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This Cozy San Francisco Parklet Is Shutting Down Over ‘Constant’ Break-Ins

Owner Danielle Kuzinich is ready to let go of her parklet at San Francisco Wine Society. “It’s just a constant battle,” she says

Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

The parklet at San Francisco Wine Society is a local favorite. Filled with comfortable couches, two cozy fireplaces, and gleaming chandeliers, it became the city’s living room during the pandemic. In this space, the wine bar’s customers could gather safely together, outdoors, but still feel like they were at home.

Still, even as it has won over plenty of locals, it has become a major pain point to operate. As owner Danielle Kuzinich has repeatedly experienced, the parklet has also become a target, undergoing numerous break-ins and vandalism during its two years of existence. The most devastating was the destruction that took place last year on December 31, when a vandal broke in and tore out the fireplaces, carpeting, and Christmas decorations, forcing Kuzinich to rebuild. Kuzinich says that at least eight break-ins have occurred and vandals have damaged the parklet more than 20 times with attempts to gain access to the space since 2021. And, following another break-in this past weekend — as first reported by the San Francisco Standard, tearing apart the Christmas decorations and defecating on the installed carpeting — Kuzinich has decided the parklet has to go. Two further attempts to break in this week only affirm Kuzinich’s decision to shut down the parklet on Friday, December 23. “It’s just heartbreaking, I will definitely miss it,” she says. “But I won’t miss turning the corner to work every day and wondering if it’s okay.”

Kuzinich and her customers have grown attached to the outdoor space; with the first iteration of the parklet, Kuzinich lovingly decorated and sourced the furniture for it, spending $32,000 in the process. But now, with mounting repairs, she estimates her parklet costs have reached roughly $80,000 in the course of two years. With the shutdown of the space, San Francisco Wine Society loses 22 seats, not an easy thing to part with as a bar owner who’s counting on that area as revenue.

Kuzinich has upgraded the security measures as much as she can, including installing large pieces of plywood that hook into the top of the parklet and slide into a track on the ground, secured by 24 Master locks. Each day and night, the staff sets up and breaks down the parklet, bringing the parklet furniture into the wine bar’s main space at closing, taking up an hour of time to do so. “It is as sturdy as I could possibly make it be,” Kuzinich says. “I don’t know what else we could even attempt to do.”

Besides the monetary investment, though, Kuzinich just enjoyed the space and the reaction of passersby who happen upon the parklet. “It was nice having outdoor seating and seeing the expression on people’s faces when they saw it,” Kuzinich says. “It’s just been a really incredible gathering space and it’s something that’s just so beautiful and it brings a lot of joy to people.”

Already, Kuzinich has started to tell customers about the upcoming closure. The regulars have seen the struggles with keeping up the parklet after break-ins, a constant discussion topic on visits. She emailed perhaps one of her most oft-mentioned visitors to the parklet — the group of 75- to 90-year-olds who gather for a glass weekly on Tuesdays who have been dubbed the “Golden Girls” — to let them know, Kuzinich says.

“It’s a shame, everyone is really sad to see it go,” Kuzinich says. “But everyone fully understands why it’s going.”

San Francisco Wine Society (408 Merchant Street) is shutting down its parklet as of December 23.

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