Restaurants in the Bay Area Look to Rebound from Forced Shutdowns as Indoor Dining Resumes


Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Jaedan Tatum, Staff

The restaurant industry, perhaps more than any other, has suffered during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which caused drastic changes to staff and forced waves of closures affecting the livelihoods of business owners and employees alike. 

Hundreds of restaurants here in the Bay Area have been forced to shut down permanently or been put in a position of waiting with a hope to return to work in the future. Lani Conway, writing for The Infatuation, provided an extensive list of many of the area’s restaurants that have decided to close.

Most of the closures have occurred in Oakland and San Francisco. On Tuesday, Conway’s colleague, Julia Chen, examined the latest information about color-coded risk tiers for each Bay Area county as a way of determining whether restaurants would be open for outdoor seating or dine-in.

According to the article, “On March 12th, Contra Costa County moved to the red tier, meaning indoor dining can reopen at 25% capacity.”

Additional health orders affecting Bay Area residents can be found on the San Francisco Department of Public Health webpage. The California state government website also provides daily updates on the current tier assignments for each California county.

One Bay Area restaurant, Zio Fraedos, which has locations in Vallejo and Pleasant Hill, has gone through major changes at its Vallejo location. The business closed the week before Thanksgiving and only reopened operations on Tuesday, March 23.

In the meantime, Zio Fraedos hired a new chef and created a new-look menu offering far fewer items than before the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the limited capacity the restaurant now allows via the tier assignment. Tony LoForte, one of the owners said, “It’s like opening a new restaurant.”

 “There will be growing pains and it will be rough at the start,” added LoForte, who expressed confidence that the restaurant would be able to bounce back. 

As coronavirus case rates continue to fall and Bay Area counties receive less restrictive tier assignments, restaurant businesses hope to get back to normal. Kellie Hwang reported this week in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Before the winter surge, the Bay Area was celebrating low Covid-19 transmission rates that allowed for more relaxed restrictions on what people could do. Now, case rates have plummeted again, and San Francisco has reported its lowest case rate since very early in the pandemic. That was before a summer spike sent the numbers skyrocketing ahead of a drop to lows in early October.” 

Many fear that another surge remains a definite possibility if restrictions are lifted again too soon. Another shutdown they say would be devastating to restaurant owners who are just now starting to get back on their feet.

On the other hand, the longer the restrictions remain in place, the more restaurants may continue to be forced to close their doors. LoForte lastly stated, “The first week of reopening could make or break us because of the changes we’ve made,” but hopes everything goes smoothly.