Chino, the Mission Cal-Asian restaurant from the owners of the booming Tacolicious mini-chain, closed suddenly last night, SFist reported. It all came down to the money, according to owner Joe Hargrave. In the 18 months since it opened, Chino has undergone some growing pains, including a brief closure this summer to onboard new chef/partner Ron Pei, who redid the menu along with his father’s expert dumpling help. As recently as October 24, Chino launched brunch, but it was not enough to save the restaurant, Hargrave told Eater.
“When Ron Pei came back into my life, I was already in my head getting ready to pivot on the concept. I like Ron and he’s talented, so I said, ‘Let’s give it another shot,’” he said. “I wrote another check for $150,000 and the funds went, and I was like, ‘I can’t keep doing this, guys.’ It was starting to get its groove, but unfortunately the clock ran out. We really wanted it to work, but it just financially was not viable.”
Pei is tying up loose ends at the restaurant this week before moving on. Some of the staff will shuffle into Hargrave’s other Tacolicious restaurants, but not all.
Hargrave is retaining the prime location at the corner of 16th and Guerrero, where he signed a 15-year lease, for a new concept to debut next year. “I don’t have any set ideas, but I’m always very comfortable in the Mexican scene, and it’s got just such a great corner and in such a drinking neighborhood, so bar and Mexico,” he mused. “Put that in a shaker and see what comes out.” Hargrave is traveling for the next few weeks, and so he’ll start on the new concept come January. In the meantime, the space is turning into a pop-up and private event space for the winter.