Nine months after opening to the Emeryville public with upscale British pub fare, CommonWealth Micropub has closed. Owners announced on Friday that "with a mixture of sadness and relief," Saturday was the restaurant’s last day. Unable to pin down any one reason, they wrote on Facebook that, "the concept did not meet the demand we anticipated for our efforts to be sustainable."
CommonWealth opened with a 20 percent gratuity charge automatically included in menu prices, something that may have been off-putting to diners. One Facebook user commented on the closure announcement post that "the tipless pricing model didn't really encourage frequent patronage from myself or peeps [sic] I know in the neighborhood." He cited, for example, the "delicious" pot pie, which at the owners’ other restaurant CommonWealth Cafe on Telegraph Avenue is $13.50. With gratuity included, the price at CommonWealth Micropub was $17. "A bit much" in his opinion, he wrote. Another user agreed, writing that "the prices were daunting on paper." While San Francisco is helping to pioneer gratuity-included pricing with some restaurants like Zazie and Old Bus Tavern determined to make it work, it is still somewhat rare at the casual level, and has failed in other restaurants like Bar Agricole and Aster, which recently reverted back to the traditional pricing model.
This may not be the total end for CommonWealth Micropub, though. "We are actively seeking an alternative solution with the hope that the community can enjoy the space again in the near future," the owners also wrote. CommonWealth Cafe will remain open, and for now, the CommonWealth Micropub location will serve as a pop-up and private event space, as well as a commissary kitchen for CommonWealth Cafe.