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As Coronavirus Cases Climb, Bay Area Restaurants Brace for Additional Shutdowns

Also: Plant Cafe Organic’s landlord fight, and more news to know today

Hospital Ship USNS Mercy Arrives at the Port of Los Angeles
California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to announce next week that half of the state must roll back its level of reopening.
Photo by Carolyn Cole-Pool/Getty Images

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your midday roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news from publications near and far. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • As San Francisco’s last days of indoor dining come to a close for now, neighboring counties are also facing pressure to cut restaurant capacity and slow down service inside. Bay City News reports that COVID-19 upticks in Santa Cruz and Contra Costa Counties mean that legally, restaurants must remain at 25 percent capacity, but outdoor, takeout, and delivery service can continue as usual. And in Marin County, the Bay Area News Group reports, officials are asking restaurants to reduce capacity voluntarily, but hasn’t made the request an official order. More rollbacks are likely coming, as ABC 7 reports that state officials expect over half of California to step back one tier in reopening next week. Napa County is one region in which cases have increased at such a level that indoor dining might not be allowed at all, ABC 7 reports, as last weekend the county saw its highest increase in cases and hospitalizations ever.
  • The Frisc has the tale of the Marina location of Plant Cafe Organic, which announced its closure in March, before the coronavirus crisis began in SF. It appears that Plant’s closure was news to its landlord, which has since filed a lawsuit demanding rant payments for April and beyond. Ironically, Plant’s owner says “we’d be OK to be evicted,” but as the city currently has a moratorium on commercial evictions (one that was, per the SF Business Times, just extended through March of 2021), that’s not an option.
  • One day after San Francisco shut indoor dining down, the editorial board of the New York Times demanded that its hometown do the same. “It’s important that the city and state do everything they can to help make outdoor dining safe and successful throughout the colder months,” the Times writes, citing SF as a positive example in terms of cautious roll-backs. But “indoor dining at city restaurants should end,” the paper argues, as “taking these steps will help keep children in the city’s classrooms, which should be a priority.”
  • Josef Betz, the 80-year-old co-owner of classic SF restaurant House of Prime Rib, told Eater SF this week that the closure of indoor dining is “an overkill,” but he’s not going to shut down again, and is selling takeout to walk-up customers. According to SF Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho, that takeout package is “a splurge-worthy event,” albeit one that comes with an “excess” of plastic containers.
  • If you see some out-of-town chain restaurants on your delivery platform of choice, it’s not a mistake: a Bayview ghost kitchen is the new home for app-only iterations of Florida chains like Hurricane Grill & Wings and Buffalo’s Express, as well as international chain Pollo Campero. [SF Business Times]