San Francisco leaders believe nightlife is key to bringing city back

J.R. Stone Image
Tuesday, April 30, 2024
SF leaders believe nightlife is key to bringing city back
San Francisco city leaders believe one of the keys to bringing the city back is nightlife.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco city leaders believe one of the keys to bringing the city back is nightlife.

Mayor London Breed says the number of bars and restaurants opening is on the rise, but bar owners tell us there are still major struggles. One bar owner told us the people just aren't there yet, referring to those in the city and what crowds look like now versus pre-pandemic.

Bar operators say when venues have a DJ or musician, they often pull larger crowds - that could be seen in our video showing musician Chris Clouse at San Francisco's White Rabbit.

New bars like Zhuzh near California and Polk, is one of nearly 150 new businesses that opened in March in San Francisco.

MORE: SF extends program that waived $2.5M in fees to new businesses and ones struggling to stay open

"We believe in the city and we know that things are going to turn around in reality. This is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world," said Aaron Paul of Zhuzh.

In fact, the city of San Francisco is cutting some of the red tape. Bar owners tell us city leaders have yanked the $5,000 entertainment license fee for new businesses in their first year and made those easier to get by rezoning certain areas from residential to commercial. Meaning DJs at those venues can now play until 2 a.m. instead of 11 p.m.

"As of this week, we have DJs seven nights a week," said Paul.

And enticing people to come to the city or to go to venues is what was talked about Monday at The SF Nightlife and Entertainment Summit. Travel experts saying there that people are now coming to San Francisco because they want to come not because they have to come.

Zhuzh's Aaron Paul says sales have been down 30-50% at his other establishment, and bar owner friends of his are feeling it even worse, but he's still optimistic like city officials.

MORE: Restaurants open, expand in SF as businesses bet on downtown comeback

"I truly believe that nightlife will be the engine that brings our city back, I think it will be the main engine," said Ben Bleiman, SF Entertainment Commission president.

"The controller's office recently reported a jump in new restaurants and bars opening in our city with 99 new businesses opening in February and 147 new businesses opening in March," said Mayor Breed on Monday.

"San Francisco's comeback is underway and it is entertainment and culturally powered," said San Francisco Supervisor Matt Dorsey.

"You watch Fox News and they show people shooting up in the Tenderloin and you're like, that does happen but our whole city is still beautiful. There's a lot of us living here that love it and get some positive vibes back on," said Paul.

Night Markets offering food, fun, and drinks have become very popular in different neighborhoods of San Francisco. The East Cut neighborhood is set to have their Night Market this Thursday, May 2 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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