By Wilson Walker

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Across San Francisco, June 15 was a day to be grateful for what made it through the pandemic. For many bars and restaurants, surviving was never guaranteed. Now comes the gratitude, and the thanks.

“It’s kind of unbelievable that the day is finally here,” said Megan Cornelius, co-owner of Zazie restaurant in Cole Valley. “I have a feeling a lot of people feel that way. Anybody that’s been in this industry, for sure.”

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Having crossed a sea of uncertainty, the Zazie staff opened at 100% capacity today. And they took off their masks.

“We did,” Cornelius declares. “All our staff is vaccinated, so to us we’re protected. I mean, I’ve made copies of everybody’s vaccination card, so we have those on file for anyone that’s worried about it.”

Across town, one bar was ready to reboot for the first time since the doors closed.

“We’ve been closed since March 15, 2020, nonstop,” says Ali Razavi, owner of The 500 Club. “We haven’t been open a single day.”

The 500 Club reopens this evening for the first time in 457 days. Razavi says the Mission institution will endure.

“It’s been a rough, rough ride,” Razavi says. “But we managed to pull it through. A lot of personal loans. A lot of help from the neighborhood. But most of my staff is coming back. It’s exciting, man. Just being able to be in here. It’s a temple here for us.”

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“Today is a tremendous day,” says Maurice Darwish, owner of Cove On Castro. “We’ve all been waiting for this for well over a year.”

Darwish says this day would not have come without some help.

“The building of the parklet,” he says. “And without the help from the PPP loans, we never would not have survived.”

“Oh, that’s the only thing that saved us,” agrees Cornelius. “Had we not gotten the assistance of PPP and had a Parklet, there’s no way anybody would survive.”

And for every spot that did survive, there was something else that made it happen; The love and support from customers who also refused to give up on their friends and neighbors.

“It’s a great day for the Zam Zam,” says bar owner Bob Clarke. “We weathered the storm with a lot of help from a lot of people. I appreciate all of that.”

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“Exactly,” says Darwish. “Without this base of support that we had from our very long time customers it would have been very different. I thank them for staying with us.”