OAKLAND, Calif. - The delta variant is serving up another course of problems for some Bay Area restaurants as they have had to temporarily shut down after staff members contracted the virus.
Even many restaurants that can remain open have seen a precipitous drop in reservations, according to industry officials.
It is an industry that has struggled through the dark times of COVID, and then saw the light as things reopened.
However, the delta variant is threatening business again.
Oakland’s Jack London Square was an example of the COVID dining experience at its best, allowing customers to enjoy their meals in temperate weather on Sunday afternoon with increased safety precautions.
But the delta variant has shown how fragile all this can be when a restaurant staffer contracts COVID.
"The problem with that is it means you have to quarantine your staff, which then leads to some closures," said Laurie Thomas, restaurateur and head of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
Oakland’s Ramen Shop recently posted on its Instagram page that it has shut down for a few days of cleaning and testing after a staff member contracted COVID.
Nari in San Francisco had a similar experience, posting they have had three breakthrough cases with staff, and will not reopen until Aug. 11.
These are only two examples of several similar cases.
The delta variant could potentially be responsible for another restaurant issue.
"(There has been) a significant drop in reservations and increase of no shows in the past week and a half," said Thomas.
Belcampo at Jack London Square said it experienced the same, and though other causes were possible, the manager speculated on what is probable.
"Probably an increase in cases in the delta strain," said Kevin Godfrey, manager of Belcampo.
There has also been a decline in indoor dining as more clients request to sit in the open air.
Gina Andrade, a teacher, said she did this purposefully, not just for enjoyment, but because she was concerned about indoor dining.
"I don’t dine out often, so this is pretty much a treat for me to go and dine out and I like this area specifically because we are so spaced out from other patrons," said Andrade.
While these restaurants can enjoy business for now, it is a circumstance that remains fragile as delta COVID cases grow, threatening an industry that has already fought several battles in the ongoing war against COVID.
"I’m hoping it goes away, that people do the right thing," said Godfrey.
There are also some restaurants in downtown San Francisco planning to reopen after Labor Day.
They have been waiting for office workers to return to work.
But with the spread of delta variant infections, some offices are delaying plans to bring people back, and that is creating a major problem for those restaurants.
This story is reported from Oakland, Calif.