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After 300 Percent Rent Increase, West Marin’s 46-Year-Old Station House Cafe Closes for Good

Also: A live feed of a Trader Joe’s line, and more news to start your day

West Marin’s Station House Cafe has been hustling to serve takeout diners during the pandemic, but a rent uptick from $8372 per month to $28,000 per month means it must shutter for good.
Station House Cafe/Instagram

The owners of Pt. Reyes bar and restaurant Station House Cafe will close this month, after they say their landlord increased their rent from from $8372 per month to $28,000.

West Marin’s Station House Cafe opened in 1974 and quickly became a local favorite, known for its local oysters, live music, and comfortable atmosphere. Like so many other restaurants, it moved to a takeout menu when the pandemic hit, and successfully applied for a paycheck protection program (PPP) loan that allowed them “to bring back much of our workforce,” its owners said via Facebook. But despite the loan and a still-bustling business, the restaurant will close on May 31, they say, after its landlord significantly increased the rent.

“Our lease was due to renew on June 1,” they write via Facebook. “The proposal received by our landlord would have raised our rent more than 300% from $8372 per month to $28,000 per month, under the current lease, with no option to renew after one year. The landlord also offered an alternative lease, with new, restrictive and onerous conditions, that would extend the term to four years at $21,000 per month.”

Even without the pandemic, Station House’s owners say, they couldn’t have remained in business with that increase, and “in our current economic crisis, it is unfathomable.” They say that they’re open to finding another location and reopening, but given the current state of the industry, even that might be beyond their means.

Some more closings:

Ristorante Franchino, a 32-year-old family-owned North Beach Italian spot, announced via Instagram this weekend that they will not reopen when the shelter-in-place lifts. The spot’s lease is up on June 1, and it “couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord on an extension,” so shuttering seemed like the only option. [SF Chronicle]

The Saddle Rack, a Fremont country music bar that been open since the mid-1970s, won’t reopen when bars are allowed to resume service. “We have been unable to come up with a viable solution to reopen the Saddle Rack while ensuring the safety of our family,” its owners say, therefore it’s closing for good. [East Bay Times]

Santa Rosa’s the Whole Pie survived a Thanksgiving PG&E shutdown that endangered hundreds of orders, but the crisis has been too much for the business, owner Trish Davis says, and it won’t reopen when the shelter-in-place lifts. [ABC 7]

And in other news...

  • Andrew Welch, the owner of ASA Restaurant in Los Gatos, says that the upscale establishment is considering “attractive disposable plates and utensils, to avoid exposing our dishwashing staff” to the coronavirus when its dining room eventually reopens. [East Bay Times]
  • Richmond District icon Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant says that its revenue breakdown has shifted significantly during the shutdown, as “we normally sell around 60-65% food and the rest is basically margaritas. Now we’re doing around 55% food and 45% takeout bottles and margaritas,” owner Julio Bermejo says. [SF Gate]
  • Prolific Napa grape grower Andy Beckstoffer says that the wine industry was already in trouble before the pandemic, and with the new crisis, he might stand to lose much of his $500 million fortune. [New York Times]
  • There’s a live stream of the line at the Rockridge Trader Joe’s. [Berkeleyside]
  • Mel’s is offering carhop service for the first time in decades at its locations on Geary Boulevard and Lombard Street. [SF Gate]
  • Advocates for the restaurant industry say that San Francisco should speed up its food truck permitting process to allow restaurants to pivot to another way to serve diners. [SF Chronicle]