San Francisco bar owners fight for change in reopening timeline

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – San Francisco bar owners are pleading for the city to change its reopening timeline.

As of now, bars without food are not able to reopen until mid August but they say it’s not soon enough to save businesses from permanent closures.

The Bar Alliance says it’s been a fight every step of the way, they say they want to be treated like the restaurants in the city and be on the same reopen timeline.

In their latest fight, the city could soon allow these bars to reopen under a special set of circumstances.

“It seems like every step of the way we’re being deprioritized, we’re being pushed to the back and being left behind and it’s frustrating constantly to have to fight to be treated the same way restaurants are,” Ben Bleiman said.

Ben Bleiman owns several bars in San Francisco which were forced to close in March because of the coronavirus.

He also represents 400 other bar owners in the city as founder of the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance.

“We can’t open until August 13th and that’s a death knell for a lot of bars. We don’t have money. We’re not driving Teslas, the owners of bars. We’re sending out kids to public school. We often make less than our tipped employees do, work really long hours,” Bleiman said.

Bleiman sent this letter to the city on Tuesday urging leaders to put bars on the same timeline as restaurants.

According to the city’s current timeline, restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining on Friday and resume indoor dining mid July but bars can’t open until mid-August.

In the bar owner alliance’s latest fight, Bleiman says bars are included in the newest draft of the Shared Spaces Program, where restaurants can use the city’s public space for seating. 

“My understanding from the latest orders that I’ve read from the Department of Public Health is that bars will be able to participate in the city’s shared spaces program which means they’ll be able to take over parking spaces and sidewalk space and adjacent spaces provided they serve food through a partner so that could be a food truck, a restaurant,” Bleiman said.

In theory, that would mean bars could also open on Friday if they have a partner to serve food and if it’s permit for the shared spaces program is approved, however, Bleiman says the permit process could take some time.

He also adds outdoor seating won’t be enough to keep these bars afloat.

“It will help some people but it won’t stop the bleeding for the gross majority of the bars in San Francisco,” Bleiman said.

While it’s new information that bars that don’t serve food could reopen with an approved permit and food partner, Bleiman ultimately hopes bars can reopen for indoor service mid July with the same restrictions as restaurants.

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