Restaurant owners stuck in 'doom loop' San Francisco say crime, drug abuse and ... trends now
Restaurants on one of San Francisco's most storied streets are closing at an alarming rate - and owners are saying it's due to the city's spiraling crime.
A slew of restaurateurs this week cited crime, drugs, and waning tourism as the main culprits killing their businesses, all set on Valencia Street.
The thoroughfare, about a mile from the city's embattled Downtown, is considered one of the most sought-after strips of restaurant real estate in The Bay Area.
But for residents of San Francisco’s Mission District, the reality is far different. The area - much like the nearby 'Doom Loop' of Union Square, City Hall, and Tenderloin and Mid Market districts - has been a hive of unsavory, post-pandemic activity.
Several owners with businesses on Valencia experienced declines between 30 percent and 50 percent this summer compared to last, the paper found, after nearly a dozen establishments shuttered in the past few months alone.
Restaurants on one of San Francisco's Valencia Street, one of the most storied in the country, are closing at an alarming rate - and owners said this week it's due to the city's spiraling crime
A slew of restaurateurs this week pegged rising crime - as well as drugs and waning tourism - as the main culprit killing their businesses
'If you took me back before I signed the lease, I would have opened somewhere else,' restaurant owner Rafik Bouzidi told the paper after opening his eatery in April.
'Before COVID there was no way in hell you could find an available space on Valencia Street,' he further told Chronicle.
'Now it seems like another restaurant shuts down every week.'
Recent reports show Bouzidi, the proud - and now somewhat regretful owner of Mediterranean haunt Gola - is not far off.
In the past few months, nearly a dozen prominent places have packed up and called it quits - as local leaders continue to take a somewhat lax approach to crime compared to other cities.
Just last month, the popular Tex-Mex restaurant West of Pecos shut its doors after more than a decade after reporting a drop in business post-pandemic.
The month before, one of the city's closest simulations of a New York-style slice in Arinell Pizza also closed its doors for good, after enjoying more than 33 years on Valencia.
At the time, owner Ron Demirdijian cited staffing issues as the main reason for the spot's sudden closure, but months before told Mission Local he may be forced to close because business had been slumping.
A veteran familiar with the street as it was at its height - and how it is now - he told the local paper how he had been operating at a loss since the lockdowns of the pandemic.
In the past few months, nearly a dozen prominent places have packed up and called it quits - as local leaders continue to take a somewhat lax approach to crime
Other headlines include the phrases 'garbage city, 'ruined city' and 'fallen city', as crippling drug issues and widespread homeless problems continue to cause problems for San Francisco
Homeless people are seen in Mission District of San Francisco over the summer, when several of the restaurants closed. Tourism is down in the district, and restaurateurs are blaming the downturn on crime and the current state of the streets
Homelessness has been an issue in the city since the pandemic, with encampments now a common sight across several neighborhoods
The lunch hour at Farina Pizza & Cucina Italiana as pedestrians on Valencia Street in San Francisco. Owners say foot-traffic is down this year as crime in the surrounding district persists
Tge nearby 'Doom Loop' of Union Square, City Hall, and Tenderloin and Mid Market districts about a mile away has also been a hive of unsavory, post-pandemic activity
Like so-called 'retail apocalypse' that's affecting the city's Downtown, business owners blamed the closures on a lack of tourism, as well as rises in drug abuse and crime
The street is located in San Francisco’s embattled Mission District, one of many neighborhoods where crime remains stubbornly high after reaching records during the pandemic
'It’s really disheartening,' Demirdijian said at the time, citing lesser foot traffic in the district especially late at night.
'The model for the business for being successful was for people to get really drunk… hop bar to bar and eat Arinell Pizza,' he added, as the street and surrounding district today contends with the city's well-known - and stubbornly persistent - problems.
Without both eateries - and others like Hawker Fare, Stonemill Matcha, Pi Bar, Third Culture Bakery, and splashy seafood spot Ancora - the stretch of street again lost a bit of its long-held character, at a time where several said it needs it most.
David White, the owner of another pizza restaurant in Yellow Moto Pizzeria, blamed the shutdowns - eerily similar to the so-called 'retail apocalypse' that's affecting the city's Downtown - on a lack of tourism, as well as rises in drug abuse and crime.
Speaking to The Chronicle, he first conceded that 'the downturn has many causes', before revealing he had to enlist his own hired security as rates of robbery, rape, and assault remain on the rise in