Despite Valentine's Day boost, Valley restaurants still face long road to recovery

Restaurant owners are concerned they won't see crowds this size for several more weeks, until the next big holiday.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Heaters kept couples warm, as string lights created a romantic atmosphere at downtown Fresno's Quail State restaurant.

Customers couldn't help but smile as they took in the Valentine's Day experience. Owners Josh and Hayley Islas-Wolf also felt the love.

"We have just been overwhelmed by the community's support, and how booked we have been since the day we opened," Hayley said. "We are just finishing our second week."

Josh said they're booked out for the next few weeks. Valentine's Day was no exception.

"We have been booked out for Valentine's Day for a couple of weeks now," he said.

Management recommends customers book in advance. Josh says they take walk-ins, but priority goes to reservations.

In northeast Fresno, Vino Grille and Spirits also saw a boost in business. To keep up with reservations, some staff had to work split shifts.

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"We have a lot of people wanting to get in," said owner Chuck Van Fleet. "We have had bookings for two weeks now. It is finally nice to see some kind of normalcy."

But Van Fleet said it's not enough to make up for the losses seen during the pandemic. He said to make a significant profit, they need to move back to indoor dining.

"It still doesn't finish paying the bills. We need to get to 50% inside," he said.

Van Fleet is also concerned restaurants won't see crowds this size for several more weeks, until the next big holiday.

"If you are a bar, you are looking at St. Patrick's Day," he said. "After that, you are looking at Easter and Mother's Day before we can actually fill the place."

For indoor dining to reopen, Fresno County would need to move into the red tier of California's reopening tier system. At this level, restaurants would be allowed to return to indoor dining at 25% capacity.

To accomplish this, new cases per every 100,000 people would need to drop below seven a day and a positivity rate below 8%. This must be achieved for two consecutive weeks.
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