La Cocina, the incubator for businesses led by women, immigrants, and people of color, will close its public-facing food hall Municipal Marketplace on Hyde Street and Golden Gate Avenue on September 1, the Chronicle reports. The much-anticipated food hall opened in April 2021, and its closure comes about one-and-a-half years in advance of the scheduled end of its run in 2025 when an affordable housing development is expected to break ground on the site.
The nonprofit will keep the woman-led La Paloma bar open after September 1, in addition to a small lunchtime pop-up, though the Chronicle did not report who will operate that business. The nonprofit also maintains an enormous production space on Folsom Street in the Mission for its community to make foodstuffs such as pupusas, bahn mi, and curries.
As for the reason behind the food hall’s early demise, La Cocina executive director Leticia Landa told the paper the organization has been spending $209,000 every month while bringing in about $24,000, and making up the difference from grants and support from the city. With fewer in-person workers in the Tenderloin, the lunchtime crowd never brought in the money Landa hoped the food hall would. The ongoing difficulties of the area, including extreme housing insecurity and subsequent homelessness, made harsh conditions for nonprofit workers. “We just never got there,” Landa told the Chronicle. “It’s hard and sad, but it’s very real.”
Tenderloin and Civic Center areas remain a lightning rod for takes on how San Francisco is doing, a bill of health of sorts for the entire city. By that measure, La Cocina’s closing is an undeniable blow in the face of a handful of exciting restaurant openings in the area. Outta Sight Pizza debuted around the corner on Larkin Street in fall 2022 and is one of San Francisco’s hottest pizza destinations, even taking over the kitchen at the Great American Music Hall. The soon-to-open Azalina’s at 499 Ellis Street comes from Malaysian chef Azalina Eusope and is three years in the making. Plus, SPRO Coffee is amping the neighborhood’s already robust coffee scene by opening on Golden Gate Avenue and Polk Street.