clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Isla Vida Closes in Fillmore After Less Than One Year in Business

Owners were unable to keep up with high operational costs

If you buy something from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

A spread of food at Isla Vida Melissa de Mata

Isla Vida opened last fall in San Francisco’s historically black Fillmore district, serving chef and co-owner Jay Foster’s Afro-Caribbean cuisine. Since then its struggled to stay open, even starting an Indigogo campaign to cover operating costs and rent. Now comes news that it quietly closed at the end of July.

The fast-casual restaurant took over the space formerly occupied by Black Bark, a fast-casual barbecue restaurant from seasoned restaurateur David Lawrence (1300 Fillmore) that also struggled to stay open in the neighborhood, eventually closing after two years.

“We are working VERY hard to stay in our beloved Fillmore District of San Francisco,” read a message on the fundraising page, which went on to list delays on implementing delivery service, obtaining a beer and wine license, and opening as some of the issues that impacted the restaurant from the start. Light foot traffic was also a factor, according to the SF Chronicle, a problem experienced by Black Bark as well.

Foster, whose soul food restaurant Farmer Brown closed after 13 years in 2018, and partners Matthew Washington and Erin Traylor, opened the restaurant with hopes of bringing back black-owned businesses to the area. “Being born and raised in San Francisco, and more specifically the Fillmore district, this has always been a dream of mine... to employ people in the community that I come from”, Washington said at the time.

Isla Vida’s closure leaves San Francisco with little representation of Caribbean cuisine; Jamaican restaurant Kaya closed in May. Foster currently has no plans to reopen the restaurant. Stay tuned.


618 North Thornton Avenue, , FL 32803 Visit Website

Isla Vida

1325 Fillmore Street, , CA 94115 (415) 678-5171 Visit Website


25 Mason Street, SF, CA