Longstanding Valencia Street hip-casual dinner-and-a-cocktail spot Luna Park will close by the end of the year, the restaurant's owner AJ Gilbert told Uptown Almanac over the weekend. According to Gilbert, the popular brunch spot with the whimsical early-aughts flair, is closing due to an expected increase in labor costs that will come along a $15 minimum wage in San Francisco. Although the minimum wage bill doesn't actually go before voters until election day next week, Gilbert believes it is a sure-thing. (Likewise, many other bars and restaurants aren't happy about the proposal.)
Although Gilbert didn't divulge the bar's new owners, the ABC paperwork lists "Gaslight Cafe Partners LLC" as the proud new owner of the bar's full liquor license. The LLC's address is also listed as 3138 Fillmore Street—better known to the city's bottleservice crowd as MatrixFillmore in Cow Hollow—and also home to Gavin and Hilary Newsom's PlumpJack Group. So, while Gilbert tells Uptown Almanac that the new bar will be "a great addition to the neighborhood," it will also be sharing some DNA with a club that used to have ottomans in the shape of the letters S, E, and X. Also, per Gilbert, the new bar will have fewer staff by virtue of not being a full restaurant, and will thus avoid the increased labor costs that (allegedly) would have sunk Luna Park. While there will apparently be fewer employees at the new establishment, Gilbert says his soon-to-be-former workers will be offered positions there.
A commenter over at Uptown Almanac also points out Luna Park's sister restaurant in Los Angeles changed hands in early 2013. One of the restaurant's original founders also moved to Puerto Vallarta and opened a taco shop awhile back, so this might just be a politically charged exit strategy.
Eater reached out to Mrs. Newsom, who oversees the PlumpJack's operations, for more details on Monday,
but our requests for comment were not returned by Tuesday morning (See below). We will, of course, update you as the details come in.
Update: In an email to Eater, Hilary Newsom writes a very political no-comment:
"While it is premature to discuss the future of Luna Park in detail, PlumpJack Group is always looking for opportunities to maximize our investments and add to our dynamic collection of hospitality and lifestyle businesses in Northern California. Luna Park is one of the properties we have looked at; however, it would be premature to discuss plans at this point. I look forward to discussing further as appropriate."