Dine-out, Help-out program hopes to boost business as city enters new phase of recovery

DEL MAR (KUSI) – A new program is being proposed by County Supervisor Jim Desmond to hopefully help local restaurants bounce back as San Diego enters a new phase of COVID-19 recovery.

“The help-out, dine-out program allows, on certain days of the week — Monday Tuesday Wednesday — the diners to get up to 50% or $10 per-person off of their meal,” Desmond said. “Really, we are just trying to stimulate the economy, stimulate businesses, get restaurants back, and get people working and get people dining out again.”

It’s a new out-of-the-box plan to incentivize customers to go back to their favorite restaurants. A similar program in the United Kingdom saw a 200% increase in business as a result. Owners say it’s different from previous federally funded plans because it gives the restaurants a way to make their own money by getting more people back through their doors.

“I think this one, in my opinion has strength because it’s not only helping restaurants, it’s going to help out people getting jobs and getting back to work,” Desmond said. 

On Monday, Desmond announced the plan at the Broken Yolk Cafe in Del Mar. He was alongside an overwhelming amount of support from restaurant industry leaders who all said this could serve as a lifeline to so many restaurants.  

“We’re doing better than a lot of people, there’s a lot of people worse off than us and this program could keep them alive,” said Janis Deady, owner of Oggi’s Del Mar. “Some restaurants won’t recover from what’s happened in the last year and it breaks my heart. We’ll probably make it but there’s some businesses that probably aren’t going to make it.”

Foot traffic from visitors into restaurants dropped as much as 77% in 2020. Desmond is proposing that a portion of the $300 million dollars allocated to San Diego County from the American Rescue Plan be used to fund the discounts.

“We’ve asked up to $50 million dollars to be set aside. What it would do is give each patron a $10 coupon or $10 discount, essentially to use towards their meals,” Desmond said. “A family of five visiting one of the participating restaurants could potentially save up to $50 by dining out.” 

It will also allow employees to make better tips on days that they usually would not make as much compared to weekend wages. 

“If this program incentivized them to come one more time during the week to help us out, that would be wonderful,” said Michael Mitsoglou, VP of Franchise Operations at Broken Yolk Cafe. “When you have 10 dollars in your pocket, you’re going to be more generous to my servers. There’s a multiplying effect.”

Supervisor Desmond will present the plan at the June 5 board meeting. It would not be implemented until after the state’s June 15 reopening deadline that lifts restrictions across California. As for how restaurants can sign up to participate or how exactly the coupon voucher program would be implemented, Desmond said that will be decided pending approval from the board.

Categories: Coronavirus, KUSI, Local San Diego News, Politics