Not everything can be blamed on the coronavirus — but it was, indeed, “the last nail in the coffin” for The Crepe House on Valencia Street.
While many restaurants around the neighborhood have temporarily closed their doors, the crepe establishment that has operated on Valencia Street between 22nd and 23rd streets for some 10 years will close its doors for good at the end of the month.
The restaurant is currently doing deliveries, and taking it “day by day,” according to owner Shar Haddadin, who said that, since people began distancing themselves from public spaces, business has dropped some 70 percent.
But the pandemic is not the only reason for his decision.
Truth be told, said Haddadin, “2019 was a hard year for us.” He said business had dropped some 20 percent from 2018 — and numerous factors facing the business in 2020 appeared daunting.
For one, his building was sold to Mosser Capital in January, and the two parties agreed to a 35 percent rent increase. Haddadin said he was okay with a rent increase — but there were other factors to consider: The temporary Hummingbird homeless respite center would soon move in next door, and new protected bike lanes would likely be installed.
Plus, two separate five-story mixed-use buildings had been proposed on either side of the restaurant — one on the former Lucca Ravioli Co. parking lot and the other to replace the U-Save Hardware store. The construction would be too disruptive, Haddadin said, and drive customers away.
“Then the coronavirus came along and that was the last nail in the coffin,” he said, as a large, widescreen TV in the restaurant flashed images of a nation in panic on Monday. “So we decided not to go forward.”
Haddadin said his new landlord had offered a 50 percent reduction in rent as the pandemic crisis continued. Nonetheless, “we decided to move on.”
On Monday, the 53-year-old reflected on better times. He emigrated to the United States from Jordan in 1992, with his eye on becoming a certified public accountant. “But I never did,” he said. “I wanted to cook.”
After working at a friend’s crepe restaurant for several years, he opened the first Crepe House on Polk Street in 1996, eventually growing the business to four locations — adding Hayes Valley, Union Square, and Valencia Street.
The large TV that on Monday afternoon flitted images of global pandemonium was, in fact, the centerpiece of one of the Valencia Crepe House’s happiest moments: The 2014 World Cup.
“We couldn’t keep up with people coming in and watching games,” Haddadin remembered.
But, slowly, business dropped off. In the last three years, Haddadin noticed a difference on Valencia Street: Fewer people were walking around and sitting out on sunny days. He couldn’t definitively say why, but if he were to blame anything, it would be people staying at home and ordering from third-party delivery services like Caviar and GrubHub.
“I see people order a bagel and cream cheese,” he said, alarmed they would pay $3 for the bagel and $4 for the delivery fee.
Sometimes he would see their addresses. “Literally if I stuck my head out I could see their apartment,” he said. “I want to wave at them and say, ‘Hey, dude, don’t pay $4 — I’ll deliver it for you on my expense.’”
Although the Crepe House in Hayes Valley closed, and the Union Square location is now under different ownership, Haddadin emphasized that his store on Polk Street is still open for business.
And while all small businesses in San Francisco are in uncharted territory, Haddadin said “I have no plans to close Polk.”
We will update as we hear more.
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COVID-19 Mission District updates. March 16
COVID-19: Mission District business dipped on Saturday night, and, by Sunday, Flour + Water Pizzeria and others had closed (update 3:19 p.m.), March 15
Covid Updates, Saturday, March 14, 2020. En Español
Covid Updates from Friday, March 13, 2020
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Maybe if the city government got rid of the “Healthy San Francisco” taxes, or cut other taxes and fees that burden restaurants, we would see fewer of them closing their doors.
Always enjoyed my times there be it for a quick breakfast nosh, a more relaxed brunch, or the more rare – grab a late afternoon/evening bite. Everyone was very nice and the customers always appreciative. Wishing them the best.
It my favorite place to eat in San Francisco, make it in when visiting the city. I hope he changes his mind and his landlord gives him no option but to stay. Nice place in the Mission.
Count on a big crowd when Coronavirus is gone, we pray soon.
Great food and friendly staff, and watching the world cup there was my daily routine iin 2014. Sorry to see the Crepe House at Valencia close. Good luck Shar.
Sad to see it!! Such a good restaurant, always served wonderful food and had the best mood.
The right decision at the right time, my God bless you and your family
Crepe House on Valencia sorry to know you’re closing,
Always my first destination whenever I visited San Francisco
Sad to hear that Valencia will close… no worries Shar… we will follow you wherever you go… let it be Polk street…
It was a beautiful place with nice people working over there. I will miss this place a lot!
Such a homey place. What a lost for locals.
Unity versus Distancing
That’s how we all can help in flatting the curve.
Great work hoping the better to come yet to all.
Let’s all put hand in hand to overcome this crises
Thank you Shar Haddafin
The Crepe House was probably one of the best spots in the mission district ! They had everything you could want and free WiFi. I’m really going to miss this place and their friendly service. Not gonna find another place like this on Valencia anymore.
It’s so sad to see so many local businesses either closed or closing soon. This place is my favorite spot, where I felt welcomed all the time.
OH MAN!! I LOVED THAT PLACE, the people are cool, the food is solid and hefty. SF needs to control rent so businesses like this can thrive. This is sad.
Oh I’m in disbelief!!!! the owner and his staff are the nicest people on earth and the food is solid. I’m sad they are gone. I agree with “eh” comment, they are at the end of the action of Valencia street. good luck to everyone there, you will be missed.
yeah this one hurts. I loved the staff and the speak-his-mind-freely owner there. Sending them lots of love
This place was solid. I love the People’s Cafe/Intermezzo style more than the bucket o’ potatoes Squat & Gobble style, so it was a nice surprise when they opened up. The location was just a block or so too far out, rents (predictably) probably make them impossible to run unless they’ve been in a location for 25 years.