Bernal Heights could lose its butcher shop this summer: Avedano’s has announced that it will close its doors on June 30. Like many businesses that have called it quits in San Francisco, the butcher and sandwich shop has come up against rent hikes, labor shortages, and other challenges that have made doing business untenable. The biggest challenge, however? Competing with the likes of Amazon, Good Eggs, and other delivery apps, says owner Angela Wilson
Avedano’s opened in 2007 with sustainably raised meats, and prepared foods in the former location of Cicero’s Meats, established in 1955 by the Cicero family. Of the three original founders, Angela Wilson remains at the 12-year-old business with co-owner Erin Singer; she says hasn’t turned a profit in two years.
According to Wilson, the fact that she has a new landlord with plans for massive construction and renovation isn’t the real problem, though that project would effectively end their access to a kitchen for the foreseeable future. “It has more to do with the demographics of the city and the fact that people buy things online and want to use stores to supplement what they buy online,” says Wilson. “We’ve created two market places for the same amount of people.”
Even Avedano’s status as a legacy business (an initiative from the SF Planning committee that provides bars and restaurants with small grants) hasn’t alleviated the issues facing the business. Regardless of increased rent, the closure was unavoidable, says Wilson. In a letter posted to the store’s website, Wilson wrote:
Our building, and the building next door which houses our private dining room (the Udder Room), our kitchen, bathroom and general storage and production space, have been sold. Our rent has more than doubled and we are unclear of how the planned demolition and rebuilding will impact our overall business and infrastructure. This major blow coupled with the steady crisis growing in finding solid labor who can afford to live in a city not made for diversity in class has resulted in this hard decision. We have withstood the drought, increased operating costs, many changing trends in food, break-ins, building repair, etc., but we feel that our bodies and minds can no longer go on.
“The neighborhood wants to blame somebody else rather than themselves and they want to blame the bad landlord,” said Wilson. “My old landlord had the building since 1955, so my rent did increase but it’s not the new landlord’s fault. The community doesn’t shop here, they love to have it and it makes their houses worth a lot of money but they’re going down to Safeway.”
Fellow Bernal business Heartfelt, a gift shop that had been open for 20 years announced this week that it would close due to “sluggish sales and changing shopping habits,” and nearby bar Iron and Gold closed in December after its owner was unable to renegotiate the lease.
Despite the frustrations, Wilson wants to stay open on Cortland. If a deal can be struck with a buyer or investor, she’s willing to run the business and keep the doors open at Avedano’s. “I’m more than happy to keep this running,” says Wilson. “I just don’t want it to give me an early death.”
“We, as a community, have to make a conscious choice about what we want our future to look like and not just let things happen to us.”
Stay tuned on the future of Avedano’s, which will remain open until June 30.