Dining In L.A. and Orange County Restaurants Allowed to Re-Open Now - Lessons Learned?

Hi All,

As you might have heard by now, Orange County (and now L.A. County) has received the approval to open all restaurants for Dine-In Service effective immediately.


I was a bit surprised / shocked that it happened so fast.

We called around to a few OC restaurants to ask them when they’d allow dine-in customers, and what was interesting was that all of the ones we called said they needed more time, and would only re-open when they figured out how to safely serve customers, maintaining social distancing and other health and safety guidelines.

Some examples:

  • Ngu Binh said they might re-open by next weekend, but needed time to figure out how to safely seat and serve customers (with their usual massive long lines).

For Ngu Binh (and all restaurants) where there were communal setups for Chopsticks, Napkins, Fish Sauce, Hot Sauce, other condiments (Ketchup, Mustard, Salt & Pepper, etc.), do you imagine this all going away? I guess packets of Fish Sauce and Sriracha? :sweat_smile:

  • Kitakata Ramen Bannai (OG Branch) said they don’t know. They need more time to figure out how to safely serve customers. (They have a tiny Ramen setup, close tables and a Ramen counter.)

  • Sushi Ii said it might be a few weeks or longer, as they needed to see how to serve customers with their Omakase format. Would it even be possible?

  • As noted in the Sushi Ii post, they said Orange County officials told them the Sushi Bar has to remain closed. :cry: And that customers will need to be seated at tables far away from the chef.

I wonder if that’s a precursor for all Sushi Bars in L.A. and beyond? No more Omakase at the Sushi Bar in front of a chef (it’s too close). That would be a tragedy, but it’s also for people’s safety. :frowning: (@J_L @PorkyBelly @beefnoguy @Sgee @A5KOBE @TheCookie @attran99 and others.)

I’d imagine the same for any “Chef’s Table” where it was seated in the kitchen area of a fine dining restaurant.

Will our FTC’ers go out and try dining in at various L.A. & OC restaurants? (@OCSteve @js76wisco @JeetKuneBao @attran99 and others.)

Is it too soon? What do our frontliners / heroes risking their lives every day to keep folks safe think (@J_L @JeetKuneBao and so many others).


Yeah I honestly cannot imagine eating dine-in at a restaurant yet.


I’m out. I’m going to see what the results will be in 3 weeks. I’m happy to do takeout in the meantime. I miss sitting at the bar and not having to do dishes, but I like making sure that I’m not the one responsible for transmitting to my parents more.


I’ve gone almost three months without dining out. I can wait some more until it’s safe.


maybe it’s going to come to those plastic partitions you see in front of cashiers now in front of your Itamae. I have this sad image of getting sushi put in a little metal tray like at a gas station with pass through window but for nigiri. not sure whether to laugh or to cry


Hatsunezushi in Kamata (outside metropolitan Tokyo), as an example of the new norm over there to keep jetsetters at ease. $490 per person baseline omakase and nigiri crafted with latex gloves.

If a restaurant successfully pivoted to takeout and is comfortable with getting by from the proceeds to stay afloat and keep safe (ideal if they were able to have their rents lowered), it would make zero sense to reopen the dining room with a very jittery let alone cautious general public. I see this as impossible for a smaller counter seating only restaurant, only to have partitions and keep a maximum distance, meaning not able to fill the seats.

So there’s no way a small counter seating restaurant can make the same amount of money like they did before, let alone offer the same experience as before, while operating with a skeleton crew (or worst case one man show) since many places let their employees go during SIP, and would have to either rehire them back even if they are able. Depending on the configurations, rules/regulations and limitations, the business owners could be putting themselves in harm’s way even further.

(In some extreme cases, some employees who were let go or furloughed left their country seeing there were no opportunities, and never returned. Hire new people and retrain? Are the new people symptom free and not asymptomatic?)

Nobody wants to catch anything even if the superspreaders and infected are asymptomatic, whether they have the antibodies or not. With new strains mutating all over the place, and no workable vaccine to keep up, I’m sticking with best practice and takeout for a while, and I think most restaurants up here in NorCal would think the same at least until the end of the year (wait and see).


Loved the rest of this post, but the current science tells us though this virus is able to mutate (just like most other viruses in existence), it hasn’t done so in an unpredictable and dangerous fashion.


Just don’t sneeze, cough, or talk loudly… ::sigh::


I liked what Carlos Salgado said over the weekend.



FWIW a bunch of people I know have already gone out to eat at restaurants and were very happy to do so, so there’s that.

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Lot of pictures on social media of people eating in restaurants in OC over the weekend. Some had some good measures in place with distance between tables, servers in masks and gloves, etc… But even with all of the precautions I’m on team let’s see how this plays out over the next month.

There are so many great places in LA/OC doing take out right now. Not worth the risk IMHO.


I’m with @attran99. We’re going to wait a bit. My wife is in the healthcare industry, and I’m on a National COVID task force for my firm. Maybe it’s all the information that we get hit with every day, but we’re not ready to venture out just yet. It’s a tough call because we can’t wait to get back to date nights.


It’s bizarre to me, given the facts we have to date, that the state or any county or city would allow a restaurant to seat customers indoors without checking the ventilation to make sure there’s a good flow of fresh air and no recirculation.

Without that, everything else is just hygiene theater.


Sharing inclosed spaces with people yapping away and munching away…I’ll be a little cautious and play it safe too


I would eat on outdoor patios and in open spaces. Something like Majordomo outside patio with 50% of the seating but not many places like that in the OC. Maybe Taco Maria but Chef Salgado doesn’t seem like he is opening soon. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any places that we regularly eat at that have big outdoor patios. Most of the Asian mom n pop places we eat are going to have a difficult time with the distancing inside of the restaurant and maintaining revenue.

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Yeah, I feel awful for them. This is an impossible situation for them.

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It’s a really terrible situation. My wife and I were going down the list of restaurants we frequent and don’t know how some of these places can be viable unless they charge more money or grow their take out/delivery. It doesn’t seem likely that either of those two happen. Hope we are wrong.


Or make customer bring their own Plastic Pod.

I hate to say it, especially as someone who will soon join the unemployment line–the mom and pop places have to raise their prices. And customers have to accept it, if they want these places to carry on.


(my predictions)

The customers will not accept higher prices. And they will not gamble their health and safety to enjoy a dine-in meal–especially families. There will be heavy attrition of mid-level restaurants that are not buoyed by strong local support. This day of reckoning has been a longtime coming.

This is a symptom of the widening gap between rich and poor and the thinning of the middle class. The normies get less nice things.

But not to worry, there will always be delicious food–it will just be more casual, more quick service. Fewer options overall. Within that there will be less restaurants, more eateries. Normies will not be able to eat out as much and enjoy people waiting on them.