Flour + Water Pizzeria on 18th and Valencia has closed temporarily. Photo by Lydia Chávez

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It was clearly a slower Saturday night for most Mission District businesses, but far from dead.

Even at 6 p.m. – generally early for most restaurants – many up and down Valencia Street had a fair number of tables filled. Later, after 9 p.m., several establishments reported traffic was down  — and, for some, it was down significantly. 

“Usually, we are kicking people out of here at this time,” said Seph Hamilton of Dog Eared Books, at 9:50 p.m., 10 minutes to closing time.  On Saturday night, however, only one couple remained in the store and they were on their way out. 

Nelson Ventura, his colleague at Dog Eared Books, said they got a spurt of traffic earlier in the day, but that foot traffic on Valencia was definitely down. Of course, there was the rain to contend with, but even factoring that in, the business was down. 

When Ventura took a break to get a slice of pizza at Serrano’s nearby, he was surprised to discover no line. When I asked what time it had been, he said, “It doesn’t matter; anytime I go to Serrano’s there are always at least five people there.”

Seph Hamilton in the orange jacket and Nelson Ventura in the front. Photo by Lydia Chávez.

On 24th Street, at Taqueria Guadalajara, Angel Delgado, who has worked there for four years, said the business was definitely off — probably by 20 percent. “People are still coming in,” he said. And at least four tables were filled with customers after 9 p.m. So far, he added, they have not cut staff. 

Near 10 p.m., 24th Street and the southern part of the Mission felt quieter than normal, but any open restaurant or cafe had a few people at its tables. 

Destination restaurants on Valencia Street appeared to be comfortably busy at 9:30 p.m., including Al’s Place on 26th Street, Barzotto, the Valencia Grill, Beretta’s, the Beehive and Flour + Water Pizzeria. But in talking to staff at many, it became clear that comfortably busy is not what they are accustomed to on a Saturday night. 

From the outside looking in, the Beehive appeared full. But Tala Delgado, who has worked security outside for two years, said that he estimated traffic was down by 30 to 40 percent. “Usually, it’s virtually packed,” he said regarding normal Saturday nights. 

Terron Nelson, head of security at the Valencia Cafe, agreed. They too had 30 percent fewer customers. “We’re counting on our regulars,” he said as a group of four walked in the door. 

At Barzotto near 24th, Evan, who works the front, said they were down, but “with the rain, we expect to be down.” The restaurant was 60 percent filled at 9:30 p.m. “We’ll see what happens the next few weeks,” he said. 

He saw one upside to the less hectic pace. “I get to hang out more with the customers who are here.” 

Evan, working the front at Barzotto. Photo by Lydia Chávez

Update 12:30 p.m.

A visitor to the Whole Foods in Noe Valley sent the featured photo above of the peanut butter and other condiments aisle empty. And no, that aisle is not an anomaly.

Whole Foods. Noe Valley.

While local cafes have taken self-service items behind the counter to avoid the spread of germs, Whole Foods still has its self-service bars open. Nigel, an employee reached by phone, said there had been no discussion about limiting access to the self-service bars. He directed me to Ray, who said I should call media, which appears to be out for the weekend. George at a customer service number said she send the questions to the store and get back to us.

Earlier, Eater reported that the Los Angeles County Department of Health Department recommended servers at self-service buffets. 

Whole Foods. Noe Valley.

Update: 3:19 p.m.

Business closures accelerated on Sunday with  Flour + Water Pizzeria and others “temporarily” suspending services. Fort Point also shuttered temporarily today as did Top Drawer and the Crepe House.  In each case, the establishments posted notices on their doors and on Instagram.

Top Drawer said it would be closed until March 27th, but others left reopening vague. “…due to COVID-19, and for safety purposes, We are closing today at 2 p.m.,” said the notice at the Crepe House.

Otherwise, business on Valencia street seemed down on Sunday, but Dog Eared books had a good number of customers at 3 p.m., Lolo’s appeared full and Arizmendi had a small line waiting for pizza.

Flour + Water appeared to be doing fairly well on Saturday night, but by today, it was shut.  Photo by Lydia Chávez.
Notice at Flour + Water on Sunday. Photo by Lydia Chávez.

We will update if we get more information.

Again, here are the go-to public health sites for checking San Francisco and state updates.

Some useful links: San Francisco Public Health Department’s site on the virus.

The California Department of Health’s  Website. 

And here is a link from that main webpage to the state’s latest updates. 

More useful links. 

From the Washington Post, which is not charging for this content: Mapping the Spread.   And What you need to know. (UPDATED) The WP has added very good simulations showing Why outbreaks spread and how to flatten the curve. 

 Covid Updates, Saturday, March 14, 2020. En Español

Covid Updates from Friday, March 13, 2020

Parents react to news of school closures, March 12, 2020

And a reminder, your donations keep us at work. Thank you to all who support us. If you have not and you read Mission Local regularly, please do. 

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

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  1. Reporting from The Crepe House at 1132 Valencia st @22nd, we close at 2pm today ( usually 8:30pm) , business dropped by 70% ( and yesterday by 60%) and we might close for good at the end of month, business has been struggling in the past 10 month, we will be paying our workers for their regular hours until we close permanently. Thanks to our great neighbors for there support in past 10 years.

  2. Check out FoodsCo at the corner of Folsom and 14th Street. For the two days they have no been letting customers enter the store without waiting outside (in the cold and rain) for extended periods of time possible as much as an hour at a time.

    As of two hours ago there were about 25 customers standing outside waiting to do in.

    Please contact them and ask for an explanation. This is unprecedented and a cruel say to treat customers.

    1. We are in unprecedented times. I would guess they are trying to limit indoor crowds for social-distancing purposes, per The mayor and governor’s instruction.

    2. What was the situation? Was it really packed inside? What if they were at capacity and too busy inside? They could get in a lot of trouble if they exceed capacity, as it could be unsafe for everyone inside – including you. Surely those of you waiting outside weren’t the only ones there to shop at that time…