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San Francisco Restaurants See Big Business Rebound Post Omicron Surge

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- After experiencing a slump in business because of the omicron surge, restaurants in San Francisco are starting to rebound. The spring-like weather, Super Bowl and Valentine's Day drew many diners this past weekend.

San Francisco restaurants are seeing a growth in diners and hope they will move into a period of stability. Flour + Water in the Mission District reopened Sunday for the first time after being closed for remodeling for four months.

The popular eatery known for its fresh pastas said the wait time for a party of two without reservations was at least an hour and a half.

"You never know especially in the last two years, we never know how these things are going to go," said Flour + Water Co-chef and Owner Thomas McNaughton. "And to me it's so great to see familiar faces, friends, family, people back in the dining room."

The kitchen was constantly buzzing with activity Sunday evening, and so was the dining room at Penny Roma on nearby 20th street.

McNaughton and Co-chef Ryan Pollnow opened the restaurant in October. They closed it for 10 days during the Omicron surge for the safety of staff and diners.

"That was right at one of the busiest nights of the year - New Year's Eve," McNaughton said. "And we said forget it - in three weeks we're going to throw 2022 New Year's Eve night again and put a ton of balloons around the restaurant. We had the silly hats, and people loved it. So many people came out and celebrated."

There was a lot to celebrate Sunday night, including Valentine's Day.

"It seemed very busy. We were some of the first people in line to get in here at Penny Roma and we had a fantastic dinner," said Jesse Landers of Pacifica.

"When we got here - they checked our IDs and our vaccination cards right at the door, so that I know that everyone in here was vaccinated," said Marli Oxenholm of Pacifica. "So that made me feel super safe, even though it was bumpin' and super packed. But it was nice. It kind of felt like getting back to old times."

McNaughton said reopening Flour + Water is almost like "old times" too. Among his diners was Daria Saraf, who dined indoors for the first time in about two years.

"It was great. We sat by the window at the communal table because we figured it was good air circulation," she said. "It was absolutely delicious."

The city's indoor mask mandate will be dropped for vaccinated individuals this Wednesday Feb. 16.

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