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Power Outage Caused by Underground Fire Continues to Impact Restaurants and Businesses in the Financial District

Plus, a celebrated North Bay farm closes and more Bay Area food intel

San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid 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.

Parts of the Financial District, North Beach, and Pier 29 continue to be affected by a power outage that has troubled the neighborhood since Wednesday, April 26. A fire in an underground electrical vault at 640 Clay Street was reported at 8:42 p.m. Wednesday, with flames seen shooting out of a nearby manhole, according to ABC7. This fire led to a power outage that immediately impacted 9,500 customers from the Financial District and North Beach to Union Square and Nob Hill. PG&E was able to mostly restore electricity by the following day, but about 500 customers still remain affected according to a PG&E outage map Friday morning.

The estimated time of power restoration for the remaining customers looks to be delayed until the weekend, with a current promised restoration time of 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 29. The outage has affected many of the restaurants and bars centered around Jackson and Washington Streets, including the new Heartwood bar on Commercial Street and Barbarossa Lounge on Montgomery Street, forcing those businesses to close their doors Thursday night. The owner of Barbarossa told ABC7 that with the RSA convention and the Warriors game, he was expecting plenty of customers this week — but coupled with the loss of perishable goods, he estimates he’s losing more than $50,000 due to the power outage.

San Francisco reservations have dropped by as much as 41 percent

It seems reservations in San Francisco are dropping by huge margins, if these new figures from reservation platform OpenTable are any indicator: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in a comparison of reservations made in 2019 and 2022, reservations were down last year by 41 percent. In comparison to other Bay Area regions, San Francisco demonstrates the largest decline in customers; in other areas such as San Jose, Berkeley, and Oakland, reservations have only lowered by 15 percent.

La Cocina’s food hall is struggling

La Cocina’s incubator food program is a much-loved part of the fabric that makes up San Francisco’s restaurant scene, harboring the growth of many women- and immigrant-led food businesses in its 18 years. When the nonprofit announced in 2018 that it would open a food hall, it seemed like a slam dunk — but a recent visit from the San Francisco Standard reveals a number of issues are leading to lessened foot traffic, including the pandemic, the fentanyl crisis in the Tenderloin, and the recession.

North Bay farm known for growing Chinese heritage vegetables is shutting down

Shao Shan Farm, led by Scott Chang-Fleeman, first launched in 2019 with a mission to grow Chinese heritage vegetables in the town of Bolinas. Chang-Fleeman’s vegetables grew to become part of the dishes of popular restaurants such as Mister Jiu’s, Moongate Lounge, and Queens Superette, and the farm was even landed on an episode of Hulu’s Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi. On Monday, April 24, however, he shared that Shao Shan Farm will be going on “indefinite hiatus,” writing that “the reality is this farm was never meant to last forever.”