San francisco restaurants

Complex guidelines force San Francisco restaurants to remove parklets

The majority of parklets in San Francisco — up to 90% — could be demolished in the coming weeks, thanks to more than 60 pages of new rules and regulations approved after the vote that made the Shared Spaces program permanent in July. The estimate comes from Laurie Thomas, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and owner of two SF restaurants, who told the San Francisco Chronicle she was “utterly blindsided” when she and others received packages containing the new extended guidelines in September.

Since the Shared Spaces program launched as a temporary emergency measure in the spring of 2020, the rules governing outdoor dining structures have changed several times. The complexity, confusion and cost have already caused some restaurateurs, including Danel de Betelu of Maison Danel, who spent around $20,000 to build a parklet in 2020, to tear down their parklets earlier this year. But when the supervisory board made the program permanent this summer, others took it as a green light to invest in construction. Now business owners, including Elmer Mejicanos of Red Window in North Beach, say they are being told they must modify their parklets or face hundreds of dollars in fines every day.

The expanded regulations aim to make outdoor dining safer and more accessible, but rollout has been problematic, with some business owners receiving conflicting advice on what needs to be done to bring their parklets up to code. “This is the most messy, messy and insulting display of government incompetence,” supervisor Aaron Peskin told the the Chronicle. [SF Chronicle]

The old Sparky’s Diner is officially being demolished

Last week the Planning Commission approved plans to demolish and redevelop Sparky’s Diner’s former home in the Castro, Hoodline reports. The 24-hour neighborhood favorite closed abruptly in 2016 and has remained vacant ever since, although the building next door still houses Thorough Bread and Pastry. The developer says he is working with the decade-old bakery to create a space for the business to re-enter once construction is complete. [Hoodline]

San Francisco Brunch Sensation Sweet Maple Expands

The owner of Sweet Maple, the hit brunch spot known for its breakfast pizza and Millionaire bacon, plans to open six impressive new restaurants in 2022. Owner Hoyul Steven Choi told the SF Chronicle he plans to bring Sweet Maple to Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, Cupertino and Santa Monica, as well as open a joint kitchen story and U:Dessert Story in Mountain View, and launch a new restaurant called Noodle Story in Parkside in SF. [SF Chronicle]

Santa Clara’s Favorite Mongolian BBQ Spot Closing

Due to the impacts of the pandemic, the Mongolian barbecue El Camino will close its doors on December 15 after nearly 30 years of operation, according to SFGate. Owner John Seo will also have to return to South Korea with his wife Sunny after the restaurant closes, as they will no longer be able to legally stay in the United States. [SFGate]

Sacramento gets its first Puerto Rican restaurant

A trio of Sacramento industry veterans plan to open the city’s first Puerto Rican-specific restaurant in March at 6401 Riverside Blvd. in the Greenhaven district. Called Bodega, it will serve both “tacos and burgers with island twists” and “traditional fare” including Jamaican patties and tripleta, the Sacramento bee reports. [Sacramento Bee]