Cover of San Diego Magazine’s April issue.

After a three-month hiatus due to the economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic, San Diego Magazine has resumed business operations.

The website, social media and digital newsletters are currently live featuring a list of black-owned restaurants and upcoming food and blood drives. A food-and-drink-eatery podcast called “Happy Half Hour” was posted June 11.

The print publication is scheduled to return Aug. 18 with bi-monthly issues planned for August-September, October-November and December-January issues and an expected return to regular monthly print issues in early 2021. May, June and July 2020 issues will not be printed.

“Shutting down was strictly a business decision due to outside forces, including an absence of public events and advertisers on hold,” publisher Jim Fitzpatrick told the Times of San Diego. “People understood our reasoning for the pause. The people, places and things that we typically write about weren’t open. But, I never doubted that we would re-launch and return in the near future, it was just a matter of when.”

The publishing company, operating for 72 years since 1948, temporarily shut its doors in March to wait out the virus-induced economic uncertainty. Fitzpatrick said 37 employees were laid off at the time, and 20 staff members have been rehired, including four in editorial, five in advertising sales and three covering digital and social media assignments.

“We’re all very excited and anxious to get back to work and create all the great content for San Diego,” said Fitzpatrick. “We have heard from our many readers and advertisers who are excited that we’re back in business. Our mission has always been to inform and share stories about the restaurants, events, activities and places that make San Diego special.”

Fitzpatrick, 74, has served as San Diego Magazine publisher for more than 25 years, beginning in 1994 the first time and currently since 2010 when he returned a second time as owner.

“I understand the reasons for the shutdown, and we have more data today than we had three months ago,” Fitzpatrick said. “But, in retrospect, I think we will look back at this time and realize that the shutdown was necessary at the time because no one knew what we were dealing with. But the delay in reopening, as we learned new information, was a huge overreaction.”

Jim Fitzpatrick

According to editor Erin Meanley Glenny, “Things have definitely changed but our team is committed to picking up where we left off, doing what we have done best for the last 72 years, inspiring, entertaining, sparking conversation and lifting our community as a whole. Like the rest of San Diego, we will be finding our way in this uncharted territory and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to tell the stories of the people and businesses making our region the incredible place it is. We will be highlighting those in need and calling on our readers to donate, volunteer and support.”

In addition to the monthly magazine and several custom publications, the company annually produces a number of high-profile public events in the spring and summer, several of which have been cancelled. Fitzpatrick said decisions have yet to be made about the fate of upcoming fall events, including “The Best of North County” on Oct. 11, “Top Doctors Celebration” on Oct. 23, “Celebrating Women” on Nov. 12 and “Brunch Bash” on Nov. 23.

“We’re still discussing upcoming signature events. It will depend on market conditions,” Fitzpatrick said. “I think many people, tired of being cooped-up and quarantined at home for months, will be ready and eager to get out, socialize with other people and enjoy themselves. None of us were created to do life alone and isolated. All of our staff members are thrilled to celebrate our community and champion local efforts.”

After 10 Months, Marketing Exec Becomes President of Luna Grill

Ten months ago, in August 2019, San Diego-based Luna Grill hired Rich Pinnella as the company’s first-ever chief brand officer. Today, Pinnella is company president of the fast-casual, Mediterranean restaurant chain. Company CEO and co-founder Sean Pourteymour has handed-over day-to-day operations to Pinnella and will focus on long-term expansion.

Rich Pinella

“Back in 2018, we assessed the company, examining the infrastructure, talent and brand positioning and began searching for the right people to enhance the executive team,” said Pourteymour. “We knew it was time to start looking for someone to take over, but we also knew it had to be someone with the right approach, leadership style and match with the Luna Grill brand and culture.”

“Rich, along with our new CFO Bob Bartlett, were two of those first key hires and we always had the long-term goal of Rich eventually moving into a key leadership role,” he added. “Rich has been nothing but impressive from the first day, and recent volatilities and the need to innovate have further showcased his leadership ability across our entire organization.”

“We know our food travels well and like to tell our customers to let us replace-your-kitchen with fresh, delicious meals prepared with quality ingredients,” said Pinnella. “Recent dramatic changes to the dining landscape have given us the opportunity to push off-premise even further, through the COVID pandemic we have grown our delivery business over 150 percent, which was already a significant layer pre-COVID.”

The company said Pinnella will continue to direct the overall Luna Grill brand position and marketing efforts working with the team already in place, with modifications to team member roles and possible new additions coming in the future. A statement said Pinnella plans to continue the company’s focus on strategic growth, menu innovation and commitment to the highest quality ingredients and scratch preparation.

“Sean and I both believe the best way to build a successful company is to develop and bring brilliant people on board, then step aside and let them do what they do best,” said Pinnella.

Before making the move to Luna Grill in 2019, Pinnella was an executive with Taco Bell for 20 years, serving the last seven as a vice president and general manager. Over the two decades, Pinnella directed U.S. and international functional heads to deliver results across marketing, beverage, culinary, operations, and supply chain, through an international expansion to more than 500 restaurants.

Founded in 2004, Luna Grill operates 50 restaurants in Southern California and the Dallas-Fort Worth areas. Its fresh Mediterranean cuisine includes kabob plates, gourmet salads, appetizers that include hummus and falafel, wraps, desserts, craft beer and wine.

The sunset concert at Petco Park. Photo by Eric Scire

$50K Raised at Local Media’s Drive-in Concerts at Petco Park

San Diego radio station operator Local Media San Diego announced that $50,000 was donated to Feeding San Diego, a hunger relief charity, as net proceeds from two drive-in concerts held June 7 at Petco Park. The company said they were the first live concerts in California since the COVID-19 shutdown in March.

Fans watched from their cars and responded with honking ovations at both sold-out concerts, including an afternoon concert starring B-Side Players, SM Familia and Los Sleepwalkers, followed by sunset performances by Hirie and headliner Switchfoot, a Grammy Award-winning San Diego band. The concerts, presented by Baker Electric Home Energy, were co-produced by Local Media San Diego, the San Diego Padres and Westward Entertainment. Attendance was limited to 250 vehicles.

“I’ve missed live music so much this year, whether I’m listening to it or playing it,” said Jon Foreman, lead singer of Switchfoot. “I’m so thankful for our friends at 91X and the Padres for the event. It felt amazing to raise some money for Feeding San Diego. Felt even better to turn it up and play it loud in the heart of my hometown.”

Gregg Wolfson, president and general manager of Local Media San Diego, said, “What a historic day bringing live concerts back to the state of California and our hometown San Diego. We are grateful for everyone’s contributions to make this event a success and give much-needed support to Feeding San Diego.”

LMSD owns and operates four radio stations in the San Diego market, including XTRA-FM 91X, XHTZ-FM Z90.3, XHRM-FM Magic 92.5, and (KFBG-FM).

KFMB-TV Helps Raise $45k for American Heart Association

The American Heart Association announced that KFMB-TV CBS 8 and its sister station CW6 helped raise $45,000 for the nonprofit in a joint promotion held with Mission Federal Credit Union.

The AHA’s “Go Red for Women” campaign held during January and February included the selling of Rhinestone lapel pins for $20 and tie clips for $10 at local credit union branches.

“All of us at Mission Fed were honored to raise funds for the San Diego division of the American Heart Association,” said Debra Schwartz, CEO of Mission Fed. “The Go Red for Women movement touches hearts, saves lives and makes a real difference in the fight against heart disease.”

Rick Griffin

Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.

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