Why SF Restaurants Are Suffocating

By Azhar Hashem : thebolditalic – excerpt

What I witnessed during my two years in the industry

One Saturday in December of last year, six months before we closed our beloved restaurant, Tawla, we said goodbye to our lead line cook — one of the last three people left from our original 25-person team when we opened in the Mission two years prior….

I quickly learned that no matter the amount of knowledge or preparation, you can’t fight the desperate realities of San Francisco’s restaurant market today.

This has become almost a cliche story in San Francisco’s food industry. When I set out to open a restaurant in the city in 2016, I intended to successfully employ what I had learned from an MBA and more than a decade of launching and managing successful businesses for Google and other tech companies. But I quickly learned that no matter the amount of knowledge or preparation, you can’t fight the desperate realities of San Francisco’s restaurant market today…(more)

As many of us have discovered who were former fans, the quality of food and service has gone down hill. This is a well-documented explanation of what is wrong with the restaurant industry in San Francisco. Some choice points made by the author that we have been observing for some time:

  • Astronomical turnover pushes labor costs even higher and Turnovers are expensive. Workers have little incentive to work and quality of work is down due to the stress on the workers being priced out of the city…
  • What was once a celebrated culinary city boasting creativity and innovation is no longer so creative or innovative. The constant turnover makes it too hard to train new staff so everyone has the same menu…
  • When it comes down to it, diners today don’t care. Really. The discerning diners have left the city alone with the good cooks. The have been replaced by new fast-paced customer with no..
  • Today’s San Francisco pretends to be a liberal city, but when it comes to having a real impact on people who work in small businesses, the majority are not willing to put their money where their mouth is. Today’s SF is in love with the idea of “local,” “small business” and “economic diversity.” But few are doing the work to support those ideas…

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, employing more than half of our workforce, then what impact do these challenges have on the labor economy and this city that we love, economically and culturally, as we move into the future?

I was asked recently, “If you could do it all over again, would you?” Given the circumstances, where the core principles behind what I had hoped to accomplish are in question, I don’t know if this would have been an endeavor I could comfortably and confidently pursue again — at least in San Francisco…. (more)

I recently heard from a friend who is a fan of New York and other sophisticated “world-class” cities that San Francisco claims to emulate. She is disappointed with the loss of the culture and the diversity she expected more of, not less, as San Francisco rushes into a new era of international fame and fortune. Some of us see the writing on the wall before others, but we are all condemned to deal with the future that is barrelling down on us.

Please share this article at the source with your discerning friends and any politicians you know who may care enough to turn this food desert around. Otherwise, book some time in many of the new restaurants springing up in the suburbs that the cooks are moving into. Better do it fast, as the Governor plans to sue the communities fighting gentrifying density. You may soon be forced to leave the state for a tasty meal if Senator Wiener’s SB 50 becomes law.

I am going to say that the lack of imagination and experimentation is also a product of a society that values money and wealth over quality and competence. There is no room to grow or improve in a cultural and spiritual vacuum.