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Che Fico Doesn’t Want Its Stimulus Loan

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Also: an East Bay grocery store is busted for alleged pandemic-related price gouging, and more news to start your day

Che Fico’s dining room in happier times.
Patricia Chang

While some San Francisco restaurants have shuttered after their paycheck protection program (PPP) loans weren’t approved, the owner of Che Fico says that he’ll likely send the check his restaurant got back to the bank.

Speaking with Business Insider, David Nayfeld, the co-owner and chef of NoPa hot spots Che Fico and Che Fico Alimentari, says that the constantly packed restaurants “were doing incredible business but barely making ends meet” prior to the pandemic, and whatever restrictions are put in place as restaurants reopen will cut revenue even further.

According to Nayfeld, in order to qualify for forgiveness, his restaurants will “need to accrue 1,200 hours a week of labor,” something that likely seemed impossible when he spoke with the BI reporter, but is even harder to imagine now that we know that opening is still a long way off for California restaurants. That’s why, Nayfeld says, “Che Fico will more than likely return our loan because we won’t be able to fully staff up in the time allotted.”

Nayfeld argues instead that restaurants need to get a break on rent, that California should allow restaurants to drop the pay of tipped workers like his to $5 per hour, and that restaurants should raise the prices of their food. Finally, he says, the government should “get ahead of automation,which is happening already (have you seen the robot dishwasher?), and put a tax on any job taken by a machine.” Look out, Creator: Che Fico’s coming for you.

And in other news...

  • The owner of an East Bay grocery store faces a slew of criminal charges after prosecutors say he raised prices on essential items by as much as 300 percent when the pandemic hit. “We take price gouging seriously and are committed to going after those who break the law during the public health emergency,” state Attorney General Xavier Becerra said. [KPIX]
  • Peter Hood, the owner of Mission District brunch and shake spot St. Francis Fountain, says his restaurant is unlikely to reopen ever again, and San Francisco, not COVID-19, is to blame. “We could survive a pandemic,” Hood says, but “why even try in a city that has been actively driving small businesses out of business for over a decade?” [SF Gate]
  • Portland-based, sustainability-branded Bamboo Sushi, which planned to open an Embarcadero location this spring, is allegedly the victim of a “hostile takeover” from notorious private equity firm Bain Capital. [Eater Portland]
  • San Francisco’s Chinatown Community Development Center (CCDC) is hustling to keep local restaurants and vulnerable residents healthy with a program called Feed and Fuel, which buys meals from restaurants and distributes it to folks in the area’s public housing. [SF Chronicle]
  • Workers at a San Rafael Whole Foods and a Mill Valley Safeway have tested positive for COVID-19. [East Bay Times]
  • Steve Sando, the Napa-based founder of the Rancho Gordo specialty bean company, provides a weeklong rundown of how he eats that sure put the Pop-Tart this correspondent is eating right now to shame. [Grub Street]
  • The permanent closure of San Diego-based buffet chain Souplantation has made waves in the Bay Area, as the company’s Sweet Tomatoes buffets, at least seven of which are in the region, will also shutter. [KRON 4]
  • East Oakland bakery and cafe PieTisserie has closed its doors near Lake Merritt, but it will continue pie deliveries sans storefront. [Nosh, h/t Hoodline]
  • A Yuba City bar owner says “I’m treating our governor as King Newsom now,” after he was told by the Alcoholic Beverage Control that his recent reopening was not allowed. “He sent the redcoats to my front door,” says Henry Stueve, owner of Krankin Hank’s Sports Bar and Grill. [KPIX]
  • The 2020 season of the Presidio Picnic and Presidio Twilight, a festival of food trucks and activities, has been canceled. [SF Examiner]
  • Food critics/reporters Soleil Ho and Janelle Bitker have a roundup of eight takeout meals they really enjoyed, but the most inspiring aspect of the item is seeing how hard they tried to get legacy media-worthy photos of food that comes in a box. It’s not easy, folks. [SF Chronicle]

St. Francis Fountain

2801 24th Street, , CA 94110 (415) 826-4200 Visit Website

Che Fico

838 Divisadero Street, , CA 94117 (415) 416-6959 Visit Website

Che Fico Alimentari

834 Divisadero Street, , CA 94117 (415) 416-6980 Visit Website


1605 2nd Street, , CA 94606 Visit Website