A quick-service restaurant with high hopes for the popularity of piri-piri chicken in San Francisco has closed on Valencia Street. Piri Pica, which recently changed its name to Piri Picante, was in business for about a year.
“We just couldn’t make it happen the way we wanted it to,” says founder and CEO Khalid Mushasha, who opened Piri Pica with Uma Casa chef/owner Telmo Faria. Their menu was devoted to the grilled Portuguese chicken dish, spicy by dint of African bird’s-eye chili peppers, accompanied by sides like saffron rice, grilled corn, and braised collard greens.
Piri Pica’s large space at 590 Valencia Street included room for lots of dine-in customers, but take-out and delivery were also a focus. Still, the business didn’t reach the sales volume it needed to survive, says Mushasha. In the end, “we just had to make an educated decision. We’re not making ends meet.”
Mushasha is currently negotiating the sale of the space. High rent, another factor in the closure, forced a previous tenant, Frjtz, to choose a smaller space in the building; ultimately, it closed as well. Now Piri Pica has been served an eviction notice while negotiations continue with their landlord.
“The staff were great, the customers were great as well,” says Mushasha. ”We tried really hard, that was great, but we just couldn’t make it work.”
Fans still hooked on Portuguese chicken can find the dish in Noe Valley: It remains on the menu at chef Faria’s more upscale, sit-down restaurant Uma Casa.