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Fenix Returns to the Ashes After a Quiet May Closure

The restaurant group blames rising rents

Fenix Patricia Chang

Fenix, the Mexican-inspired restaurant from Mercer Restaurant Group, has closed its doors in SoMa with nary a whisper. The restaurant opened just one year ago in the former location of TBD, the restaurant group’s live fire restaurant that had been closed by a fire, and was adjacent to its flagship restaurant AQ, which also closed. The group’s biggest project, Bon Marché, also closed its doors. Along with The Hall, which has always been a temporary venture, Fenix was the group’s last SF outpost.

Though clumped in with the mid-Market crowd, Fenix occupied a gritty stretch of Mission Street, off the beaten path of Union Square shoppers or theater-goers. Though the enthusiasm was there in the food and colorful décor, a rent increase was enough to sink it, according to the restaurant group’s founder Matt Semmelhack. The restaurateur told Inside Scoop that they weren’t able to renegotiate a lease for the restaurant, and anticipating an increase, shut it down the first week of May.

Semmelhack’s partner, Mark Liberman, was the driving force in the kitchen of Fenix, as well as AQ and Bon Marché before those closed. No word on what project he will focus on now, though Scoop hinted that the duo might find another location for that particular project. Even Chronicle critic Michael Bauer was a fan, giving the restaurant a solid two and a half stars and declaring “authenticity can be debated but in the end, good is good."

Stay tuned for more information on if and when Fenix might rise from the ashes (again).

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