Experts say CA's economy won't recover until 2024, but 1 Bay Area city may bounce back sooner

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- California isn't predicted to fully recover until 2024, but experts have reason to believe San Francisco could bounce back sooner.

A month after the state reopened its economy, business owners in San Francisco are seeing the impacts.

"It's definitely busier than it was a month ago," said Kurt Niver, a manager at one of the city's landmark hot spots, Tadich Grill. "We were starting to kick into high gear."

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Since June 15, Niver says his entire staff has returned to the restaurant that's been packed full every lunch rush.

"We haven't seen it this packed in a year and a half," he said. "It feels like the old days."

Niver says the restaurant is now requiring reservations for the first time in 170 years. A promising sign that business travel is starting to crawl back.

"People are coming straight from the airport, not just from all across the city, but all over the country," he said.

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"The numbers are going in the right direction," said owner Umberto Gibin. "We're pretty sure after Labor Day we're going to see a major change."

In September, three back-to-back conventions are scheduled at San Francisco's Moscone Center -- each estimated to accommodate anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people. But, concerns over the Delta variant may impact those figures.

"We don't know what the Delta variant could do to some groups," said Joe D'Alessandro, President and CEO of SF Travel. "It could bring some hesitation for people that may still be concerned about traveling."

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Over the past month, only eight conventions have been confirmed at the Moscone Center for the entire season. A big drop compared to the typical 30 to 40 conventions hosted annually. But, D'Alessandro has more hope for next year.

"Our goal next year is to have 30, 40, 50 conventions," he said. "We would love to see more robust conventions that will really fill our hotels and restaurants like they did in 2019."

Kelly Powers, the Director of the Hotel Council of San Francisco says since the state reopened the city's hotel occupancy rates have grown by roughly 15% on weeknights and 20% on weekends.

"We're seeing more and more demand as people are coming into our city," said Powers. "Many of our hotels are experiencing high demand for booking weddings, anniversaries, and birthday parties."

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In just the past two weeks, iconic hotel bars like the Top of the Mark, The Fairmont's Tonga Room, and the Clift hotel's Redwood Room have all reopened. Another perk -- cable cars will soon be running again.

"In August they'll be running!" Powers said. "The Powell line will be free for our guests and visitors. So that's terribly exciting."

All good signs of progress, but Powers still remains concerned about the Delta variant and the city's recent spike in crime.

"We want to make sure we're united in all the elements that keep our city safe," she said. "It's absolutely key to getting visitors to come back."

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