Long Reads

Places Lost to COVID-19

A list of places I liked that have fallen to COVID-19.

At the time of this writing, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of over 250,000 nearly 300,000 Americans. Instead of improvement, we’re seeing a rapid increase in the number of cases as the year comes to an end. This is a direct result of the US mishandling the pandemic early on. Closures and restrictions now are stopgap measures to attempt some measure of control over the virus’s incessant spread through our communities.

While the first vaccine is headed for approval, even if it is perfectly effective it will be a long time before we achieve any sort of “herd immunity.” Estimates are that 75–90% of people will have to have resistance, either through vaccination or exposure, in order to reach that goal—and exposure largely doesn’t work. We couldn’t even sustain that for measles before under-vaccination brought the disease back.

Throughout it all, the collective we (in the form of our leaders) have refused to offer sustained economic relief targeted at regular people and small businesses continue to shut down. These places are not failing because of restrictions: in a closed business the lights are off, plumbing is silent, and supplies are not being used. There is only one major remaining cost: rent. This particularly upsets me. Why on earth should any business that cannot be open due to the virus be paying rent? Perhaps because the property owner has a mortgage, one might say. Okay, fine: why are they being asked to pay a mortgage right now?

Banks. Small businesses are failing because in the middle of a global pandemic, large financial institutions need to continue to pad their dragon hoards of money and wealthy shareholders demand perpetual growth—unrealistic in the best of times, and especially short-sighted in the current circumstances.

We have tried to support local businesses as much as we can this year, and I’m sure others have as well. Unfortunately, they continue to close. Many businesses that have permanently shut their doors in my area are places where I have made numerous happy memories. I want to try to remember as many of them as possible.

Last updated December 29, 2020.

The List

10 Barrel Brewing

Closed December 2020

I had my birthday party here in 2019 and the union rented the space for one of their parties. They had a lovely upstairs outdoor space that looked out over their part of the city and great food. Their selection of sour beers (and cocktails based on them) made it one of the more accessible breweries.

Augie’s Coffee

Closed December 2020

This coffee shop had a back room full of power outlets where people could study out of the way of most customers. I spent hours going between here and Stell Coffee during medical school. Their iconic logo was based on their red building location.

Iron Fist Brewing

Closed April 2020

I have one of their glasses from a trivia event; it’s the only one I have with a design on the bottom. Always planned on making it to Barrio Logan to check them out in person, but I didn’t make it in time.

Small Bar

Closed November 2020

Located right near the University Heights sign, Small Bar sat among a number of fun locations. I visited this place several times with my co-residents during intern year. At that time, it was a bit more rough around the edges—when I returned later it was newly renovated with a great new menu design. An instant favorite of my friend Sara’s, Small Bar was on our list of places to visit as soon as the pandemic ended. Its closure is particularly saddening.

Small Bar’s nifty menu design incorporated the happy hour short list.


Closed May 2020

I love eating salad, so I always enjoyed going here. Their house chili was great too. After we moved to San Diego, we learned that the original location was right around the corner from our house. I also went here on several birthdays.

Tacos Libertad and Bo-Beau Kitchen + Cache

Closed November 2020

There are a lot of taco places I like, but one of the things that made Tacos Libertad special was the semi-hidden speakeasy within it, Cache. Tacos could be enjoyed with a group of friends at one of the long tables among the antique decor.

Tiger! Tiger!

Closed September 2020

This North Park tavern was one of the first places I visited as a brand new intern arriving in San Diego. I met my first co-intern here, Kelsey. She has turned into a fantastic colleague and a fun friend with a well-presented Instagram account.


Closed March 2020

While plainer than many of the other nearby spots, they always had some beers on tap here that weren’t found anywhere else in the area.

Waypoint Public

Closed July 2020

Clever logo and garage-style doors that opened up to make the outer rim bar seating open-air. Had brunch here with Rachel before the pandemic began in earnest.