Pride is typically one of the San Francisco restaurant industry’s most lucrative events, but this year it just isn’t happening.
It wasn’t until Tuesday that organizers of SF Pride, the city’s annual days-long celebration of the LGBTQ community, announced that the late-June event would be canceled, following arguments from organizations like Curbed SF that holding it during a pandemic would spread infections of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) and cost many people their lives.
SFist reports that “part of the delay and debate stemmed from forces within City Hall who were pushing for a postponement,” which makes a certain sort of sense when you look at these 2016 statistics from the San Francisco Business Times — as of four years ago, the event generated $186.9 million in local spending, with $33.6 million of that going to area restaurants, a 345 percent increase in business.
It’s unlikely that that figure has significantly decreased in the intervening years, which means that the restaurant industry, which by then might be emerging from the region’s shelter-in-place order clad in masks and with decreased dining room capacity, won’t have that revenue bump this year.
With Governor Gavin Newsom saying Tuesday afternoon that “large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based on our expectations,” it seems likely that food, comedy, weed, and music festival Outside Lands — which also has a noticeable positive impact on the local food industry — will be canceled next. Speaking on ABC 7, SF Chronicle columnist Phil Matier says that there doesn’t seem to be any alternative besides cancellation for the early August event, as “how comfortable are you going to a concert wearing a mask how? How comfortable are you at a restaurant with other people? There are rules and then there is the comfort level, and ultimately I think the comfort level decides not only what we do here but what we do elsewhere.”
And in other news...
- Tablehopper’s Marcia Gagliardi, who has chronicled the Bay Area food scene for over 14 years, has launched a podcast called “On The Fly” in which she’ll interview local restaurant industry figures as they fight their way back from the pandemic. The show is “also meant to be a resource for folks in the industry,” Gagliardi tells Eater SF, “providing ideas, assistance, and hopefully some inspiration, too. It’s going to be a long, arduous haul to recovery, and we need to support the hospitality industry in any way we can.” “On The Fly”’s first two episodes are available here.
- California craft breweries say their sales have dropped by 43 percent since the state’s shelter-in-place began [SF Chronicle], and the Bay Area’s artisan cheese companies say that they expect to feel the sudden downturn for the next year. [SF Chronicle]
- On Wednesday, Instagram announced new buttons that will let restaurants with business profiles link straight to gift card sales, fundraisers, and delivery apps. [Eater National]
- Gwyneth Borden, one of the co-founders of the Bay Area Hospitality Coalition, argues that restaurants shouldn’t have their rents deferred during the coronavirus crisis — they should have it abated, completely. [SF Business Times]
- Food delivery apps like SF-based DoorDash, Postmates, and Uber Eats can thrive only if restaurants continue to exist — and in a business update Monday, Chicago-based GrubHub “has seen a historically booming restaurant industry dry precipitously into a relative wasteland.” [Wall Street Journal]
- Here’s a rundown of Bay Area groups that are working to help the local food industry and its workers. [Bay Area Bites]
- Food critic Ryan Sutton writes that the next federal stimulus package must “ensure that restaurants can viably remain closed for now — or safely operate takeout — while letting workers who want to stay home do so without facing financial ruin.” [Eater New York]
- Bay Area personal chefs are still doing their jobs during the shelter-in-place, but these days they’re dropping prepared meals off on clients’ doorsteps or preparing meals in-house while clad in protective gear. [SF Gate]
- San Francisco librarians have traded books for bags of food, as with the libraries closed the city workers have become “disaster service workers” at a local food bank. [SF Examiner]