By Betty Yu

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — All was busy and all was bright this Christmas at Ghirardelli Square.

Palette Tea House was bustling with activity. The San Francisco dim sum and seafood restaurant was so busy serving diners indoors and outdoors, there was a 45-minute wait for a table during peak hours.

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Diners came from near and far for popular dishes like the roasted duck and the XO Wagyu beef fried rice.

“We’re all very excited we are blessed with all the customers and business that we have today,” said general manager Dennis Leung. “It’s Christmas and a lot of staff want to be off, but at the same time, a lot of us depending on the business to make a living as well. So if we can capture more business, more customers, it’s great for everybody. The whole team – we’re very grateful for it.”

Leung said last Christmas they were only open for to-go orders.

Sales this month topped those in December of 2019. He said this holiday season they have fewer staff members and remain open seven days a week.

“Our travel plans have been changing, because of all the restrictions on omicron so we ended up being here in San Francisco,” said Shreya Ramchandani of San Francisco. “I grew up in Taiwan, so Chinese food is an all-time favorite and we made last minute plans to dine together with other families over Christmas.”

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This is the first time the Rhodes family from North Carolina is visiting San Francisco.

“We pretty much just looked at whatever was open, and it was this or a Jewish deli for dinner,” said Emmaline Rhodes.

Due to the omicron variant rapidly spreading across the country, Palette Tea House also implemented a COVID-19 booster requirement for diners. KPIX 5 also spotted plenty of people enjoying the holiday lights at the square.

“We have done everything that we’ve wanted to do,” Howard Rhodes said. “The vaccination requirement was no problem for us, and it was easy enough at all the restaurants just to show our card.”

With the ups and downs of the pandemic, restaurants like Palette Tea House say they are just thankful they can serve customers during the holidays with a healthy staff.

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“My son always asks ‘how come daddy you need to work on Christmas?’ so I’m like, ‘Daddy’s like Santa Claus, we need to make people happy,” said Leung.