Just shy of two years in business, Brasserie Saint James has closed its doors on Valencia Street. The Reno-based brewery and restaurant opened in the former Abbot’s Cellar space in early 2016, bringing an eclectic menu of Southern food and beer brewed in-house to the Mission.
Owner Art Farley says that the decision to permanently shutter came after a planned closure to renovate over the holidays; after reviewing the books, he and his investors decided to close the restaurant. “The revenue just wasn’t compelling enough to keep it open,” Farley told Eater SF. Farley also owns four business in Reno, NV, including a brewery, making the stresses of running a restaurant in San Francisco a burden with low rewards.
“Staffing in San Francisco is awful,” said Farley. “Food is tough here. We weren’t fast casual but we weren’t fine dining — to me, that’s the market now. Slightly upper- to mid-tier restaurants just aren’t en vogue right now.”
Rising minimum wage was also a frustration. “You have service folks who are making more than the kitchen. You have a line cook making $18 an hour, and service folks making $15 plus tips,” said Farley. Still, Farley says he wouldn’t rule out opening a taproom to showcase beer from his Reno brewery in the future, cutting out the complications of running a kitchen.
The Mission saw more closures than openings last year, according to Yelp data reported by the SF Chronicle; restaurants tagged as “American,” as Brasserie Saint James was, also experienced a higher level of closures. Yet, the city continues to experience a rise of fast-casual restaurants with lower margins and labor costs. Neighboring Souvla has three locations and more on the way. Other high-end restaurants, like Rich Table have added quick-service restaurants to the roster: its spinoff RT Rotisserie offers spit-roasted meats as sandwiches or plates, with a large delivery component. Meanwhile, San Francisco remains top-heavy with tasting menus, even managing to outrank New York in its number of three-Michelin-starred restaurants. (SF has seven, NYC has five.)
For now, the restaurant and brewery at 742 Valencia Street is up for sale. The seven-barrel brewhouse could be included with the type-75 on-sale brew pub license; Farley says he’s already been in talks with larger restaurant groups in San Francisco to take over the space. Stay tuned for news on what could soon inhabit the hot piece of Mission real estate.