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SOMA's Source Shutters; Owner Says SF Labor Board "Buried Us"

Another closed restaurant citing new minimum-wage and healthcare laws as its downfall.

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Source, SoMa's "multi-dimensional" vegetarian restaurant, has closed its doors, citing the skyrocketing costs of doing business in San Francisco as the nail in its coffin. The restaurant's goodbye came via a sign posted on the door: "Due to the new labor health laws for a business with more than 20 employees and other unforeseen situations, we cannot afford to run a business of this type in San Francisco. We at Source with our deepest sympathy are leaving S.F. and want to thank our loyal customers and friends for your acceptance and support these last four years."

Source opened in 2011, offering super-purified water and ionized air alongside their vegetarian and vegan offerings. But after four years of what their menu describes as "organic locally sourced 100 percent vegetarian food prepared with love," co-owner Mitchell Fox says that he can no longer afford to operate in a city "that's not friendly for business owners...SF embraced us, then they buried us. Source is a dinosaur."

"In San Francisco, there are so many laws that are for the employee and against the employer," Fox said when reached by phone. "You're working for everybody but yourself." In a refrain that's already become a common one for shuttered restaurants this year, he cites the recent minimum wage increases, as well as SF's Health Care Security Ordinance, which requires businesses with over 20 employees to pay for health insurance and benefits, as the factors that made Source's continued operation untenable. (The latter claim is a bit specious, as the health-care law has been in place since 2010, before Source even opened.)

"I'm a mom-and-pop shop, I can't afford those things," says Fox. "The labor board is a very unfair board, not friendly to business owners at all." Fox is adamant that his business won't be the only one negatively impacted by government-mandated costs, stating "You're going to see a lot more businesses closing because of this...there are many more to come."

Though Source SF has gone the way of the dinosaurs, Fox and his brother/business partner Andrew Fox plan to continue on with their smaller Berkeley outpost, Source Mini. For the moment, they have no plans to resurrect a larger version of Source in a new location.


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