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Pandemic Recovery Will Take San Francisco Restaurant Longer Than the Next Year

Plus restaurant customers continue to behave badly, and more Bay Area food news

Salesforce Tower Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

This year has possibly been the most optimistic one for restaurants and bars since the start of the pandemic, with a flood of new restaurant openings, looser restrictions on indoor dining, and more people venturing outdoors to grab a bite or drink. Still, experts tell SFGATE a full recovery from the pandemic isn’t something that should be expected in the next year, despite promising signs.

Laurie Thomas with the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, San Francisco’s restaurant lobbying organization, tied the industry’s recovery to two major issues. Thomas told SFGATE the lack of international travelers to San Francisco and the region’s remote work setup, which doesn’t incentivize employees to patronize local restaurants or businesses, are keeping the industry from making a full return to pre pandemic levels. For downtown restaurants, the relative lack of office workers continues to affect those in the business district, while neighborhood restaurants are doing better, Thomas says. Thomas says she hopes more events and conferences come to town to keep restaurants on track.

Restaurant customers continue to behave badly

A fraught interaction between a customer and employee at Umai Savory Hot Dogs at Stonestown mall was covered in detail by the San Francisco Chronicle. An argument over an overcharge of 25 cents led to a customer throwing her drink at the employee, despite receiving a refund on the difference and another item. The employee has not returned to the restaurant since; the Chronicle points out the experience underscores the complicated power dynamics between understaffed restaurants and customers. Owner Dat Thieu told the Chronicle, “.. the compassion level is definitely not there anymore.”

Bird flu is causing a duck shortage for this SF restaurant

KQED covered the havoc bird flu is wreaking on restaurants that depend on the poultry item; Hing Lung Meat Company in San Francisco, which is known for its roast duck, was forced to temporarily close after the bird flu took out a large portion of the duck population at the restaurant’s Pennsylvania supplier. Hing Lung relies on ducks for 50 percent of its sales, and the restaurant is currently looking for another source for ducks, but will need a steady supply to avoid more temporary closures. Meanwhile, KQED reports this year’s strain of bird flu has a “near-100 percent mortality rate” and has come as far westward as Colorado, but hasn’t yet affected farms in California.

Relive your emo years with an emo brunch

If you’re all about a themed brunch and you’ve been dying to bust out those late 1990s Hot Topic t-shirts, here’s your chance: a company “with a mission of Inspiring Experiences” — is bringing its touring “Emo Brunch” to the Midway this weekend. Plunk down $50 for a 90-minute brunch session during which you can dine on “The Fall Out Fried Chicken & Waffles, Jimmy Eat Waffles, I’m Not Ok Braised Short Beef Ribs, and the Tofu Back Sunday” and alcoholic “Drinks 182,” according to a press release. After this Memorial Weekend’s launch, the emo brunch will go dark before returning July 16 and July 30 for a return tour. More details here.