coronavirus pandemic

SF Restaurants, Bars Handle Omicron Surge

NBC Universal, Inc.

Struggling restaurants and bars in San Francisco are trying to figure out how to navigate the omicron surge that has kept many patrons away.

Now, Mayor London Breed has joined the fight, signing onto a new effort to extend federal assistance programs for the struggling industry.

“We just reopened Che Fico last night and that was over a week of being closed,” said David Nayfeld, co-owner of Che Fico restaurant.

Nayfeld added that the San Francisco-based restaurant decided to close during one of the most profitable holiday weekends of the year.

Nayfeld said they chose safety over profit.

“In late December, we started to recognize that the omicron surge was really severely impacting our staff," he said.

Nayfeld said that their hope is that the closure would help slow down the surge and create a little more safety and confidence among staff.

“We’re back right now with very limited ability to do a full staffing. What we call covers the amount of people we serve in a restaurant. We’re also trying to separate seats and not crowd people as much,” Nayfeld said.

But it’s not easy for them as they spend thousands of dollars out of pocket each month to make sure their already vaccinated staff can also get tested.

It's just the latest hurdle in what's now been two years of exceptional challenges.

“We do need to try our best to continue to do business. The big thing that we need is we need the federal government to step up and refill the restaurant revitalization fund," Nayfeld added.

Now, Breed is joining other mayors in signing a letter from the independent restaurant coalition, urging congressional leaders to replenish the fund in the face of the new COVID surge.

“That is a list of 25 mayors asking congress to find additional funding. To make these people that are just as deserving as the people that got it receive the funding that they need so desperately to survive,” said Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s executive director Laurie Thomas.

Thomas told NBC Bay Area Friday that it's key and the challenges are real.

“You’re making real time decisions as you go and that’s why we’re seeing a lot of changes from restaurants,” she said. “Some feeling that they can reopen, and their workers need the money. Some feel like they don’t have enough staff and there is concern in the workforce.”

For diners looking support the restaurants, owners said while they appreciate it, they also suggest customers to call before coming to make sure they're open and staffed.

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