Friday, April 16, 2021

Onsite Dining Restrictions Ignored by a Few Coronado Restaurants

Edited January 25, 2021

The City of Coronado has been receiving complaints that a few Coronado restaurants are not complying with San Diego County’s restrictions on onsite dining/seating. Just last week, the City of Coronado released this statement via their weekly update:

Outdoor Dining Restrictions: The City is receiving complaints about restaurants continuing to serve diners. Onsite dining, indoor or outdoor, is prohibited according to state and local health guidelines as the region remains under a Regional Stay Home Order. This also includes eating and drinking in public areas with tables and patios, and dining areas in parks. It applies to all restaurants, markets, bars and wineries. Complaints are being forwarded to San Diego County health officials and state agencies. Restaurants that operate outside of the existing health orders can incur violations and may lose their liquor licenses. The complaints involve people being served outdoors and people taking food to outdoor patios and eating. The County recently issued a letter clarifying its position on the matter, that those who provide dining are in violation of the health order. The City asks that the dining public obey the health order. Currently, only takeout, pickup or delivery services are allowed.

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The below photos were taken last weekend.  The images show onsite dining taking place at some Coronado restaurants:

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The restaurants shown in the above photos were contacted for this article, but they were either not able to be reached or did not want to provide a comment.

City of Coronado logoThe Coronado Times reached out to the City of Coronado and received the below comments from Janine Zúñiga, Sr. Management Analyst:

What is the City’s comment on this happening in Coronado?
Staff has received complaints from the community and has forwarded them to public health officials. The City wants Coronado businesses as well as diners to follow all state and federal public health orders.

How has the City been educating businesses on County mandates regarding this issue?
The City has relayed information via the City Manager’s Weekly Update and the City’s COVID-19 Newsletter on updates to the public health orders. Last week, the Weekly Update included information on the recent complaints the City has received and how they were handled.

Is the City (City Staff, Police, MainStreet) actively following up on complaints about local establishments? What do you do once you receive a complaint?
The City forwards all complaints to the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency. Last week, the City mailed a letter to all Coronado restaurants from County health officials that clarified the County’s position on the matter, that those who provide dining are in violation of the health order. Attached is a copy of the letter. The City is considering revoking encroachment permits granted to restaurants for the use of public space for outdoor dining for those violating the health order. It also may rescind the informal encroachment into public space provided by the City for outdoor dining for those restaurants who do not comply once outdoor dining is allowed per the health order. Restaurants may receive cease and desist orders, incur violations and lose their liquor licenses if they continue to violate the public health order, per County officials.

How should concerned Coronado residents contact the City or County?
Residents should contact the County directly to report businesses or organizations that are open and have been ordered to close, or otherwise not following the health order, at (858) 694-2900 or email SafeReopeningComplianceTeam@sdcounty.ca.gov. Reports can be anonymous. Residents may also contact the City Manager’s Office at cm@coronado.ca.us.

Is the City concerned that local restaurants are blatantly not following the County mandates/guidelines?
The City urges all businesses and diners to follow public health orders for the safety and security of the community to help limit the spread of the virus.

David Spatafore, Owner of Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurant group.

The Coronado Times interviewed David Spatafore (owner of Blue Bridge Hospitality restaurant group) to discuss his take on San Diego County’s orders, how his restaurant group is being compliant, as well as his thoughts on how other businesses were not complying.

Why is BBH complying with the county health orders?
We are complying for a couple reasons:

  1. Mostly related to the “what else could go wrong in this poop storm of a year?”…  I feel like if I defy, something bad is sure to happen to us out of some perverted 2020 karma!
  2. I am afraid that the state could do something like suspend our liquor license for non-compliance.
  3. I am afraid the state or county could make us ineligible for grants or programs intended to help us during this time.  
  4. I am afraid that if a low life attorney gets ahold of a staff member to create a case that we are “Endangering our Staff” by having them work against the orders. What would that law suit look like? Just what we need right now!

What are your thoughts on other Coronado restaurants not complying?
I think it is a mistake. I feel this is already a political hot potato for state, county etc. If they see non-compliance they will just make it drag on longer. It is like poking a pissed off bear whether you agree with it or not. I just want this to be done and have the state, county and city focus on vaccine distributions so we can get back to business. I do think it really sucks that national chain type places are doing this with the thought that the potential fines or risks don’t matter to them. For local businesses I UNDERSTAND – it is do or die right now and we all need to do whatever we can to survive. 

How is not having onsite dining while other establishments are offering seating impacting your business?
It certainly makes it harder for those of us to compete who are not offering seating. We get multiple calls daily for reservations or asking if we are seating. We have told them no seating at this time – take out only. One MORON yelled at our staff on the phone to “get with the program” and hung up on our staff. This sucks!

Anything else you want to add?
First let me say that I have been the one directing and managing the cases we’ve had since March in our company. I do the fact collecting, reporting to county and interview with County epidemiologist. People may not agree with my assessment but I feel like I am closer to what is going with the numbers than they are.

It is a fact that NONE of the cases we (BBH) have had were from working in the restaurant. The infected got the virus from a roommate, family member or boy/girlfriend etc. In all cases, we followed protocols and there was no spread – 100% safely contained. The science they are talking about is not related to restaurants, but it is related to groups of people gathering. Period. You have those groups in stores, activities, schools, non-essential and essential businesses. I believe they are taking it out on the restaurants and salons to show the public they are “taking action” – while killing our businesses. We have taken many measures to ensure safe dining including installing barriers between tables on patios, etc. I am confident in the safety of operating with precautions in place during this time. Masks, sanitizing, barriers, 6’ apart, etc… keep my kids who work with us, my family who works with us, our staff and our customers safe!


The below image is taken from page 10 of the County of San Diego COVID-19 Watch report.


January 25, 2021, Editor’s Note: The Coronado City Council learned during their January 19, 2021 meeting that in mid-January the County Health Department had deemed at least one restaurant that was allowing customers to sit at restaurant tables outside was “in compliance.” Read the full council meeting recap here.

The state announced outdoor dining open again with restrictions on January 25, 2021.

Keep it civil. Comments may be removed or closed if they violate Terms of Service.

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