Local eateries, retail adjust to changing times, seek community support

Take-out from Mendocino Farms in Del Mar Highlands Town Center.

As everyone has been asked to do their part to curb the spread of COVID-19, local restaurants have pivoted to take-out and delivery and retail stores have turned to online sales with the hope of keeping things going.

Annie Glenn, a Del Mar Mesa resident who owns four local stores in Del Mar Plaza, One Paseo and the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch (two Urban Girls, Urban Beach House and Perfect Pineapple), had to close the doors of all nine of her locations citywide.

“It scared me to pieces but being an entrepreneur I instantly started thinking about how we could take these lemons and make lemonade,” Glenn said.

Glenn focused on online sales and started offering “Mystery Bags of Happiness”, which were a hit with customers. For the mystery bags, she hand-picked out the items that she hoped would share a little sunshine for those who needed it in these trying times.

“This whole situation has actually helped so many people realize how hard it is for small businesses and how important we are! Essentially small business is the backbone of society but people haven’t truly realized that till now when they see all of us closed,” said Glenn. “I feel that although right now seems very scary and unknown, what I do know is that I appreciate everything more than I ever have. People are coming together in a way that I have never seen before! With kindness and patience, we can make it through and I truly believe that we will all be better humans because of it!”

Local businesses and shopping centers are getting creative to keep people engaged—Club Pilates and If I Was a Bird Yoga have started streaming free live workouts and Del Mar Highlands Town Center is live-streaming its March 26 Hullabaloo concert on its Facebook page at 10 a.m.

The Del Mar Village Association hosted a virtual coffee shop with Del Mar singer-songwriter Michael Tiernan singing his Del Mar-inspired songs and sharing how to support local retail shops like Sandcastle Tales and Rusty’s Del Mar by shopping online.

At Flower Hill Promenade, restaurants such as Milton’s Deli, Flower Child, Chipotle Fresh Mex and Burger Lounge are open and offering take-out and delivery. At Whole Foods, guests over 60 can start shopping an hour before the store opens at 7 a.m.

At Carmel Valley’s Piazza Carmel shopping center, Nico’s Taco Shop, Villa Capri, Royal India, Spices Thai Cafe, Gami Sushi and Marketplace Grille are all open and offering take-out and delivery. Baskin Robbins will even deliver an ice cream fix to your home.

At the Pavilions grocery store, the hours of 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. are reserved for senior citizens and other at-risk members of the community such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems. Pavilions also offers grocery delivery and drive up and go service.

Sanford Sigal, president and chief executive officer of NewMark Merrill which owns Piazza Carmel, said they are committed to ensuring the shopping center remains an asset to the community.

“It’s a tough time to be a merchant. As tenants re-open, welcome them back,” Sigal wrote in a message to customers. “The strength of our neighborhoods are the strength of our retailers and service providers.”

At One Paseo, eateries such as Tocaya Organica, Cava, URBN Pizza and Parakeet Cafe continue to offer pick-up and delivery. Tender Greens is now offering grocery essentials in addition to its regular menu items and The Butchery is keeping its cases stocked with pantry, produce and butcher case items.

“We’ve received a ton of positive feedback from our customers who are relieved that they can stock up on meat and other grocery items, especially products from local and small businesses, during a time when supermarket shelves have been wiped out,” said Brian Smith and Robert Hagopian, owners of The Butchery. “We are happy to provide the community with the items they need during this time and to be a local alternative to big-box grocery stores.”

Carol and Jonathan Goldwasser, owners of Parkakeet Cafe, said their experience has been bittersweet--they miss employees, the liveliness and the noise but they are grateful from the support they are still receiving from customers.

“We are so happy to witness how our efforts to make and create healthy food is being noticed and appreciated,” said the Goldwassers. “And this is why we are committed to stay open, we feel a responsibility to keep providing healthy and delicious food and drinks now, more than ever; that is why we started this journey and that is what will keep us going for as long as we can.”

At the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch, Baked Bear transitioned to to-go ice cream sandwich cookies, Panera Bread recently launched free delivery and Wokou Ramen is open and offering a new temporary menu for pick-up or free delivery.

To-go Baked Bear ice cream sandwiches.

Luna Grill, which remains open for delivery and carryout, recently launched The Good Card to help San Diego County children who are facing food insecurity during the pandemic. For every $5 gift card purchased online, Luna Grill will donate a hot meal through the Jacobs & Cushman Food Bank, sharing the sentiment of “you keep the card, we feed the kids.”

“In many instances, the school lunch program is the primary source for a guaranteed hot meal for thousands of local children,” said Rich Pinnella, chief brand officer at Luna Grill. “In this time of anxiety, uncertainty and scarcity, our team wanted to ‘Do Good’ and make the most of our resources. Food is love and we can provide food.”

Several Del Mar Highlands Town Center restaurants remain open for takeout, pickup and delivery options, including Mendocino Farms, Domino’s Pizza, Einstein Brothers Bagels and Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza, which has take-home pizza kits available.

Del Mar Highlands Town Center said that while they have plenty of grocery and drug store resources, they urge customers to only shop for what they need. Ralph’s offers same-day pick-up, RiteAid is open 24 hours and at Jimbo’s, 8-8:45 a.m. is reserved for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

Jimbo’s recently announced 75 job openings to respond to the growing needs during the pandemic and owner Jimbo Someck has given raises to all of his employees.

“In the eye of the storm, you have remained calm, worked tremendously hard, and have been a source of comfort to many folks who shop at our stores,” Someck wrote in a letter to employees. “ I am not kidding when I say you have touched the hearts of many… I speak with great pride when I tell them how incredibly proud I am of how all of you have pulled together in these challenging times.”