SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – Two San Francisco restaurants, Cassava and Zuni Cafe, are among the first in the city to require proof of a booster for customers dining inside. It was in August that San Francisco became the first major city to restrict indoor dining to vaccinated customers.
With the rise of the omicron variant in the Bay Area, owners of Cassava in the Outer Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco worried that the vaccine requirements inside the city weren’t enough.
“We want to create a safe working environment for us,” said Yuka Ioroi, co-owner of Cassava.
Ioroi polled customers online and she said those who responded were overwhelmingly in favor of the recall requirement.
“Our clientele tends to be very security conscious, so I wasn’t really surprised,” Ioroi said.
“I think it’s necessary at this stage, at least for the protection of staff,” said boss Stephen McNeil.
Cassava staff are now reinforced against Covid-19, but owners are still concerned about the recall status of customers who walk through their doors.
“Because this particular disease has been known from the beginning to cause you to lose taste and smell, which is detrimental to our careers,” Ioroi said.
The SF Bar Owner’s Alliance, which was one of the first Bay Area hotel groups to call for tighter Covid-19 protocols, weighed in on the recalls on Wednesday.
“We are looking at all options. Everything is on the table to keep our customers and staff safe,” said Ben Bleiman, president of the SF Bar Owner’s Alliance.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association also released a statement on Wednesday saying in part, “We recommend that restaurants require recalls of all employees as soon as possible.”
But the association’s chief executive, Laurie Thomas, refrained from recommending the same requirement for customers inside.
At last count, only 49% of all vaccinated San Francisco residents have received the supplemental vaccine. Thomas said she was concerned that the additional reminder requirement would have the effect of “significantly limiting the number of potential customers”.
But chef Nate Norris of the Zuni Café in San Francisco had a decidedly different view. The upscale Hayes Valley restaurant plans to soon begin requiring boosters for customers who dine indoors.
“We stand to lose a lot more business because we would have to close the restaurant because people are infected, or close the restaurant because there’s a surge of Covid in the community,” Norris said.
The Zuni Cafe said it plans to begin implementing its indoor dining recall requirement on Dec. 29.