SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Popular Moroccan restaurant Aziza has begun outdoor dining just off Geary Boulevard in San Francisco’s Richmond District.
It is meant to give the acclaimed restaurant a boost, one that eateries across the city desperately need.
“Everybody that I know in the industry — and I know a lot of people — nobody’s making money, everybody’s struggling, everybody’s scraping by and, basically, the amount of revenue that we’re making is just to keep the lights on,” said owner and chef Mourad Lahlou.
New data from the Chamber of Commerce reflect that trend. San Francisco restaurant sales have dropped 91 percent since the pandemic began, based on credit card activity. About half of the city’s restaurants are closed, whether temporarily or permanently.
“There is … talk among chefs and among restaurant owners that a lot of special places in San Francisco and in the Bay Area are going to be gone,” said Lahlou. “And it just is, like, this kind of sadness that hits me and it literally breaks my heart to see so many wonderful places, so much hard work, so much passion, so much talent that is just going to go away.”
Lahlou says his restaurant is one of the lucky ones but staying in business isn’t easy. Before the pandemic, a typical night would bring in up to $15,000. With take-out and outdoor dining, Aziza hopes to make a third of that.
“The fish, the lamb, the food has been great, the parklet’s great,” said diner Tasha Magnani of San Francisco. “We thought it was going to be really cold out here but how they did the parklet is absolutely cozy and warm and you feel private and safe.”
Diner Aaron Tidman came out to support Lahlou.
“I know how hard the chefs work and, I mean, restaurants can’t survive on that reduced level of revenue with expenses being the same amount,” he said.
Christopher Westcott says he wants to do his part to help his favorite restaurants survive.
“Everyone can support their communities and their neighborhoods in so many different ways and we’re all choosing to do different things,” said Westcott. “What better way than to come out and have dinner and a cocktail and do something for the community.”
The Chamber of Commerce says the Richmond and Mission Districts are faring better than others during the pandemic. SoMa and Financial District restaurants are hurting the most.