Local restaurants keeping spirits bright with fundraisers for laid-off workers

The Gavin that Stole Christmas pizza at Nolita Hall.
The Gavin that Stole Christmas pizza at Nolita Hall. It’s one of three being sold this month to raise money for the restaurant’s laid-off workers.
(Courtesy photo)

Eateries are selling pandemic-themed pizza, Italian pastries and burgers during the holiday season


San Diego restaurant owners were dealt a serious blow last week when a new COVID-19 health order shut down all onsite dining. To raise money for the thousands of employees laid off just before Christmas, several restaurateurs have launched fundraising specials and meal donation programs. Here are several:

Cesarina Mezzoni, the chef at Cesarina Ristorante
Cesarina Mezzoni, the chef at Cesarina Ristorante holds some take-out bags at her Point Loma restaurant.
(Courtesy of Spotlight Studios )

Cesarina Ristorante, a nearly 2-year-old Italian restaurant owned by husband-and-wife Niccolò Angius and Chef Cesarina Mezzoni and their friend Giuseppe Capasso, is selling boxes of Italian pastries for pickup during Christmas week. I Pasticcini di Cesarina, priced at $99, will include 24 specialty tartes, biscotti, cannoli and other Italian pastries. Their goal is to raise up to $20,000 by Christmas for their former workers. Orders must be placed by Dec. 20 for pickup on Dec. 23 or 24. Orders can be placed by calling (619) 226-6222. Cesarina is at 4161 Voltaire St., Point Loma. Visit

Cesarina  is selling boxes of Italian holiday pastries for charity
Cesarina restaurant in Point Loma is selling boxes of Italian holiday pastries, with all proceeds benefiting laid-off workers.
(Courtes photo)

Rise & Shine Hospital Group, which runs the Breakfast Republic chain and five other local restaurant concepts, is donating free prepared take-away meals to laid-off workers from any industry impacted by the shutdown. This is the second time this year company founder Johan Engman has offered the program, which last spring gave away nearly 6,500 meals valued at more than $52,000 over a three-month period. He relaunched the program this past week after he was forced to lay off more than 400 workers. Meals will be served between 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at the company’s Breakfast Republic location at 1570 Camino de la Reina in Mission Valley. Visit

Breakfast Republic restaurant.
The Breakfast Republic location in Mission Valley is serving free prepped meals to laid-off workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Courtesy photo)

Nolita Hall is doing a pandemic-inspired pizza pop-up event that will last into January. All proceeds will benefit its workers. Conceived by chef Moira Hill and operations manager Andrew Grantz, the event features for sale three New York-style pizzas for sale with names like The Gavin That Stole Christmas, The Inside is the Outside and Stay at Home from Cabo. There are also themed take-away cocktail specials like the Liberate California and Lara’s Lockdown, as well as two dessert options and a make-at-home pizza option. The 16-inch pizzas are $20 and available for purchase and pickup from 4 to 10 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays. A walk-up happy hour from 4-6 p.m. features cocktails at half-price with food purchase. Purchases can be made by calling (619) 255-8000 or online at Nolita Hall is at 2305 India St., Little Italy,

A scallop dish by chef Eric Bost at Jeune et Jolie restaurant
A scallop dish by chef Eric Bost at Jeune et Jolie restaurant in Carlsbad, which is now offering a $55 prix-fixe take-home meal three nights a week.
(Courtesy of Devin Castaneda)

Jeune et Jolie restaurant has launched Extraordinaire, a take-home or delivered five-course dinner program on Friday-Sunday evenings. Cost is $55 with optional wine and cocktail pairings. Chef Eric Bost is creating a new menu every two weeks. All tips and profits will be donated to the company’s employee relief fund. Jeune et Jolie is at 2659 State St. in Carlsbad. To order, call (760) 637-5266 or visit

The HP Burger from the former Hundred Proof restaurant
The HP Burger from the former Hundred Proof restaurant is being brought back for Trust Restaurant Group’s battle of the burgers challenge for charity.
(Courtesy photo)

Trust Restaurant Group is hosting a “battle of the burgers” from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 19, where customers can purchase a slate of burgers from its Trust, Fort Oak, Cardellino and former Hundred Proof restaurants. Each burger is $17, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the company’s employee relief fund. Orders must be placed online for timed pickup at Fort Oak, 1011 Fort Stockton Drive, Mission Hills. Order at

Trust has also launched an Industry Steak Night on Wednesdays, where the public can purchase three-course steak dinners for laid-off restaurant workers. The cost to donate a meal is $35. The meals will be prepared and packaged for takeout at Rare Society 4130 Park Blvd., San Diego. For purchase and information on receiving a free meal, visit

Big Table - San Diego isn’t a restaurant, but a nonprofit organization that provides support to restaurant and hospitality workers in crisis nationwide. Since it opened its San Diego bureau in 2019, it has provided support to nearly 700 workers, most of them since the pandemic began. With grants from industry vendors like Sysco, Vons and Tito’s Handmade Vodka, it has helped San Diegans with rent, groceries, gas money, counseling, medical and prescription assistance and more. It also does “care blitzes,” like a recent visit to Hyatt Mission Bay where the entire housekeeping staff received $100 grocery gift cards. To donate to Big Table, visit