Dine-in Reopens

Do you fret about the aesthetics while eating at Sab e Lee? almost anywhere on Convoy? Not sure I understand the complaint unless you were going to a Michelin-star restaurant and got seated next to the horse buggy.

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Yes I “fret” about the aesthetics of every restaurant that I frequent. If I don’t like that about it, I won’t return.

Aesthetics strongly affect my dining experience. It’s the quality of “looking the way it should”; looking “genuine”; and in that context, appealing. I take into account the type of restaurant and area. For example, I like the rough-hewn ambience at the tiny but special Mien Trung, Thai Papaya, and Pho Hoa LV, for instance. In between there was Troy’s CM. Very dated but very real. Those are “for real” places, which is part of their attraction (to me}. Their genuine (as opposed to, say, franchise mass produced) atmosphere is part of the pleasure of eating at places like that.

And Convoy? Well, Convoy St. itself is pretty gross and disgusting, visually, you’ll have to admit (I think). In terms of the streetside appeal of the district overall, the aesthetics suck. Luckily, the remarkable concentration in a single geographical area of a huge number of all kinds of Asian restaurants makes up for it. And most of the restaurants I’ve been to there (I’m no Convoy Conquest) do have pleasing aesthetics inside.

On the opposite extreme, I pay a lot of attention to the aesthetics of a fine restaurant. Along with the food quality and service, the architecture and furnishings are a draw (or a drag). I’m willing to pay the price for high-end style and class at such places, knowing full well that some of the cost reflected in their menu prices goes towards that well-tended ambience. And that’s fine with me.

Direct answers to your questions: (1) I like the way Sab-E-Lee used to look; and (2) I haven’t eaten anywhere on Convoy since re-openings started.

Last Saturday was the first day of street dining. I suspect as this goes on the restaruants that choose to participate will adapt what they do. From a photos I saw, it looked like Civico 1845 put out astroturf, some potted plants and a white picket fence. It takes labor to set all that up and some restaurants may not have had the available manpower to do a complete set-up and tear down on Saturday. Others may be taking a wait and see attitude before investing in decor and the labor to stage it. I suspect that many restaurant owners and operators are more concerned with reviving their business and income than they are with glamming up the gutter.


As a patron of many, I truly feel for the restaurant owners, DD. I hope for them to regain the “old” normal as a goal, not the so-called “new normal” b.s., which I reject. We can only survive in our private bunkers for so long.

So I get it that they’re willing to prostrate themselves by putting 4-top tables on an adjacent asphalt street, next to oil drippings: They’re desperate. It’s a excruciatingly upsetting and unsettling state of affairs.

I agree Doc, trying to operate any kind of a food operation in these times has got to be a challenge. Even before the pandemic hit I thought the industry was headed for a shake out.I think we’ll see a lot more places deciding to throw in the towel and close permenently before things stablize. :frowning_face:

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I just don’t get how a “foodie” for lack of a better term here, can go on and on about wanting to support locals restaurants and then after reopening say the aesthetics are poor so you aren’t gonna go. WTF is that.


That was true before the covid and it’s still true now. I don’t enjoy dining in an unappealing restaurant. The only new thing that I’m crossing off my list is being seated at a table in a makeshift area on the street. Indoors or in a permanent area on the sidewalk is fine. Many of the re-opened restaurants that I’ve peeked into for a look have been re-arranged nicely and look pretty good. But some look poor and uninviting.

You’ve made your point, you don’t like eating in a dirty street. Please limit any further comments on the matter to specific restaurants.

Will do. Thanks for the closure, Robert. I thought I’d made that point when I posted the UT photo, but I guess not…

Our first venture into “dine-in” was a pleasant one, at Humphrey’s on Shelter Island on Thursday. I use quotes because they had converted the enclosed area in front of the outdoor stage into a patio, and that’s where we were seated. We weren’t inside. The patio was nicely done (with fake grass, probably for durability from the concert days) and of course had that wonderful view of the marina. We just had drinks, which were served in plastic cups, but that was OK. It just felt so normal, and it was quiet and relaxing.

Another place that isn’t on Candice’s list (yet) opened over the weekend: I was very happy because it’s my favorite pho house: Pho Hoa on Linda Vista. I thought it had been done in and was gone for good like so many others. But no!

Not much different than before, except for the absence of condiments on the tables.

I had my baseline, a bowl of pho tai, and the broth was as delicious as ever. The only difference was that the beef slices were already cooked when the bowl arrived at my table, not raw. (Maybe Re-Opening Rule No. 17355 is “no raw meat”. IDK.) Regardless, I was a very happy camper. The service was as friendly and as virtually instantaneous as always. What a treat to go there again. This was my first real dine-in restaurant meal in three months.

I wish they’d had something on the tables, though, like fake flowers in pots. I think it would look better that way. (Except that that might violate Re-Opening Rule Number 02668.) I’m guessing a lot of other places are thinking about improving the not-yet-seated look of the tables, too – while staying within the guidelines and their already-stressed budget.

I hear that most restaurants on Convoy have also now re-opened, and I’m ready to jump in!

Added 6/25: Speaking of Candice Woo, there was a very good podcast with her and Monika Garske today, talking about SD Dine-In Reopening in general, on NBC7. Worth a listen.

Added 6/29. DD, I think that Candice Woo has decided not to continue to update this list. Do you know why, or otherwise? You always seem do have your well-trained ear to the ground on such things.

And we’re closed again. as of midnight tonight (July 6th) all SD restaruants are closed to indoor dining for 3 weeks. Outdoor dining with appropriate social distancing and masks is still permitted as is takeout and delivery.

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Rudeness in San Diego or why we can’t have bars and restaurants open for dine-in and why I won’t be dining-in any time soon, even if they reopen in August


Dealing with this level of rudeness in a restaurant is in the same category as dealing with an unruly, obnoxious patron that really needs to leave – now.

Greeters, servers, table attendants, and managers/owners aren’t security guards or bouncers. They’re hospitality hosts.

I might not like or even agree with the mandates, but dammit, I’ll follow them. It seems to be all we have.

I’m anxious to feel comfortable about dine-in. But I hear you, DD.

It was really a pleasure to see so many of the restaurants in LJ open (outdoors, of course) and busy today, mid-afternoon. Most of those that have expanded onto the street have added essentials for esthetics, such as all-weather low-pile carpeting on the street. One place had actually built a redwood deck out onto the street, and it looked really nice. Most had only expanded to extend to the curb, but all were very appealing.

The general ambience was almost European. I think that restauranteurs in this crisis are figuring out how to make dining under the current conditions appealing.

The village was bustling, but sorry to say, only maybe 50% wearing masks (excluding those seated and dining in restaurant patios, who were, of course, maskless while eating).

Now I want to go back to LI and check out what has changed there.

They’re trying something similar in North Park, but the ambience is questionable.

Garnet looked pretty cool when we were in PB yesterday. Haven’t been to North park in maybe six weeks.

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Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest was really hopping on Sunday for a few blocks south of University. Further south there were some scattered colorful outdoor areas here and there, particularly at Laurel. The general ambience was European, or maybe South American or Mexican. Most people on the sidewalk were wearing masks. People seated inside restaurants and those on the outdoor patios (most of which are now wood decks over the street, or expanded sidewalk areas) were unmasked and packed shoulder-to-shoulder at the (properly spaced ) tables. It was a very different scene than when we last visited Hillcrest, perhaps in June or July. The individually unique outdoor decks, along with servers crossing the sidewalks to get to them, add a lot of color and interest.

Really, it was so much like the norm in so many other countries. In the past, in SD, outdoor dining has been way, way too constrained, IMO. I’m glad the city was able to lighten up on the permit process. Hopefully that’ll be longer than “for now”.