Photo by Yujie Zhou.

With the explosion of omicron cases, many small businesses and, especially, Mission restaurants have flipped their chairs up on the tables, shut their doors, and hung a “CLOSED” sign on the front door. For some, the closure is temporary, while others are gone for good.

“We want to make money, but we don’t want people to get sick,” said Juan San Mames, owner of Xanath Organic Ice Cream on Valencia Street, which plans to reopen by the end of the month. “This new round of covid seems to be more contagious than before so we are going to see what happens at the end of the month.”

“Our business is not that great in the winter,” said Mames. But, this week, they could have cashed in on the warmer weather. 

Two blocks away from Xanath is Flour + Water Pizzeria. “We worry about the possible exposure to the virus. So we allowed everyone to go get tested and get some rest,” said An-Gloria, the general manager. It has been closed since Tuesday and plans to reopen next Monday.

And, while closed, some Flour + Water employees are still working. This afternoon, An-Gloria said they were working on a collaboration with Netflix for a “small project” featuring their famous Neapolitan pizza and sleek floorspace.

Like other businesses, Flour + Water has been forced to confront the difficult reality of operating during omicron. “You can’t really plan anything; you can only pivot just to make sure your staff is safe,” said An-Gloria.

Also on this list are three Valencia Street restaurants: Arizmendi Bakery, which also closed due to a shortage of staff; Boogaloos, which closed due to covid and just pushed back an opening date originally set for today; and the pâtisserie Craftsman & Wolves, which closed yesterday and today for staff covid testing. By Sunday, Craftsman & Wolves was open again.

Other small businesses are also struggling, but not necessarily because of Covid-19. One of them is ABC Locksmith, at 18th and Mission streets. “Due to illness, not covid, we will be closed for an undetermined amount of time. Possibly the 1st of the year,” they said. The Wells Fargo branch at 16th and Mission streets was also temporarily closed on Friday.

Earlier this week, El Capitan Taqueria permanently closed its location at 14th and Guerrero streets, which opened in early 2020.

Mau, the Vietnamese restaurant at Valencia and 18th streets, has moved to the East Cut. “Our lease at the Valencia location was coming to an end, and we found a new opportunity downtown at 180 Spear,” wrote owner Hung Dang in an email to Mission Local. 

Even so, Mau’s business model has changed for the new location. With less space in the kitchen, it will switch to a fast-casual model of service and condense its menu offerings.

Dang said, “Our time on Valencia was a blast, but it’s time to move on and explore new opportunities.”

Francisco Garcia at Café de Olla. Photo by Yujie Zhou.

Others are trying to get through the crisis by simply cutting business hours. Café de Olla has moved its long-observed closing time from 6 p.m. to 3 p.m., after losing 80 percent of its customers when the building it is housed began a two-week shutdown, according to co-owner Francisco Garcia. Plus, “there are less people in the street,” he said.

New restaurants like Café de Olla, which opened in December, 2019, weren’t able to get help from the government during the last wave of covid. Although he and his co-owner have managed to sustain the business, Garcia still feels “overwhelmed.” With only two people running the restaurant five days a week, he sometimes feels he’s “suffering from depression” and “a little down.” 

Still, Garcia is feeling optimistic for the future. “We will come back,” he said. 

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Yujie Zhou is our newest reporter and came on as an intern after graduating from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She is a full-time staff reporter as part of the Report for America program that helps put young journalists in newsrooms. Before falling in love with the Mission, Yujie covered New York City, studied politics through the “street clashes” in Hong Kong, and earned a wine-tasting certificate in two days. She’s proud to be a bilingual journalist. Follow her on Twitter @Yujie_ZZ.

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4 Comments

  1. The challenge is enormous. I own Chile Lindo, an empanadas shop on 16th & Capp, and cut down on service. I am now open to the public Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 10AM to 6PM, yet my payroll includes the prep days with no sales. I sympathize with anyone trying to survive in the City to stay in business.

    1. Hi Paula! We will be sure to stop by this week for some empanadas. Hang in there – the Mission needs strong, talented and caring business owners like you!

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