SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Bars and restaurants in San Francisco are closing permanently with the coronavirus and the costs of operating a business in the city some business owners say they can’t keep up.
KRON4 spoke to an owner who was forced to close and file for bankruptcy.
“It’s devastating because I’ve spent my whole life building this business and coming to own it and you know, I’ve worked really hard all my life. Did everything right. I paid my bills on time, I’ve always paid my rent on time, I’ve always taken care of my guests and my employees and to go from that position to the position I’m in now is pretty amazing,” said Gabriel Bryant.
Gabriel Bryant, owner of Archive Bar & Kitchen, recently filed for bankruptcy.
It closed because of the shelter-in-place order and said take-out would not generate enough sales to stay open.
“It was kind of the perfect storm. I went from selling the restaurant to transferring the restaurant to a large benevolent group to having to file for bankruptcy within months,” Bryant said.
A neighboring business was supposed to buy his restaurant last month, but they have since pulled out of the deal due to financial burdens from the coronavirus.
Bryant looked at all other options, like loans and financial help to stay afloat, but said that wouldn’t be enough to save his business, which he says is now common in the industry.
“Do all the numbers. I work with people and advisory groups and they go between 30 and even 50% of restaurants due to close in the next 3 or 4 months,” Bryant said.
Bryant says small businesses and restaurants in the city were already struggling to make a profit before the pandemic.
Now the coronavirus is the breaking point for many.
“It’s been bubbling for a while, the restaurant industry in general is getting tougher and tougher. What I’ve noticed in particular over the last two years is everything from minimum wage to rents in going through the cost of goods, everything going around in circles and those margins shrinking point by point and then it’s just kind of the nail in the coffin,” Bryant said.
Restaurants like Ristorante Francino in North Beach, which has been around for three decades, are no exception.
They closed when the shelter-in-place order went into effect because the owners couldn’t imagine turning into a take-out place.
With the pandemic and high operating costs, the family says it was not possible to continue once their lease expired later this year.
“Without serious help from local, state and federal agencies, we are in for a very bad time,” Bryant said.