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Japantown Landlord Refuses to Negotiate With Tenants, Eviction Notices Expected to Follow

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Also: Worries over Uberification of home cook pop-ups, and more news you need to know today

Two landlords dominate the Japantown area, leaving a multitude of restaurants worried that if they can’t come up with rent, they might be evicted as of September 14.
SFjapantown.org

Welcome to p.m. Intel, your daily roundup of Bay Area food and restaurant news from publications near and far. Tips are always welcome, drop them here.

  • San Francisco’s commercial eviction moratorium ends on September 14, and that has a lot of restaurants in Japantown worried about their futures, KQED reports. Only two landlords own the properties in the Japan Center mall, and one of those — Kinokuniya Bookstores of America — has refused to respond to any of its tenants’ attempts to renegotiate rent, even though their businesses have been completely shut down for much of the pandemic. Diane Matsuda, a lawyer for 40 of the tenants, says that in addition to rent worries, Davis Property Management, which took over day-to-day management of the Kinokuniya’s properties in 2018, has increased common-area maintenance charges by 100 percent. “Rent is contracted and due by the tenants,” property manager Kirsten Fletcher tells KQED in response, but Matsuda says that that insistence means “you’re really talking about us losing literally a whole ethnic community that has been here since the start of the 19th century.”
  • After Alameda County health inspectors shut down chef Mona Leena Michael’s flatbread hustle and headline-making pop-up Broke Ass Cooks, SF Chronicle food critic Soleil Ho is pleading “please don’t call the cops on pop-ups.” Officials tell Ho that they’ve been getting “numerous complaints about observed illegal food operations,” as more and more jobless restaurant workers launch businesses to stay solvent during the pandemic. Of course, these operations wouldn’t be illegal if Bay Area counties opted in to California Retail Food Code AB-626, which in 2018 allowed the sales of home-cooked food. But, look out: Venture capitalists are also big into allowing home cooks to launch businesses, KQED reports, throwing millions at startups that seek to Uber-fy the independent chef game. “We’re worried that these gig economy tech companies are going to really come to dominate the home-made food sector,” local food advocate Christina Oatfield says, and that chefs should look at how ride hail companies moved to sign up, then cut wages for drivers as a cautionary tale for pandemic hustles.
  • The Nob Hill Gazette frets over the “Future of Fine Dining,” writing “At a time when so many people have lost their lives, fallen ill or been laid off, it may seem crass to mourn the demise of some of the highest echelons of dining. Yet there are few better bellwethers of normalcy than the state of fine dining.” That theory seems borne out by this SF Chronicle item from the weekend, which reports that Napa’s “fine dining restaurants are seeing higher demand than ever,” especially since in Napa, you can eat indoors.
  • Berkeley is the latest Bay Area city to mull fines for mask scofflaws. Its city council is considering an ordinance that would allow its health officer to pass administrative citations out to businesses or individuals who don’t follow current health orders, Berkeleyside reports. “There are people who don’t want to wear masks,” Councilmember Kate Harrison says, “and those people should be given citations.” They’ll discuss the proposal at their next council meeting, on September 15.
  • Mission cocktail bar Trick Dog will launch a burgers-and-fries offering they’re calling “Quik Dog” on September 17. In a press release, they say the takeout-only restaurant-inside-a-bar will serve “burgers, hot dogs, salads + fries, sodas for kids and sodas for adults” from 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays. There’s also a faux-meat Beyond burger and “QuikNuggets,” which doesn’t seem like a plea for a lawsuit from an extremely litigious fast food chain at all.
  • You’ll be shocked to hear that as restaurants run out of Paycheck Protection Program loan money, they’re worried about shutting down for good. [SF Chronicle]
  • Menlo Park chef Charlie Parker most recently toiled at Mayfield Bakery, which shut down in July. Now he’s launched a new weekly food delivery service, “a way to stay in touch with friends and help them out,” he says. [Palo Alto Online]

Trick Dog

3010 20th Street, , CA 94110 (415) 471-2999 Visit Website

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