File photo by Andrea Valencia.

After two years of trying to revamp Dante’s Weird Fish and open a new place at the site The Corner once occupied, the owner Peter Hood has “thrown in the towel” and sold both businesses to another restaurateur who will install two new places.

The Mission, he said, was over-saturated and over-regulated with requirements like Healthy San Francisco, a mandate that requires businesses with 20 or more employees to provide health benefits for them, which made it more taxing to do business. He added that he’s tired of the countless start-ups such as Groupon and other discounters trying to become middlemen between him and his customers.

“I will say that, across the board, anyone who has been around the Mission all felt that the pie was getting slightly smaller,” he said about the abundance of restaurants in the Mission. “What can you do there with so many new businesses and seats?”

He also said he was simply older and tired.

“I am just getting older,” said the 50-year-old who will be having a fourth child soon and who still has an interest in St. Francis Fountain, Boogaloos and the Crossroads Café in Joshua Tree. “I got a full plate already.”

Irfan Yalçin, the new owner, who currently runs Pera, a Mediterranean restaurant in Potrero Hill, will open two new restaurants: a wine bar at 18th and Mission where The Corner once stood and a French bistro next door where Weird Fish is currently dishing out vegetarian seafood.

L’Emigrante Wine Bar will open later this month at 2199 Mission St. The name of the restaurant comes from a movie about an Italian immigrant coming to America, a fitting title for Yalçin, who is a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey.

“With all diverse ethnicities in Mission I would like to bring wines around the world on very affordable prices,” he said. Most bottles will cost between $20 to $36, he added.

As for Weird Fish next door, it will stay open at least until the end of the year, and then it is going to become a French Bistro named Le Bon Vivre. Both businesses will serve beer and wine.

Hood started Weird Fish in 2006 and the Corner in 2009 before leaving them both in 2009. He bought them both back in 2012 in hopes of reviving Weird Fish. He also wanted to use The Corner’s old spot for Perch, a European-style breakfast place, but he failed to find a partner. Meanwhile he paid rent for two-and-half years and finally gave up earlier this year and signed the spot over to Yalçin.

Down the street, another restaurateur from the late 2000s era also closed for business at the end of last month. Gino Assaf walked away from Piattini, which was formerly Specchio Ristorante, after six years in business. He kept it in the neighborhood by selling his expensive liquor license and space to his neighbors, the owners of Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem.

Hood will still be around the Mission running St. Francis Fountain and Boogaloos, where business has also declined, though he didn’t say by how much.

“This is not some sort of ‘I am a vindictive person,” he said. “I’ve loved the Mission. I think it is an amazing neighborhood and I love everything about it. It’s just not very friendly to small businesses.”

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare...

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13 Comments

  1. We stopped going to Weird Fish when they got rid of their Tofu veggie option, maybe they brought it back, but once you stop going to a place it’s hard to restart.

    We stopped going to St. Francis Fountain since the quality went WAY WAY down in the recent years. Burned pancakes, kind of “meh” omelets, etc…

    I wonder if he has too much on his plate and the quality of his restaurants is suffering.

    A couple days of “mystery eaters” or whatever you want to call it could get him some unvarnished truth about his restaurants (esp the SFF)

    I’d love the SFF to be higher quality but again, it’s out out of our loop after having 3 “meh” meals in a row.

  2. I stopped going to Boogaloos a few years ago. The product was no longer worth the price. The cooks no longer cared and it showed!

  3. same story with weird fish, boogaloos, and saint francis…the food simply wasn’t as good as it used to be. you can’t rest on your laurels with constant competition in the Mission. The neighborhood is extremely friendly to small business but why would anyone spend their hard-earned money on a “meh” experience.

  4. For years now both boogaloos and St Francis have crap food, and long lines of clueless,hipster tourists lining up. No thank you. As for weird fish, about 6+ years ago it was cool, with all the lesbian waitresses. But that was a long time ago….

  5. “where The Corner once stood and a French bistro next door where Weird Fish is currently dishing out ”

    Actually, The Corner is two doors over from Weird Fish, not next door, but that’s a minor factoid.

    The Corner previously was La Esquina, which is the same words in Spanish.

    I would prefer to see hipster restaurants off Mission Street on Valencia or side streets.

    These hipster encroachments that are now spilling onto Mission are a threat to the traditional Hispanic character of the street that tourists come to see.

    Complaining about the mandate that requires businesses with 20 or more employees to provide health benefits seems specious to me.

    The City has unemployment barely over 5%, so the mandate is obviously working and NOT causing significant layoffs or closures.

    If it really is a burden, can these employees be moved onto Obamacare?

  6. Sick of businesses who whine about giving staff insurance. And stay away from those who whine about it on my check with extra fee. good riddance

  7. Can’t speak to the quality of the food at these restaurants, but I have to concur that perhaps Healthy San Francisco’s requirements for having health coverage for their employees could be onerous. And before you start out on me, I am firmly on the side of businesses doing all they can to somehow empower their staff via benefits. As a matter of fact, at times it is even a criteria in how I choose a restaurant these days.

    I’m prepared to pay more for meals if the owners are able to show that they pay a living wage, are offering some kind of health benefits, etc, and I respect their efforts. I still leave myself the option to say no, I won’t eat here because your prices are too high or your food doesn’t equate to the price, etc. It’s a tough time for restauranteurs.

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