SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Stay open, hit pause or close it.
This is the terrible dilemma facing restaurant and bar owners in San Francisco.
The cost of doing business in the city was already high before the pandemic, but a growing number of catering establishments are on the verge of permanent closure.
With growing uncertainty about when indoor dining will be allowed again in San Francisco, Staffan Terje says he has made the difficult decision to temporarily close his restaurants.
“We’re still in business, but we’re taking a break,” he said.
Terje owns Perbacco Ristorante and Bar on California Street, as well as Barbaco next door.
He says the take-out orders and limited outdoor dining he offered last month simply didn’t generate enough revenue to stay open.
And just like his neighbor at the Tadich Grill, the funds from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program loan he received are running out.
It was forced to lay off about 113 employees.
Tadich announced this week that it was suspending operations this Friday in hopes of reopening the 171-year-old establishment down the road.
“Our owner has worked with us, so we’re fine with him,” said Terje.
Terje says it will likely remain closed until indoor dining returns.
“At the moment nobody knows anything,” he said.
Business owners believe they can survive this pandemic, but say it depends on community efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.
“When dining out, wear the mask when servers approach and when someone approaches the table,” Laurie Thomas said. “If we can do that and continue what was a rock star result to start in San Francisco, then we have a chance to move forward sooner.”
Robin’s restaurant in Hayes Valley survives on take-out orders.
But it is unclear how long this business model can be sustained.
“We are certainly grateful to have a loyal clientele,” said restaurant manager Daniel Realin. “However, it’s just not like the way we’re used to running our business.”
A grim reminder of hard times less than a block from Robin.
The bar – Smuggler’s Cove – has temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
Another historic bar, The Stud closed permanently at its former location in SoMa last month.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association represents approximately 800 food establishments.
And executive director Laurie Thomas says up to half of them could go bankrupt.
“What we need is more federal money to make this happen,” Thomas said.
“To all restaurant owners, stay strong and healthy and we’ll be back,” said Terje.
That’s the hope — but there are no guarantees.
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