Arinell Pizza
This is what business used to look like. Photo by Lola M. Chavez. Arinell Pizza.

The owner of Arinell Pizza on Valencia Street remembers when customers used to pour out of BART at 16th Street and end up at his place for a slice while bar-hopping in the Mission.

But those days are long gone and, unless hungry clients reappear in droves soon, the 33-year-old pizza joint will not make it.

“Business has been very poor,” said Ron Demirdjian, owner of Arinell Pizza, last month. “The model for the business for being successful was for people to get really drunk … hop bar to bar and eat Arinell pizza.”

The pandemic ended that business model, and Demirdjian said he has been running the business at a deficit for the last two years.

“It’s really disheartening,” he said. Demirdjian received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) assistance over the past two years, but it wasn’t enough to make ends meet.

It’s unclear whether he will make a decision to close up shop for good; for now, Demirdjian says he will keep Arinell Pizza going. Last month, Demirdjian decided to shutter the pizzeria on Mondays and Tuesdays, due to “abysmal” earnings and staffing issues. Once a late-night spot, Arinell has already been closing at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends.

The Berkeley location, where Arinell began in 1975, has been doing better and, for now, will remain open.

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. I think the failure of this business is employing about the worst, rudest employees in the history of fast food. Truly, despicable, often high, rude, and they burn the pizza. This review is aimed at the Berkeley store, which sucks. Does the owner know or care?

  2. No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Mama mia, Mama mia! My favorite pizza! (Miss the Arinell Palmer.) Hoping something can be worked out. (Good suggestions/ideas, Lee.)

  3. I like the video that is included with the article. Will stop by for my next pizza.Thanks!

  4. Terribly sad news, particularly as so many similarly situated legacy businesses have struggled during the pandemic. I hope Mr. Dermidjien recognizes the unusual leverage he has to negotiate for rent forgiveness, or forbearance while they stabilize. The Storefront Vacancy Tax was designed with the explicit intent to bring landlord property owners to the table around such negotiations. Also wondering if he’s open to turning the business over to his crew of awesome metal heads, many of whom have worked there for years.