Two years after it escaped demolition, the Mission’s Old Jerusalem Restaurant falls victim to fire
Official fireworks display were canceled in the Bay Area this past weekend, in an effort to quash gatherings that might spread the new coronavirus (COVID-19). That didn’t stop residents across the region from their own, illicit displays — homegrown fireworks shows that ignited over 150 fires, SFist reports. One of those blazes hit popular Mission District restaurant Old Jerusalem, Mission Local reports, prompting the Middle Eastern standby’s temporary closure.
The San Francisco Fire Department rushed from scene to scene this weekend, the SF Chronicle reports, barely putting one set of flames out before another ignited. “If you will, please consider not using fireworks,” SFFD spokesperson Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter told the paper from the scene of one blaze. “It’s burning down the city. It’s not nice. Let’s be nice, let’s be San Franciscans. Let’s stop this. Consider doing something else.”
Baxter tells ABC 7 that on Friday afternoon, “multiple bystanders ... observed and heard fireworks just moments before they observed smoke and flames on the roof” of Old Jerusalem, a 15-year-old Mission District restaurant known for its Middle Eastern and Mediterranean offerings that two years ago was displaced by a redevelopment project at its previous location. According to the SFFD the two-alarm fire at the restaurant spread to a neighboring building, displacing 15 people.
Baxter says that no one was injured in the fire, and all the workers at the restaurant — which has been open for takeout and delivery since the pandemic began — escaped safely. Speaking with Mission Local, Old Jerusalem co-owner Hajem Almujdad says that in addition to damage caused by the smoke and flames, the spot was also hit with “a lot of water from the firefighters’ hose,” which means “we are going to be closed for a while.”
And in other news...
- Local food critic Soleil Ho joins the chorus of critics who use their column inches to say that they won’t be dining out until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine. “The American investment in individual liberty falls short horrifically in this moment when your liberty may mean someone else’s death,” she writes of restaurant workers placed at risk by sit-down dining. “The novel coronavirus has revealed in stark terms who our society views as expendable—the Black and brown working class especially. Those same people who make up a significant segment of the culinary labor force.” [SF Chronicle]
- Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin will soon be home to a second location of Rocky’s Market, a gourmet grocery shop that also offers grab-and-go, takeout, and sit-down outdoor dining. The Kitchen at Rocky’s Market opens July 10 in the historic 9th Avenue Terminal Building for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. [San Jose Mercury News]
- Most of the Bay Area’s undocumented restaurant workers haven’t had any financial support during the coronavirus crisis, as unemployment and other support systems aren’t available to them. Many are “working minimal hours and cannot cover basic expenses with their wages,” if they’re able to find work at all. [SF Chronicle]
- Mission District brunch and shake spot the St. Francis Fountain has been shuttered since the coronavirus crisis began, as owner Peter Hood says the 102-year-old restaurant isn’t “suited for take out.” Now, he says, the spot “will reopen in about two weeks,” but warns that “there is no promise for sticking around, but we have a window of opportunity to get our employees some work and money, at least for a while.” [ABC 7]
- Peri’s Bar, a nearly 100-year-old dive in the Marin County burg of Fairfax, needs to raise $100,000 to remain in business. [Marin Independent Journal]
- Local restaurant owners aren’t sure what to do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, and state and local regulations don’t give them a clear path forward. [SF Chronicle]