Seafood restaurant on SF's Fisherman's Wharf says fishing boat threatens its survival

Saturday, June 13, 2020
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In San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, two crowd favorites have been going head-to-head.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- When times get tough, they magnify the differences between some of us, especially when business owners fight for survival.

In San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, two crowd favorites have been going head-to-head.

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"What's up, Guiseppe?" asked a customer as he approached the fishing boat named Pioneer.

Most days, owner Guiseppe Pennisi would say, "halibut."

Now, add angst and frustration as the last fisherman of a breed.

"There is no one left and I think it is important to keep it going."

He's the last commercial fisherman selling multiple rockfish from the dock directly to customers. The Port of San Francisco has allowed him do so since October 2017.

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Now the port has ordered a suspension to that operation for 90 days, beginning Monday after concerns from Scoma's Restaurant, just a few feet away.

"We are losing money every single day just trying to keep the door open," said Scoma's owner Tom Creedon.

At the root of this, a turf war between neighbors. The Pioneer leases its slip. The restaurant has a license to use the parking lot that separating them.

"This goes back a couple of weeks ago when we couldn't get people in here to pick up the food," said Creedon.

Three years ago, he supported Pennisi and his sales operation.

Today, the restaurant produced pictures of a parking lot overcrowded by customers buying from the boat.

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To survive in a time of social distancing, Scoma's wants to begin serving customers outside.

"Scoma's has a lease that allows them to do this operation. They need to put their workers back to work," said Port spokesman Randy Quezada.

"When you have someone using your property for free and they keep obstructing your business, I don't care to have them around," added Creedon.

"If you can't sell here?" we asked Pennisi.

"We're done. I have to tie up my boat."

But, for now, The Port has acted. And yet, there are no real winners in a fight like this. Not in a battle for survival made worse by hard times all around.