Hapy Bistro in Pismo Beach is a tasty medley of Mediterranean-style cuisine with a touch of Greek flare. Taking a moment to dine in the bistro felt like visiting family—while enjoying a meal with tender cuts of filet mignon steak bites, button mushrooms sautéed with onions, and a side of pita bread. Or having a spoonful of avgolemono soup: Greek lemon soup with a mix of chicken, arborio rice, fresh lemon juice, and vegetables.
Similar to many food industry experiences throughout the Central Coast, Hapy Bistro temporarily closed its dine-in services to the public but remained open for takeout and curbside pickup. The establishment was simply following the shelter-at-home guidelines, Hapy Bistro manager Hilary Key said.
She said the owners and management had to make the tough decision of letting go of some of their staff members, and at first customers were hesitant to grab a bite to eat.
"It was a little bit quiet. People weren't really sure how to just go out and function with the shelter-in-place order," Key said.
Soon after, she said, customers would come in and buy a few hundred dollars' worth of food on certain days to feed their families.
"They were very generous with their compensation for the staff that was working, which was very moving, just to see all of that support come out for our little restaurant," she said.
Amid the changes, customers continued to support the local Mediterranean restaurant. Almost two months later, restaurants got the green light to reopen for dine-in services with restrictions on capacity and separating tables at a 6-foot distance.
"It was a general consensus amongst all of the management team that we wanted to make sure that our staff and our guests' safety was the main concern," Key said. "And not to mention dining is an experience, and it's something that so many of us have taken for granted right now."
As eateries began reopening to the public, Key said Hapy Bistro just wasn't quite ready to provide that dine-in experience.
"We also wanted to make sure that when we opened we could allow people to have the same type of experience they were having without having to be masked at all times. It just takes away from the freedom of being out and enjoying yourself," she said.
Hapy Bistro announced its decision to hold off on reopening via Facebook, and it was met with gratitude and positive anticipation.
Facebook user Wes Saman commented, "Thank you for the post! Can't wait until we can have a great dining experience again."
During the public health crisis, Hapy Bistro took the time to revamp its patio area, which will be where customers would eventually dine-in once again. It allows customers to eat outside and at a safe distance from others.
On June 10—10 days after being interviewed for this story—Hapy Bistro finished the reconstruction of its patio and accepted its first reservations and walk-in customers. Δ