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Many SF Restaurants Don’t Know How They’ll Pay Rent In April

Also: A call to reopen restaurant dining rooms, and more news to start your day

Restaurant owners are worried about writing a rent check by April 1
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A Bay Area restaurant magnate says that many SF restaurants won’t be able to pay rent on April 1.

Savvy newsreaders know to expect shenanigans when the date “April 1” is mentioned in a news story, but this year, April 1 is anything but a joke. That’s the day most landlords expect the rent to be paid, but according to folks like Greg Flynn, the CEO of San Francisco-based Flynn Restaurant Group (which owns and operates 1,250 Applebee’s, Taco Bell, Panera and Arby’s across 33 states), those checks might not be sent out this month.

Speaking with the SF Business Times, Flynn says that “I believe restaurants, in general, will have real trouble paying rent in April,” as few have been able to generate much income since coronavirus-related closure orders were issued. It’s a concern echoed by Adriano Paganini, the founder of the Back of the House restaurant group, which includes pizza destination Beretta, upscale vegan spot Wildseed, and burger mini-chain Super Duper. Speaking to Eater SF last week, Paganini said he wasn’t sure how, in the face of the Bay Area’s order to shelter in place, his company would be able to pay next month’s rent on his multitude of restaurants, as it was unlikely that delivery and takeout sales would cover the costs.

Then there are other costs to consider. Recology, the trash collection company for San Francisco, continues to issue bills even for bars and restaurants that have no compost, recycling, or garbage to pick up. Or what about sports bars, all of which have spent big on cable packages for games that aren’t even being played? Speaking with Axios, Neil Holbrook, the co-owner of Lower Pacific Heights game day destination the San Francisco Athletic Club, says “We pay $1,500 a month for every sports [TV] package known to man,” all for content that no longer exists and — if it did — would be played in an empty room.

Writing for the SF Examiner, columnist Sasha Perigo says that San Francisco’s city hall should abolish rent and mortgage payments for the crisis period, as “renters who don’t have cash on hand to pay rent this month certainly aren’t going to have cash on hand to pay double next month or, god forbid, triple the month after,” as they would if rent were just paused and not forgiven. While Perigo’s column was focused on residential tenants, one has to wonder if similar proposals are being discussed by restaurateurs, as they, too, might not have enough income to pay rent for months to come.

And in other news...

  • An East Bay restaurant owner says that restaurant dining rooms should remain open, and asks “have you seen the crowds recently at Whole Foods? Why is that allowed?” [East Bay Times]
  • The owner of Los Gatos small plates spot Flights Restaurant has opened a “no-touch” grocery store in the parking lot of his business. [NBC Bay Area]
  • The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, which is indeed open for business, has put up caution tape and chalk lines to eliminate contact with its goods. [SF Chronicle]
  • This year’s Gilroy Garlic Festival has been canceled, but it will rise again on the weekend of July 23-25, 2021. [KPIX]
  • Faced with a delay to the baseball season, Oakland A’s minor league pitcher Peter Bayer signed up to become a DoorDash delivery driver. [East Bay Times]
  • Restaurants that have been legally forced to close have turned to their business insurance for help — but insurance companies say their policies don’t cover a pandemic. [Eater National]
  • Richmond-based Falcon Spirits Distillery has pivoted from making gin and Amaro to locally and artisanally concocted hand sanitizer, which he then sells at cost to organizations and officials that need it most. [Berkeleyside]
  • Palo Alto restaurant Tootsies has launched a program called “Adopt A Doc or Nurse,” in which customers order food that’s then delivered to hospital workers. “It’s been really exciting...seeing people jump on the bandwagon and supporting Tootsies,” owner Rocco Scordella says. [KRON 4]
  • East Bay authors Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon are working on a similar plan to the above for the East Bay. Restaurants that want to participate should email Waldman at

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

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San Francisco Athletic Club

1750 Divisadero St., San Francisco, CA 94115