Businesses near SF's Moscone Center see up to 80% decrease in sales during APEC

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Saturday, November 18, 2023
Businesses by Moscone Center see 80% decrease in sales during APEC
Small business owners near San Francisco's Moscone Center say they saw up to a 80% decrease in sales during APEC.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The APEC summit was expected to generate $53 million for the local economy, according to San Francisco Travel.

But many small businesses especially around the Moscone Center, say APEC hurt them more than it helped.

Moscone Center is one of the security zones for APEC. Small businesses owners say the strict security measures -- metal fencing, concrete barriers and uniformed officers -- kept their customers away and hurt their bottom line.

At the corner of 5th and Mission, there's SOMA Restaurant and Bar.

Owner Kazim Altan says the week-long APEC Summit has been tough for them.

"With APEC, we thought it would help us. But it took business away from us," said Altan.

MORE: 2023 APEC summit: Everything to know about San Francisco road closures, security and more

Altan says people didn't come to soma. People didn't come downtown.

"Getting our business down over 60, 70, 80 percent," said Altan.

It's a similar story for Executive Order Bar & Lounge.

The owner believes people stayed away because of the road closures and extra security measures.

"It has cost us tens of thousands. Compared to this time last year, it's over an 80 percent loss in revenue," said John Eric Sanchez, owner of Executive Order Bar & Lounge.

Executive Order Bar & Lounge is inside the security perimeter. But, there are no security checks needed to access the business at 868 Mission.

MORE: As APEC events wrap up, many SF Chinatown businesses wait for economic boost

"You can come right off fifth and Mission. You can walk down from Market Street," said Sanchez.

One of the hardest hit businesses is Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken. It's inside the Metreon -- in the highest security zone.

At the end of the day Wednesday, the owner closed his business for the rest of the week.

Bonchon lost at least $15,000 this week in sales.

"Wednesday, the day we closed, we were down 80%. We're a restaurant that normally serves 300 customers a day. And we served all day," said Manuel Ramirez, owner of the Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken location.

Business owners are frustrated. They want city leaders to know it.

MORE: 'Where are the people?': Some SF restaurants feeling the impact of APEC

In response, Supervisor Matt Dorsey of District 6 released this statement Friday:

"Many of the small businesses in SoMa have been impacted by APEC due to the closed-off security zone and very low customer traffic. I'm committed to advocate for their long-term success and sustainability, and my staff will be out there today to connect with and provide resources to some of these businesses."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently approved a resolution that set aside $10 million for community members affected by APEC.

The Office of Economic Workforce Development issued vouchers or gift cards for APEC staff to use at several impacted businesses inside the Metreon.

Business owners tell ABC7 News they appreciate the support, but they say much more needs to be done.

Friday afternoon, the Office of Economic and Work released this statement:

"We understood there would be impacts and some disruptions throughout the week, which is why we launched a multi-agency outreach effort. Led by the Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD), the Office of Small Business (OSB), Office of the Assessor Recorder, Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs (OCEIA), the Port, and the Mayor's Office, the teams directly engaged with businesses and merchants as soon as the United States Secret Service and federal partners shared their plans for securing APEC-related areas. That work happened every day over the last several months - in forms of community meetings, flyers, an informational website, virtual meetings and calls, and in-person outreach within the immediate vicinity of the security zones. We have been sharing information, listening to community concerns, engaging with businesses and residents, and advocating to the USSS on behalf of the businesses concerns daily, leading up to, and throughout APEC. This advocacy and work is ongoing, and as APEC concludes the OEWD and Office of Small Business are working better to understand the full impacts to small businesses from APEC.

We'll be working with small businesses sector to examine how we can better serve them not only in the wake of this event, but to better position them to benefit from future ones.

This is the largest gathering of global leaders San Francisco has hosted in over 75 years and while the City has been closely planning at all levels with local, state and federal partners, the magnitude of an event like this is unprecedented and brings impacts that are both anticipated and unknown. But we won't really understand the volume of impacts until the event concludes, delegations depart, and federal partners remove all security elements over the next few days.

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