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A Palo Alto Chinese Restaurant on the Verge of Closing Due to Coronavirus-Related Losses

Also: RT Rotisserie and Italian Homemade try out ghost kitchen delivery, and more news to start your day

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The owner of Taste says near-nonexistent sales might force her to close the restaurant any day now

Taste is a three-year-old Sichuan restaurant in downtown Palo Alto that specializes in numbingly spicy dishes like Chongqing xiao mian, but it hasn’t been selling much of anything lately. Owner Sandy Liu tells Palo Alto Online that the restaurant had less than $600 in total sales this past Monday and that sales, overall, have been down 80 to 90 percent for dine-in customers and 50 percent for deliveries ever since coronavirus fears started to mount last month. If that sounds like an unsustainable financial hit for a small restaurant, Liu agrees: She says the restaurant is on the brink of closing permanently, and might do so as soon as this week.

If it does, it might be one of the first restaurants in the Bay Area to close explicitly because of coronavirus-related financial losses — though, certainly, others are struggling. (AL’s Deli, for instance, cited the coronavirus-related loss of catering business as one factor in its decision to close.) But Chinese restaurants, in particular, have disproportionately felt the brunt of that financial impact for weeks — even well before there were confirmed cases of the virus in San Francisco and other Bay Area cities.

As Liu tells Palo Alto Online, “Basically nobody is dining out — for my restaurant, a Chinese restaurant. Who can afford to keep losing money every day?”

And in other news …

  • City Supervisors continue to discuss possible legislative solutions to aid San Francisco businesses that are losing money due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis — “like an immediate recession,” the Golden Gate Restaurant Association director told the Chron. One resolution calls for the suspension of all foreclosures, fees, and penalties to small business. Another potential ordinance, proposed by Supervisor Hillary Ronen, floats the possibility of a $20 million “line of credit” for small businesses at risk of closing. [SFBT]
  • RT Rotisserie and Italian Homemade — both prominent, well-regarded restaurants in San Francisco — have started offering delivery to Peninsula, not by shuttling plates of roast chicken and lasagna down 101, but via DoorDash’s Redwood City ghost kitchen, which also churns out food from national brands like Halal Guys and Chick-fil-A. [SFC]
  • East Bay Express critic Katherine Hamilton reviews Loaded Chickn, a Richmond fried chicken sandwich pop-up she says is like “being inducted into a secret club.” [EBX]
  • A new restaurant from the Belcampo meat company, which touts its commitment to regenerative farming practices, opened this week in San Mateo’s Hillsdale Mall.
  • In other splashy mall opening news, Salt and Straw, the Portland-based boutique ice cream chain, debuts today at the Westfield Valley Fair mall — the first of a number of prominent national brands, including Shack Shack and Eataly, arriving at the San Jose mall’s glitzy new expansion.
Salt and Straw’s new San Jose shop
Salt and Straw’s new San Jose shop
Vantage Point Photo