Two more San Francisco food destinations announced their closures in recent days: Douglas, a corner shop and cafe in Noe Valley, and the Creamery, a 12-year-old SoMa coffee shop. Both shutdown decisions were rooted in real estate, the spots’ owners said with one spot losing its lease and the other choosing not to renew.
According to an Instagram post from Sanchez Street shop and restaurant Douglas, it will close at the end of August after failed negotiations with its landlord. The corner store and cafe came into its own during the pandemic, when neighborhood shops became more essential than ever. To serve its patrons, Douglas expanded its pantry staples, launched online ordering, set up a neighborhood pickup for restaurant meals, and kept the natural wine flowing, even in the darkest days of panic buying.
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Dear Neighbors, It is with a heavy heart that I share some news with you: Douglas will be closing at these premises at the end of August. After extensive negotiations, we’ve been unable to find a sustainable arrangement with our landlord that would allow us to weather current conditions and make investments for the longer term. Fortunately this is not the end of the story, but it does make for some big changes ahead. Words cannot do justice to the sense of community I’ve felt in the neighborhood. Since day one, you’ve welcomed our shop and our team with open arms. It’s a true pleasure to serve you and your families, to share in the joy of new additions (two-legged, four-legged, and 2x4), and to adapt together in recent months. When I think of community, that also means our talented team and incredible suppliers. Your purchases make it possible to provide living wages for our team, and your generosity has made a material difference in what they have been able to earn during this crisis. I look around at our shelves, and I see the faces of our farmers, bakers, winemakers, and chefs who devote themselves to their craft. These are the people who make the shop what it is - and make our city great. They are hustling like never before, and we (collectively) should never forget it. To this end, your local purchases really do matter. By supporting Douglas, you’ve put well over a million dollars directly into the hands of the small, independent producers that we devote over 90% of our purchasing power to. You’ve ordered over 5,000 restaurant meals since the end of March, helping keep kitchen teams employed. And we don’t want to stop bringing the most deliciousness into your homes that we can. Here’s the good part - 1. we’re actively searching for a new long-term location for Douglas (hopefully not far away) and 2. in the interim we’re doubling down on the restaurant meal program @maggiefspicer and I spearheaded. It has its own name - BENNE - and will be opening shortly at neighborhood pickup locations in Noe Valley and beyond. Follow us at @eatbenne for more updates on that. ...(continued in comments below)
But sadly, it sounds like the landlord couldn’t or wouldn’t work with the shop on rent, prompting its closure after a little more that two years in business. In their farewell posy, owners Michael Molesky and Maggie Spicer thanked the neighborhood, as well as their suppliers, who include local farmers, chefs, bakers, and winemakers. The shop says that since opening, it’s directed a million dollars toward small producers, and during pandemic, helped serve 5,000 meals from local restaurants.
“It’s so moving,” says Molesky. “I have shed more than my share of tears over these past few months. It’s been everything from heartwarming feedback from the neighbors to adapting in every possible way.”
But Molesky promises this isn’t the end of the story. He’s actively looking for a new space for Douglas, still within the cozy confines of Noe Valley. In the meantime, he and Spicer are continuing their restaurant meal program, which is spinning out and becoming a separate entity. Now called Benne, it’s dedicated to setting up neighborhood pickup spots for restaurant meals. Participating restaurants already include Kin Khao and Rintaro, and as of last week, State Bird Provisions. Specific pickup locations are soon to be announced in Noe Valley, the Mission, and Russian Hill, so stay tuned.
Just across from Caltrain 4th and King in SoMa, the Creamery coffee shop is also closing permanently after 12 years, SFGate reported on Friday. Opened in 2008, and a survivor of the recession, the coffee shop often served as a tech startup hangout, pouring cold brew and rolling crepes for hungry entrepreneurs. Our friend and Vox colleague Casey Newton from the Verge poured one out for the coffee shop via Twitter, as did various other other tech personalities.
RIP to the Creamery, one of the tech world’s favorite gathering places during the early 2010s tech boom. I’ll miss it. https://t.co/iMqviAywXG— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) August 14, 2020
The Creamery opened during an influx to the neighborhood, serving under-caffeinated commuters running to trains, and pumping up Giants fans when they won the World Series in 2014. Owner Ivor Bradley told SFGate that his lease was up, and given the pandemic, he decided not to renew. SoMa is a tough neighborhood for restaurants these days, with many boarded up windows, although others are taking a swing at outdoor dining. (Eater SF recently noted that after a brief reopening, for example, Marlowe, is dark once again.) But despite the odds, as of Friday night, some of those ballpark-adjacent patios were pulling in crowds.
From his shop in Noe, looking at it from a tech and food perspective, Molesky offers a parting shot. “I’m a San Francisco native, with friends in different worlds,” says Molesky, who came from big tech before opening a small food business. “So when people ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ It is so important to spend local. If you want your favorite restaurants to be here, show up and spend money now. Businesses don’t have the luxury of time. If you regularly ate out, if you still want restaurants around, even if you’re spending half as much as you used to, those dollars will go so far. Help local businesses weather the storm.”