APEC causes slow sales and temporary restaurant closures in SF.

As the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit descends on San Francisco this week, some food businesses are opting to close temporarily rather than face dismal sales and disruptions to their operations.

Wine Down, a bar on Folsom Street in the highly restricted security area of ​​downtown San Francisco, is closed this week and next. Popular bakery B. Patisserie announced it will be closed Wednesday and Thursday after learning of the temporary APEC-related parking restrictions at California and Pine streets. Batter Bakery is closing its downtown California Street kiosk for the rest of the week. Other restaurants in San Francisco are seeing sales drop by as much as 70% and a wave of cancellations due to APEC.

“Every day matters to us,” said Wine Down co-owner Jaime Hiraishi. “It’s quite confusing how they expect businesses to be able to survive this.”

APEC, San Francisco’s largest international event since 1945, rerouted public transportation and led to street closures and protests across the city. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend the conference, but it is not yet clear how much this will benefit local restaurants.

A California Highway Patrolman instructs a driver where to go while patrolling Mission Street outside the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the Moscone Center in San Francisco on November 14, 2023.

Jessica Christian/The Chronicle

Hiraishi has been following APEC news, trying to figure out how severe the impact will be on her bar. Regulars who live in the neighborhood started telling her they were planning to leave town. Office workers said they would be working remotely throughout the week. She wasn’t sure how she or the employees would get into work. After she told a large group booking for that week about street closures and checkpoints nearby they would have to go through, they canceled.

The tipping point was when she learned that Folsom Street — where the wine bar usually gets its supplies — would become a no-go zone this week and next.

“How are we even going to get there?” Hiraishi said. “Overall, we decided it wouldn’t be worth it.”

B. Patisserie owner Belinda Leong didn’t know her Pacific Heights bakery, far from the main APEC activity downtown, would be affected until a few days ago when temporary no-parking signs went up at Pine and California streets near the business . Parking is prohibited on these two streets and some adjacent side streets from 8 a.m. to noon Thursday due to APEC.

“My staff or customers can’t park here at all,” she said.

Co-owner Belinda Leong helps customers at B. Patisserie in 2018. She decided to close the bakery for two days due to APEC parking restrictions.

Co-owner Belinda Leong helps customers at B. Patisserie in 2018. She decided to close the bakery for two days due to APEC parking restrictions.

Paul Chin/The Chronicle

But she’s keeping her nearby French restaurant Routier open, as well as B. On the Go, a sister cafe at the corner of California and Divisadero streets. She said her staff will use B. On the Go to prepare Thanksgiving orders and offer a limited number of pastries on Wednesday and Thursday in case customers come in unaware of the closing.

Other restaurants, both inside and outside the security zone, are worried about serious declines in business. Large barriers have gone up in front of many downtown businesses this week, including Oren’s Hummus on 3rd Street, putting the restaurant “in a difficult position to attract business,” owner Misty Boulton wrote in an email to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Things have been “very quiet” this week at the Grove on Mission Street, CEO David Cohen wrote in an email to the Chronicle. Initially, Cohen “was very hopeful that APEC would generate guest numbers similar to those of other conventions of their size,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, that is not the case.”

Liberty Ducks, which supplies many Bay Area restaurants, has had mixed results so far. Some restaurants have cut back on standing orders because they’re losing cover, owner Jennifer Reichardt wrote in an email to the Chronicle, while others are “placing huge orders” for special dinners this week.

Restaurant owners are also frustrated by what feels like a lack of communication from the city about how to keep their businesses open amid the disruption. Leong said she only learned about the parking restrictions when the signs went up in front of B. Patisserie. Hiraishi criticized the “mixed messages” of “you can stay open, but … stay away from the areas because the traffic is going to be so bad.”

San Francisco's Abacá restaurant, pictured in 2021, operates with a small staff and limited menu due to APEC concerns.

San Francisco’s Abacá restaurant, pictured in 2021, operates with a small staff and limited menu due to APEC concerns.

Nick Otto/Special to The Chronicle

Abacá, a Filipino restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel, said business began to slow down significantly last weekend. The restaurant has canceled all reservations this week and will operate with a small staff and a limited menu just for hotel guests, chef-owner Francis Ang said. His sous chef, who lives in the East Bay, is staying at Ang’s home in San Francisco to avoid the bumpy commute.

“What people are doing is waiting: Is it good for the city or bad?” Ang said. “In the long run, it might help the city, but in the meantime, that’s what hurts.”

Contact Elena Kadvany: [email protected]

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