In business since July 1995, En Fuego is still going, maybe not strong, but is open for customers after struggling through the year of the 2020-21 pandemic that has, of course, challenged many businesses.
“With restaurants, it has been a ‘roller coaster’ ride contending with confusing state and county mandates to open, to close, to serve in house, to offer only takeout, to close, to open with 25% capacity, and on and on,” reports owner John Wingate. He has managed many changes and had to cut his pre-pandemic staff of 48 staff down to 24. Happily, his chef Sergio Beltran and cooks have been available to come in as needed to work. The Del Mar Village Association’s (DMVA) “Fuel The Front Line” campaign was a pivot point for the restaurant. ”The DMVA hired Del Mar restaurants—and us—to provide the fuel,” says John who, at a crucial down time, was asked to cook meals for 50 essential workers at Scripps Green Hospital, then another 100 at Scripps in La Jolla. John: “I called Sergio and we learned how to prepare food for takeout and delivery—new to us. That was a great help. We got going. We went from being closed to providing takeout meals—and, we offered margaritas because our bars were closed.”
En Fuego follows the mandates on when to open and close depending on the rise and fall of the local COVID-19 number count. John: “We closed at Christmas after the Thanksgiving swell of COVID cases and on and off throughout the last many months.” Now open, the tables at En Fuego are spaced 6 feet apart and all protocols of cleanliness are observed, the bar spaces are closed. The restaurant is periodically checked by the County Board of Health team to make sure En Fuego is compliant.
For takeout customers: En Fuego is associated with the M’Porte Exchange Program (MEP), a service that encourages customers to opt for reusable containers for “zero waste” takeout orders in place of the single use containers used to transport takeout food. For your first reusable container, order directly from mporteco.com, (“emporter” is French for “to take with you”) or ask a participating restaurant for your takeout meal to be served in a M’porte Zero-Waste Takeout container. The one-time $25 cost of the container will added to your bill.
For your next takeout order ask for the M’Porte container and bring in your rinsed original. It will then be sanitized and reused by the restaurant. Repeat.