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Owner of Acclaimed SF Restaurant Says Takeout Can’t Possibly Pay the Bills

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Also: Gus’s Fried Chicken plots its first Bay Area location, and more news to start your day

Tables in a side nook at Nari
The dining room at Pim Techamuanvivit’s restaurant, Nari, is empty for now.
Patricia Chang

Pim Techamuanvivit, the owner of two lauded San Francisco restaurants, says that with monthly bills in the tens of thousands, local restaurants will quickly use up any cash they might have socked away.

In an Eater Talk Tuesday, San Francisco restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit (Kin Khao, Nari) spoke with John deBary, co-founder and board president of the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) and Eater restaurant editor Hillary Dixler Canavan, for a discussion focused on the difficulties restaurants face during the coronavirus crisis.

Techamuanvivit says, “Just because we’re closed doesn’t mean that some of the expenses can stop. Rent continues; you’re still paying electricity and water. If you’re supporting your employees’ health insurance and you choose to continue... that’s tens of thousands a month,” which means that an ability to continue is “a matter of how much reserve you have.”

She notes, however, that restaurant owners aren’t the only ones that are hurting, saying that as “a lot of the hourly workers especially work not just paycheck to paycheck, but shift to shift,” and asks “if you don’t have an income coming in or you don’t have any tipping coming in at all, how you’re supposed to also find money to put yourself on COBRA?”

Kin Khao has temporarily closed its doors, but Nari remains open for takeout, albeit with a limited menu. That takeout business isn’t even close to generating the income her restaurants did. “The reason we’re still continuing to do takeaway, it’s not because we’re making money,” Techamuanvivit says, “it’s so we can continue to support our suppliers, the farmers we’ve been working with. Because if we stop using all of the products, where are they going to go?”

The entire conversation is available to watch below; otherwise, keep scrolling for more AM Intel.

And in other news...

  • Bica Coffeehouse, a 10-year-old Oakland neighborhood fave, has closed for good. [Bica/Instagram]
  • Local billionaire Elon Musk has a restaurateur brother named Kimbal, the founder of a chain called Next Door (not to be confused with online cranky neighbor bulletin board/Hoodline owner NextDoor) that asked employees to contribute a percentage of their paychecks to a “Family Fund” to be paid out in emergencies. Now Next Door has shut down operations and the Family Fund is reportedly nowhere to be found. [HuffPost]
  • Founded in Mason, Tennessee, about 60 years ago, Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken has grown into a national chain. Its first Bay Area location is reportedly preparing to open in Oakland, inside the old Foot Locker at 1430 Broadway. [Hoodline]
  • California’s trout fishing season will probably be delayed, as residents of the areas near the Sierra rivers and lakes known for the fish say that they’re afraid out-of-towners will being infection to their towns. [San Jose Mercury News]
  • Berkeley’s Double Helping Hands program is deploying food from local restaurants toward efforts to feed homeless folks. [Berkeleyside]
  • Early Bird Tacos, a corporate catering company focused on Austin-inspired breakfast tacos, has been delivering about 200 breakfast tacos to area hospitals every morning. [SF Gate]
  • Speaking of corporate catering, employees of big SF catering companies like Culinary Eye (which served loads of local tech companies) and Bon Appetit (stadium food at spots like Chase Center) are losing hundreds of thousands in anticipated revenue. [SF Chronicle]
  • Vineyards in Napa and Sonoma are turning to Zoom (or the like) for tastings. [New York Times]
  • A drive-thru food distribution center for folks in need opened this morning in South San Francisco. [KRON 4]
  • Members of the Golden State Warriors organization ordered 70 meals from Chase Center tamale vendor Alicia’s Tamales Los Mayas, then delivered the food to hospital workers in San Francisco. [ABC 7]