Straw, a decade-old theme restaurant along San Francisco’s Octavia Boulevard, has ceased operations as a result of the coronavirus crisis — and that’s not the only closure in these pandemic-stricken recent days. 4505 Burgers & BBQ also announced the closure of its Oakland location via social media, saying that the year-old spot would be shuttered “indefinitely.”
Chef Ryan Farr opened the Oakland outpost of his popular Nopa burger and smoked meats destination in June of 2019, a slickly-designed Laurel District restaurant with soft serve, a smoking rig big enough for a whole hog, and a gigantic patio that seemed perfect for the COVID era of outdoor dining.
But that vast patio wasn’t enough to keep things going, Farr tells the SF Chronicle, saying that though 95 percent of the restaurant is and always has been outdoors, the spot wasn’t attracting enough patrons to remain open. “Instead of waiting until we were completely upside down and having to file bankruptcy, we decided to go on a hiatus until next year,” Farr tells the Chron.
In an Instagram post announcing the news, 4505 says that the Oakland location closed “its doors indefinitely” as of Friday, and “our goal is to bring our BBQ back to the East Bay in a new, creative way. There are a few things on the horizon, so stay tuned for more.” Its Divisadero location remains open, 4505’s website confirms.
Just a few blocks west of San Francisco’s 4505 location stood Straw, a Lower Haight restaurant familiar to anyone stuck on the Octavia Boulevard path to the freeway. The carnival-themed spot opened in early 2011 with a menu that included items like a Bearded Lady (pulled pork and blackberry coulis), a working cotton candy machine and Tilt-a-Whirl booth, and a clever gimmick: Guess the amount of your check, and you’d score a free meal.
At the restaurant’s height, owners Ari and Maura Feingold, who also opened Market Street’s Proposition Chicken in 2013, were regulars on novelty-seeking episodes of Food Network shows, drawing tourists with Straw’s gimmicky dining room. In the intervening decade, however, traffic to the restaurant dropped, and J Weekly reports that the Feingolds pivoted to a catering-only business at the end of 2019.
But with events on hold during the coronavirus crisis, even that iteration of Straw is over. Their formerly festive dining room at Octavia and Page streets a thing of the past, the Feingolds have now turned their full attention to Proposition Chicken, which remains open for takeout and delivery service only. There’s a hope, however, that, when the pandemic ends and events resume, Straw might serve up its ringmaster burger (a cheeseburger with glazed doughnuts for a bun) and set its cotton candy a-whir once more.