SAN JOSE (KPIX) – A long-time tenant at a popular South Bay outdoor mall is closing its doors for good because of the uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, the owners confirmed Wednesday.

Since 2005, Sino has been serving modern Chinese and Dim Sun on Santana Row. Customers looking for online reservations during will be greeted now with a farewell note.

“I mean that was probably the hardest decision of our lives,” said Sino operations manager Julian Yeo. “In our industry, a 15-year run is a pretty long run, that means you were doing pretty well.”

Yeo said even in the beginning of the pandemic they were questioning how they would continue to operate as the county made social distancing mandatory. Even as the county has allowed outdoor dining, he says having tables six feet apart, only a fraction of customers the modern Chinese restaurant can hold could be served.

Financially, it didn’t make sense. The restaurant’s closure was announced on social media.

“It’s been there for a long time, oh my God, it’s sad, it’s really sad,” said San Jose resident Jean Qian.

Jot Condie, the president and CEO of the California and Restaurant Association, said this is just the beginning of restaurants shutting down for good.

Condie said many restaurants aren’t just instantly reopening doors as they find themselves confronted with a new set of challenges, including how many employees should be brought back to work as they wait to see how many customers will actually be comfortable eating out again.

“They’re coming back in a different operating environment with a different expectation from customers,” said Condie. “Restaurants are all doubling down what’s already in the restaurant DNA, which is food safety, sanitary conditions.”

“We have staff that is just now inbound, which means they can only bring things to the table, we have staff only outbound, which means they can clear things from the table,” said Jill Egi of LB Steak on Santana Row.

Many restaurants, including LB Steak, are welcoming back customers eager to eat out again. Santana Row is reportedly planning on shutting down its main drag to allow for more tables and chairs. It’s already cordoning off some parking spaces and common areas for restaurants to use for their guests.

“Some places are boarded up, and some places you can just go in,” said Santana Row shopper Judth Zandwijken.

Despite in-store shopping now allowed in Santa Clara county, many shops were closed with no reopening dates plastered on their storefronts.

The popular South Bay outdoor mall is slowly breathing life again, unfortunately, without one of its long-time tenants and the question of whether more will follow looms ahead.

“It’s very sad, because I’m not the only guy in this boat,” Yeo said.

Although Sino is now closed, Yeo said they will continue to operate Straights, which is also located at Santana Row.

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