San Francisco restaurant Dosa says they’ve been planning to move to a ghost kitchen model since long before the coronavirus crisis hit.
Anjan and Emily Mitra, the co-owners of highly regarded South Indian restaurant Dosa, have never been quiet about the challenges of doing business in San Francisco. The couple is now planning to make Dosa’s operations more virtual, Palo Alto Online reports, with a move away from its eat-in, brick-and-mortar experience and toward ghost kitchen food prep.
Last fall, the Mitras closed Dosa’s 15-year-old Mission District location, saying then that skyrocketing rents and increases to San Francisco’s minimum wage mean that neighborhood restaurants must struggle to survive. At that time, they said that they’d focus on the business at its high-ceilinged, upscale Fillmore Street spot, its Oakland fast casual operation, and a line of retail offerings available at stockists like Whole Foods.
Emily Mitra now tells Palo Alto Online that they’re now planning 20 delivery-only locations across the Bay Area, part of a partnership with Virtual Kitchen Co., a company launched by a pair of former Uber execs that is backed by (as of its November launch) $17 million of venture capital from several boldfaced Silicon Valley names.
In the new model, Mitra says, Dosa’s food will be prepared by its staffers in a South San Francisco commissary kitchen. Those meals will be picked up by Virtual Kitchen Co. workers, who will transport it to satellite kitchens, reheat it, and pass it off to delivery drivers from companies like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Postmates, and GrubHub.
“We plan to keep our restaurants for sure,” Mitra says (Dosa’s Fillmore location is fully closed for the pandemic, Palo Alto Online notes) “but we really have to be focused on the things that keep the Dosa brand alive.”
And in other news...
- Completely closed since last month, Bay Area-based candy company See’s is slowly returning to business, with some stores reopening for socially-distant sales. [San Jose Mercury News]
- 150 Chinese restaurants are typically open for business in San Francisco’s Chinatown, but the crisis has cut that number to around 40. [KPIX]
- The 70-year-old owner of Berkeley deli Cheese n’ Stuff is ready to fight for his business, and will “take out a home equity loan if I have to,” he says. [SF Gate]
- Business at Berkeley Organic Market and Deli was so slow that its owner was ready to put it on the market — but the pandemic changed all that. [Berkeleyside]
- SF Mayor London Breed announced Tuesday that local restaurants and other small businesses can now defer their business registration and uniform licensing fees until September 30. [SF Business Times]
- A patron of Outer Richmond bakery Butter Love spent over $600 on pastries and pies Tuesday, an effort to help support the business and to feed SFFD workers. [SF Chronicle]
- Animal rights group the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reportedly sent a letter to UC Berkeley Tuesday, asking that the school suspend a banner that reads “It’s High Time We Went Vegan” from its 307-foot-tall, 61-bell Sather Tower. [East Bay Express]
- National catering company Bon Appetit has laid off 1,769 employees across the Bay Area. 1,383 of those workers worked at Oracle Park for SF Giants games, 142 at the University of San Francisco, and 124 at the Commissary in the Presidio. [SF Business Times]