By Christopher Gomez
The Little Italy Association (LIA) has announced Little Italy’s reopening campaign called “Ciao Bella!,” which will include in-house restaurant dining, in-store shopping, Al Fresco street-side dining, special merchandise to support local businesses and a social media “Air Kiss Challenge” giveaway. As restaurants and retailers resume business with the proper safety guidelines in place, this campaign will securely welcome back our residents and the wider community to the neighborhood they know and love.
We are thrilled to see life come back to our charming European-style public piazzas, Italian-inspired fountains, award-winning restaurants, locally run businesses and shops, wineries and art galleries. “Ciao Bella!,” which is Italian for “hello beautiful,” is an expression evoking a sigh of relief and happiness, showing that “Our Little Italy, Your Famiglia” will always remain united and resilient as a neighborhood, a home, a business hub and, most importantly, a famiglia, no matter the times. As a first step in the campaign, restaurants will offer in-house dining and retailers will open doors for in-store shopping. For the up-to-date list of open businesses, visit CiaoBellaSD.com.
As part of the campaign and to pay homage to our roots, Little Italy will be offering Al Fresco dining initially only on Saturdays on India Street from W. Ash to W. Grape and W. Beech, W. Cedar, W. Date and W. Fir Street between Kettner and Columbia Street, tentatively starting on Saturday, June 13 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The streets will be closed to all vehicles so that the sidewalks and part of India Street will transform into expanded open-air dining to help restaurants mitigate the loss of indoor seating while also creating a safe 30-foot physical distancing promenade where guests can wait for their reservations. Physical distancing protocols must be followed and interested diners will be required to make reservations at their restaurant of choice in advance during the first few weeks of Al Fresco.
In tandem, Little Italy is inviting San Diegans and other supporters to participate in the “Air Kiss Challenge” starting in June as a salute to the Little Italy neighborhood. The LIA is asking people to post a picture of themselves giving an air kiss on social media using the hashtags #CiaoBellaSD and #AirKiss, tagging two Little Italy businesses and nominating three others to join the challenge as well. Individuals who enter have the chance to win prizes on a weekly basis, including local business and restaurant gift cards and special promotions.
To support the community further, Ciao Bella! T-shirts with the campaign tagline, “They are. We are. I AM LITTLE ITALY.,” are available for purchase with all proceeds supporting the Little Italy business crisis fund and the business where the shirt was purchased.
We look forward to seeing you in Little Italy soon. Ciao Bella!
— To learn more about our latest reopening plans, visit CiaoBellaSD.com. For Little Italy COVID-19 resources and updates, visit LittleItalySDUpdates.com or follow us on Instagram @LittleItalySD, Twitter @LittleItalySD and Facebook @LittleItalySD. Chris Gomez is the district manager of Little Italy.