SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — It’s a disturbing trend in a city where foodies come from all over the world to taste the treats.
A new report by Yelp shows that nearly 500 restaurants closed in San Francisco last year — and some local restaurant owners say they don’t see that trend stopping.
Jardinare, which closed in the spring after 21 years in business, was one of 464 restaurants that closed its doors in 2019.
That number also includes food trucks and deli’s like Lucca Ravioli in the Mission, which shut down after 94 years.
The owners of Dosa, a small chain of South Indian restaurants, shut down it’s Valencia Street location in September after 15 years.
“It’s not surprising to me at all, I think we’re witnessing the death of restaurants as we know it in San Francisco,” said Ben Bleiman, San Francisco Bar Owner’s Alliance. “I think it’s a slow extension but it’s happening and I think 2020 is gonna be even worse.”
Bleiman is with the San Francisco Bar Owners Alliance.
One of his businesses is a bar and restaurant in the Mission called Dr Teeth.
He says the City of San Francisco makes it very hard and very expensive for small businesses with employer mandates like Healthy SF, skyrocketing payroll tax, as well as taxing things like tables and chairs.
He says that financial burden of doing business is passed on to the customers, which makes going out more of a luxury.
“It doesn’t make financial sense to go out anymore. At my bar Dr. Teeth a burger and a beer, a burger with cheese and a beer after taxes tips and fees is $27 and we can’t blame millennials or whoever.”
He says the high cost of food is due to policies implemented by the City of San Francisco.
“The reason the burger and the beer is $27 is primarily because of policies that our San Francisco City Hall have implemented in the last 10 years that have forced us to raise our prices to the point where some tenable,” he said.
He is cautiously optimistic about the vacancy tax ordinance headed for the March ballot which would penalize landlords who keep commercial spaces empty.
But Bleiman says it’s just a drop in the budget in terms of what needs to be done to keep restaurants alive.
He says the city needs legislation big enough and bold enough to make changes needed to save the restaurant industry in this city, before it’s completely destroyed.