SoMa’s Virgin Hotel is suing its landlord, saying that he has broken their 20-year contact.
Virgin Hotel opened to great fanfare in February of 2019, located just steps from Yerba Buena Gardens and Moscone Center. A huge part of the luxury hotel’s draw was its selection of swanky bars and restaurants, all of which temporarily shuttered (along with its 192 guest rooms) when the pandemic hit. On Wednesday afternoon, Virgin announced that their entire operation has been booted from its Fourth Street skyscraper, and now they’re suing the structure’s owner over the quashed deal.
The hotel’s headlining venue is Commons Club, a restaurant led by led by chef Adrian Garcia (Quince, Benu). There’s also a rooftop bar called Everdene and a coffee shop called Funny Library. Workers at those spots tell Eater SF that on Wednesday, they received a letter from Virgin saying that Virgin had been looking forward to reopening its rooms, bars, and restaurants, but “we were surprised to be informed by the property’s owner, Jay Singh, of his intention to prematurely and unlawfully terminate our 20-year hotel management agreement less than a year after fully opening this award-winning property.” (You can read the full letter here.)
The letter’s verbiage is repeated in a press release from Virgin on the lawsuit, which they say was filed in San Francisco Superior Court. According to Virgin, Singh (who also owns Bay Area-based Paradigm Hotels Group) “is attempting to seize upon the disruption created within the hotel industry by the current COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to prematurely and wrongfully terminate the HMA upon manufactured and false grounds.”
In a statement to the SF Business Times, William A. Brewer III, the lead counsel for Paradigm, says that “Paradigm believes the hotel suffered from gross mismanagement and Virgin Hotels’ failure to deliver upon the promise of a national brand” and that “Paradigm believes Virgin Hotels is hiding behind the Covid-19 crisis – using the pandemic as a smokescreen to avoid taking responsibility for failures that began well over a year ago.”
And in other news...
- The Golden Gate Restaurant Association and the Bay Area Hospitality Coalition have created a joint survey to be used by San Francisco’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force. If you’re a restaurateur, chef, or owner/operator of a restaurant, they’re asking that you fill it out to help them plan for reopening and recovery. You don’t have to be a member of either group to participate, and your responses can be anonymous. Here’s the survey.
- Pacifica police say that Tripp’s Distillery can’t sell its hand sanitizer from its storefront, but it sounds like there’s more to this tale. [ABC 7]
- Ryan Chinchilla, once a chef at Divis cocktail bar Horsefeather, is preparing to open a sandwich shop called Lucinda’s Deli in Alamo Square. [Hoodline]
- Fumé, the Napa restaurant that reopened its dining room in defiance of state and local health orders, was threatened with a restraining order [KTVU] and has backtracked to a takeout model. [NBC Bay Area]
- Castro see-and-be seen restaurant Harvey’s says that its sales are down nearly 90 percent. [KPIX]
- Food from Bay Area live animal markets has a great cultural importance for some local groups, but now even organizations like the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association say that if public health is at stake, the markets should shutter. [ABC 7]
- San Francisco-based Uber Eats has launched a sharing feature that allows you to send food to a pal. [TechCrunch]
- The handball court at South San Francisco’s popular Basque Cultural Center remains dark, but its banquet facilities reopen for takeout today. [NBC Bay Area]
- Also reopening today: CUESA’s Mission Community Market. The farmers market at 22nd and Bartlett Streets will only operate from 3-7 p.m., with strict safety measures and water for hand-washing courtesy of the Makeout Room.
- And a new spot: Hummus Bodega, which sells house-pade pita and fresh, daily-made hummus, just opened its doors in the Richmond District. [SF Chronicle]