Coronavirus impact: Popular San Francisco restaurant chain The Grove at risk of closing

ByLauren Martinez KGO logo
Sunday, May 3, 2020
The Grove, popular SF restaurant chain, at risk of closing amid COVID-19 pandemic
Businesses and restaurants are either boarding up for good, or their teetering to do so from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Grove, a small restaurant chain in San Francisco announced the closure of their Hayes Valley location.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Businesses and restaurants are either boarding up for good, or their teetering to do so from the economic fallout of COVID-19. The small restaurant chain called The Grove in San Francisco announced the closure of their Hayes Valley location.

The owners tell us they decided to close the Hayes Valley restaurant permanently. They say Bank of America failed to submit a loan they applied for to keep their business running -- and re-applying would take weeks.

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Rich Mironov lives directly above The Grove in Hayes Valley. He said the restaurant was like an anchor on the block.

"It's really sad you know, it was a neighborhood place," Mironov said.

He doesn't think loosening health restrictions for restaurants to be at 50% capacity will do much for the ones currently struggling.

"It's hard enough for the restaurants to make it in town here between the rent and the wages and everything. I wonder if half-full is enough to cut it," Mironov said.

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Mironov said a real plug for the restaurants in the area is the arts nearby.

"You have the symphony here, you got the jazz center next door, City Arts and Lectures. So every night, but Monday, these places are packed because they're on their way to the show or coming back from the show. When those closed down, all the restaurant guests disappeared, so no surprise, weeks after they're shutting their doors," Mironov said.

The owners of The Grove are worried another location of theirs, on Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights, won't turn a profit once restrictions begin to loosen up due to limited seating space and social distancing measures.

Vas Kiniris, Executive Director Fillmore Merchant Association, says they are the oldest merchant association in San Francisco. They help 250 businesses, 150 of them are considered small businesses. Kiniris said they cover Fillmore Street between Jackson and McAllister. He said right now, 90% of businesses are closed, 30 are boarded up.

"They're scrambling," Kiniris said. "They're doing what they can to keep these employees employed. Initially, a lot of the restaurants offered takeout and delivery, but quickly it became apparent that that was not an economic viable model."

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Kiniris did not have a number of permanently closed businesses on Fillmore. He believes those that had a digital presence before COVID-19, had a leg up, and those still trying to stay open should adapt to online services.

"There needs to be an online shop, of course, catering, takeout, delivery, online apps. It's definitely the future," Kiniris said.

He applauded Mayor London Breed and Governor Newsom for their efforts to keep people safe but believes businesses need to start opening up in a safe manner.

"There are 95,000 businesses in the city, half of them are considered small businesses. 45,000 employ 10 or less employees and yet they employ 350,000 people in the city. So this is a big part of our community," Kiniris said.

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