Fifty percent of restaurants in San Francisco are not expected to reopen, according to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
“Do you think you’ll make it?”
“No, I don’t think so,” said Wen Geng, owner of Chinese Cuisine, a popular Hawaiian barbecue lunch spot in the Financial District. “It’s scary, really scary.”
On a typical day, Geng serves 200 people for lunch.
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Now he’s lucky if he has 10 takeout customers.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said looking at his empty kitchen.
Geng’s restaurant is one of 3,900 in San Francisco.
About 17% of the 3,900 restaurateurs rely on takeout to survive amid COVID-19.
The remaining 83% are either temporarily closed or condemned for good.
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“It’s being decimated right now, like a bulldozer,” said Laurie Thomas, executive director of GGRA.
Thomas temporarily closed two of his own restaurants, Terzo and Rose’s Café.
“How many restaurants in San Francisco do you think will be forced to close?” asked ABC7’s Stephanie Sierra.
“We’re concerned it’s about 50%,” she said.
According to data from the California Department of Public Health, 40% of health permits issued to restaurants in San Francisco closed last year.
That’s more than double what the city typically brings in each year.
“The industry was sick, it wasn’t financially sound,” Thomas said, pointing to rising rental costs and additional municipal taxes.
“It is possible that we will see a new surge of COVID-19. How do you think this will affect the reopening of restaurants?” Sierra asked.
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“If we have to open at reduced capacity, which we’re all pretty sure we will,” Thomas said. “How do you run a business and not just bleed money?”
That’s exactly what happened to 40-year-old veteran restaurateur Dennis Berkowitz.
“We have never experienced this before!” he said.
Dennis is famous for his family-owned restaurant chain “Max’s” and a USDA-approved Commissary that provides 75% of take-out food at SFO, Oakland and San Jose airports.
But Dennis and his son Bill Berkowitz, who operates that business, couldn’t make it. They had to lay off almost 150 employees.
“I said Bill, where are we? And he says we’re nowhere, we’re all done. I shipped $3,000 when we normally ship $40,000 worth of goods,” he said. -he declares.
Dennis said Max’s takeout operations ceased operations at all three airports within a week.
A harsh reality facing restaurateurs in the Bay Area.
“What kind of resources will these restaurants need to survive? Sierra asked Laurie Thomas.
“We need help paying for all personal protective equipment or PPE, sourcing it and subsidizing it,” she said.
But, the sad reality is that it won’t take long for many restaurants to even worry about it.
Neighborhood favorites like Three Twins Ice Cream have already been forced to close, along with nearly 20 other restaurants, cafes, cafes and breweries.
Many business owners posted on social media announcing the closures, citing everything from high rents to a lack of solid businesses to take away.
A full list compiled by the San Francisco Chronicle as of (4/24):
- Landmark, Oakland
- Bica Cafe, Oakland
- Bistro Aix, SF Marina
- Black Spring Coffee, Oakland
- Cafe du Soleil, Lower Haight
- Burger, Oakland
- Clarke’s Charcoal Burger, Mountain View
- Cleophus Quealy Brewery, San Leandro
- At Dan Gordon’s, Palo Alto
- Grocery Cafe, Oakland
- Hillside Supper Club
- The cuisine of La Guerrera
- Lalime, Berkley
- Locanda, SF Mission
- Mestiza. SF SOMA
- Momo & Curry, Oakland
- Naked Fish, SF Marina
- Break Wine Bar, SF Hayes Valley
- Restaurant Viognier, San Mateo
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