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Here’s How Coronavirus Is Impacting the Bay Area Food World

Tracking the effect that COVID-19 is having on Bay Area restaurants in terms of policy, finances, cancellations, and more

COVID-19 Fillmore District
Empty streets in the Fillmore District on a recent Saturday night
Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

In recent weeks, the spread of novel coronavirus (aka COVID-19) around the world — and now, increasingly, in the Bay Area — has had a huge impact on the local food economy, starting, initially, with Chinese restaurants suffering tremendous financial losses, but now rippling out to affect many of the Bay Area’s food businesses.

In this post, we’ve collected all of Eater’s previous coronavirus coverage and will update this page frequently to include links to new stories, as well as shorter news items, about the effects of coronavirus on the restaurant scene — and how local restaurants are responding to these challenges — in San Francisco and beyond.

MARCH 20

How to Stock Up on Essentials While Supporting SF Food Businesses

When everyone else is panic buying at Costco and Whole Foods, your neighborhood bakeries and butcher shops might be the smarter places to shop.

There’s No Good Way for a Restaurant Group to Lay 1,127 People Off at Once

Workers at Adriano Paganini’s Back of the House restaurants initially found out they’d lost their jobs via a notification from their scheduling app.

18 Essential Cookbooks From San Francisco Restaurants

For San Franciscans craving the comforts of their favorite restaurant as they hunker down across the city, these cookbooks provide a way to experience those dishes at home.

Mayor London Breed Warns San Franciscans Against Throwing Dinner Parties

“Shelter-in-place means you and your family members and people who are part of your household are the only people in your household.”

MARCH 19

Bay Area Restaurants Rally to Support Health Care Workers

One coffee shop’s initiative to allow people to buy pastries and coffee for local health care workers has been hugely popular.

East Bay Restaurants That Are Open for Takeout and Delivery During the Coronavirus Shutdown

A running list of places — in Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond, Alameda, and beyond — that are still open and serving food.

Blue Bottle Coffee Says Lack of Coronavirus Data Spurred US-Wide Closure

Meanwhile, the company’s coffee shops in Japan and South Korea — which have much more robust data — remain open.

MARCH 18

SF Bar and Restaurant Owners Call on the City for Relief: ‘We’re on a Sinking Boat’

One of the more creative proposals calls for the city to release unused Healthy San Francisco funds so that bars and restaurants can pay laid-off workers for their lost wages.

San Francisco Farmers Markets Are Open For Business

The Ferry Building market has seen a steep drop in both vendors and customers — but many farmers are still on hand ready to feed the people.

Can You Get Booze Delivered During the Time of Coronavirus?

The answer is yes — with a few caveats.

Grocery Stores Respond to Coronavirus Crisis With Seniors-Only Shopping Hours

The idea is to give those who are vulnerable the chance to (more) safely shop.

Coronavirus-Related Shutdown Stymies St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

With all of the local bars — including the Irish bars — temporarily closed, the streets were empty for St. Patrick’s Day this year.

MARCH 17

Here Are All The San Francisco Restaurants That Are Open For Delivery And Takeout

A running (though not comprehensive) list of places that are still open for business.

San Franciscans Brawl Over Social Distance at Local Grocery Store

Local Safeways and other grocery stores were the site of some tense — and even violent — confrontations, as SF residents scrambled to stock up on supplies after yesterday’s shelter-in-place announcement.

‘This Is Like Armageddon’: Bay Area Chefs Respond to the Region-Wide Lockdown

A day after Bay Area dining rooms were ordered to close, chefs report massive layoffs, tentative plans to pivot to takeout and delivery, and a whole lot of unease.

‘Coronavirus Concerns’ Close All Restaurants At Yosemite National Park

The park remains open, but all of the restaurants and hotels on site are now closed.

What It’s Like to Open a Restaurant in San Francisco During the Coronavirus Crisis

The new Mission location of Reem’s opened for business last week — just days before the whole Bay Area restaurant world turned upside down.

MARCH 16

Despite Orders Not to Panic, Noe Valley Whole Foods Descends Into a Spot of Controlled Chaos

The grocery was packed shortly after the mayor’s “shelter in place” announcement.

San Franciscans Ordered to Remain Home and Shelter in Place, Restaurants May Remain Open For Takeout And Delivery

Residents in six Bay Area counties have all been ordered to stay at home except for “essential needs” through April 7, though restaurants and coffee shops are permitted to stay open for takeout and delivery service.

Former CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (and His Pets) Say ‘Don’t Go To Restaurants’

The former governor advised staying home as much as possible in a video he posted on Twitter.

MARCH 15

California Governor Gavin Newsom Says All Bars and Wineries Should Close to Fight Spread Of Coronavirus

The governor’s directive wasn’t yet an official order and didn’t apply to restaurants.

MARCH 13

La Taqueria to Shutter Temporarily, and More Coronavirus-Related Restaurant Closings

This is a running list of all the restaurants in San Francisco that have closed due to the coronavirus epidemic — mostly temporary closures, for now, but also some permanent ones.

SF Bans ‘Non-Essential’ Gatherings of Over 100 People, Says Large Restaurants Must Decrease Dining Room Size

Everything you need to know about dining out in the Bay Area during the coronavirus outbreak, including county by county recommendations from the local health departments.

Is the New Coronavirus Really Spurring a Boom in Food Delivery?

The conventional wisdom says that because large numbers of customers are staying home instead of dining out, delivery business should be on the rise — but a number of SF restaurateurs say that hasn’t really been the case.

MARCH 12

  • Jack London Square, on the Oakland waterfront, has suspended all events through at least the end of March. That includes the weekly Sunday farmers market, whose kiosks feature a number of Bay Area food vendors and restaurants, including Cholita Linda and Roadside Rotisserie.
  • FiDi wine bar the Barrel Room has halted lunch service and laid off about two-thirds of its 30-person staff this week, as the restaurant saw a 50 percent drop in sales starting this past Monday. Owner Sarah Trubnick tells Eater SF that she made the decision quickly in the hopes that she’d be able to save the business and, eventually, hire those employees back when those current coronavirus crisis passes. “A couple of weeks like that and you’re bankrupt,” she says. In the meantime, Trubnick says the restaurant is starting a new policy of taking employees’ temperatures when they arrive for work — and offering up to 14 days of paid sick leave for workers who need it.

Bay Area Restaurants Pivot to Takeout-Only Service as a Coronavirus Mitigation Measure

Arthur Mac’s in Oakland is one of a handful of Bay Area restaurants that are eliminating their dine-in option, at least for the next couple of weeks.

Even COVID-19 Can’t Keep People Out of SF Coffee Shops (as Long as They’re Not Downtown)

With more and more office workers are being asked to telecommute, San Francisco’s coffee shops haven’t necessarily seen a steep drop in business — though the times when they get busy are now totally different.

Food Delivery Companies Aim to Provide ‘Social Distance’ With No-Contact Delivery Options

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, delivery companies like Postmates and DoorDash are offering “no-contact” delivery options, which vary from company to company, but mostly involve drivers leaving food deliveries outside so that no face-to-face contact is necessary.

SF Ice Cream Shop Allegedly Threatened by City Agency Following COVID-19 Cancellation

Churn was supposed to cater the city’s annual Arbor-Eco Fair. When the event was canceled at the eleventh hour, a Department of Public Works official demanded a full refund — even though the shop had already spent the money to purchase the necessary ingredients.

MARCH 11

A Michelin-Starred Restaurant Cleared Out Half Its Tables to Make Customers Feel Safe

Plumed Horse, a $168 tasting menu spot in Saratoga, cleared all but 15 of the 37 tables in its dining room — maintaining a six-foot distance between each one — as part of an effort to make customers feel more comfortable dining there, given concerns about coronavirus transmission.

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

MARCH 10

Off the Grid Cancels Its Flagship Fort Mason Event Due to Coronavirus Concerns

MARCH 9

Amid Coronavirus Fears, Tech Companies Cut Back on Pie Orders for Pi Day

The fact that the big tech companies started encouraging their employees to work from home had big ripple effects on restaurants and bakeries that depend on corporate catering business. Bakeries specializing in pie took an especially big hit.

José Andrés Will Feed Cruise Ship Passengers in Oakland for Coronavirus Quarantine

MARCH 6

Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Sales Quadruple Due to Coronavirus Stockpiling

The legendary Napa-based purveyor of dried beans was the unlikely beneficiary of customers stocking up in case of a long quarantine.

MARCH 2

Coronavirus Fears Lead to ‘Panic-Buying’ at Bay Area Supermarkets

FEBRUARY 27

SF Restaurants Say Coronavirus ‘State of Emergency’ Prompts Mass Cancellations

After SF mayor London Breed declared a preemptive state of emergency regarding the coronavirus on February 25, restaurants such as Nightbird, in Hayes Valley, immediately saw cancellations of a third (or more) of their reservations.

FEBRUARY 12

Novel Coronavirus Fears Cut Chinatown Restaurant Business by 50 Percent

Businesses in both the Oakland and SF Chinatowns were hit hard by novel coronavirus panic and a precipitous drop in tourism from China.

FEBRUARY 5

Chinatown Bakery Fights Coronavirus Rumors

Weeks before there were any confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city, restaurants in San Francisco’s Chinatown were subject to unfounded rumors — in one case that a worker at a popular bakery had been diagnosed with the virus.

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