San francisco restaurants

San Francisco restaurants are going virtual because the rent is too high

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Image: Tijana87 (iStock)

You may have heard that San Francisco is one of the most expensive rental markets in the country. You may have heard that it is possible to pay $1,200 a month for a bunk bed there and that there are more restaurants closing now than to open. You may have heard that third-party delivery services charge restaurants double digit commissions up to 30%, more other hidden fees . So you might be wondering how does a struggling restaurateur manage to stay in business?

They do this by going virtual. Instead of having a physical space, they are moving to a full delivery model, which means they can operate anywhere, as long as they have an oven and an order-taking system.

ABC7 News in San Francisco interviewed one such restaurant owner, Rick Richman, who runs his Mission District pizzeria, Firepie, out of a few trucks in a parking lot. He told ABC7 that delivery was becoming more popular than dinner anyway, and that was the only way he could stay open.

Always helpful, Uber Eats has created a guide open a virtual restaurant; it promises business owners that “this program allows you to build new brands and bring new cuisines to customers, without the risk and expense of opening another physical location.”

ABC7 spoke to an expert who described the move to virtual as “an operational nightmare” and predicted the result would not be more virtual small businesses, but an influx of chains, which can afford to pay the rent .