Lack of foot traffic in SF Financial District forces popular Barbacco Restaurant to close

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Monday, September 25, 2023
Popular SF restaurant closing due to lack of downtown foot traffic
Barbacco, another one of downtown San Francisco's long-time restaurants, is closing its doors at the end of the week.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Barbacco, another one of downtown San Francisco's longtime restaurants, is closing its doors at the end of the week.

After 14 years, the restaurant's final day of service will be Friday, Sept. 29.

The owner says the lack of foot traffic is to blame.

Umberto Gibin owns Barbacco and the restaurant next door, Perbacco.

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Gibin says Barbacco, the "little sister" restaurant, is unsustainable because there just aren't enough people in the Financial District.

"We saw a decline in traffic. We saw a decline in business in general," Gibin said.

Businesses in the Financial District and across the city have been hit hard by the loss of office workers.

According to the latest data published in July from commercial real estate firm CBRE, the office vacancy rate in San Francisco was 31.6% at the end of the second quarter of 2023.

Before the pandemic, the office vacancy level in the city stood at just 4%, according to CBRE.

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"Office vacancy -- that's an office without a tenant," said Ted Egan, the chief economist for the City and County of San Francisco.

"Even the office space that does have tenants is not very full. We're seeing data that suggest that it's 40% to 50% full on a given day compared to 2019, which means the foot traffic is half of what it was," Egan said.

"SF Downtown has the lowest occupancy rate of any city in the use. The city and the Downtown community is trying to do something, but don't see it happening anytime soon. Employers have to put their foot down and have people come back to work," Gibin said.

City leaders say business has improved for local restaurants since the pandemic ended, but things are still a long way off.

"We are still lagging most other cities. We still have a long way to go," said Egan.

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