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

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, November 14, 2023
'Where are the people?': Some SF businesses feeling impact of APEC
Some restaurant owners in San Francisco say they've noticed a substantial hit to their business due to the APEC summit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From the international visitors to the high-profile meetings and press coverage, San Francisco officials believe this week's APEC summit will pump as much as $50 million into the economy.

"It's really about the longer term investments from these discussions, these talks, and the exposure it has for the city," said Rodney Fong of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

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

Despite those lofty projections, however, not everyone is benefiting.

"Where are the people? I mean that's basically what the businesses are asking," said Manuel Ramirez.

Ramirez owns Bonchon Korean Fried Chicken inside the Metreon - just feet away from where APEC is taking place.

He says since the security fences around the conference went up last week, his business has plummeted, with Monday being especially difficult.

MORE: Day-by-day timeline of APEC Summit in San Francisco

"We ended up closing the worst day as a business owner in SoMa. We've been there for 12 years, we know what the ups and downs of the area are like, and this was just complete disruption," Ramirez said.

It's a similar story across town at Abaca, near Fisherman's Wharf.

Owner Francis Ang says while his restaurant isn't inside the security perimeter, they too have noticed a substantial hit to their business.

"We started seeing from like 80 covers, to 60, to 40, to like in the 10s," Ang said.

VIDEO: Aerial performance artists scale San Francisco's Transamerica Pyramid kicking off APEC

Three people from BANDALOOP vertical performance troupe were spotted rappelling down the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco to help kick off APEC.

Ang says for this week, Abaca has made several modifications.

That includes limiting their menu on some days and canceling a special guest chef do an event at the restaurant.

Ang tells ABC7 News he hopes more people come back soon.

"Restaurants have really tight margins. Like I don't know if you know, but between 5-15% are your margins. You don't have a lot to play around with," said Ang.

MORE: Protesters rally against world leaders, Israel-Hamas war as APEC summit commences in San Francisco

In order to lessen the impact, the city has taken steps to help some small businesses.

Ramirez says they bought the equivalent of 1,200 meals from his restaurant.

Something he says certainly helps but isn't close to being enough.

"The city's hoping that international investment will come out of this. But will the small business owners in SoMa who have tried to endure the pandemic - will we be alive?" said Ramirez.


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