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.”