Group of San Francisco restaurants may sue the city if it bans outdoor dining
SAN FRANCISCO - California may be facing another statewide shutdown this week. Some restaurants say if outdoor dining is no longer allowed, they may have to close their doors temporarily. Others say the additional restriction could mean they'll have to close their doors for good.
A KTVU crew visited restaurants in three different San Francisco neighborhoods to gauge reaction to what they will do if political leaders decide to impose further restrictions such as banning outdoor dining.
At Union Square, John's Grill does a brisk business with outdoor dining even on a Wednesday night.
The restaurant closed for almost five months when San Francisco issued a shelter-in-place order in March.
Takeout only wasn't an option then and it's not an option now.
"Just doing delivery doesn't make sense for us," owner John Konstin Jr. said.
The restaurant reopened for outdoor dining at the end of July. Now, Konstin said he will close the restaurant for however long it takes if another shelter-in-place order comes from the Governor of California that will ban outdoor dining.
"We're waiting for Gavin Newsom to figure out if we're going to do a stay at home order or are we going to continue service. We're just patiently waiting to see what the word is," Konstin said.
In the Richmond District, the owner of Aziza said even outdoor heaters are not enough to warm the chill of another possible shelter in place order.
"If we lose the outdoor seating, we will shut down until everybody can come back to indoor dining," owner Mourad Lahlou said.
He said the cost to keep his restaurant open for takeout only would more than double what it would cost to close temporarily.
"You go from hopelessness to anger to a little bit of hope and resilience. You go through this range of emotion every day and it's exhausting."
Lahlou said he's at a breaking point, "It's either be caught in a fire or jump over the cliff. You got to choose your way out. A lot of us are in that situation.
He said many restaurants need financial help from the city, state or federal government or they won't survive.
In the Castro, Poesia, an Italian restaurant, added an outdoor patio in response to COVID-19 restrictions.
"This was storage. I clean it up," said owner Francesco Dippolito.
He plans to stay open even if only takeout is allowed.
"Right now, they allow us to stay open. We stay open. Tomorrow, they tell us to close. We close, hoping that we can do something better the day after," said Dippolito.
Back at John's Grill, the owner says he's optimistic his restaurant will survive.
"We've been pivoting all year going with the punches. We're ready for whatever is to come," Konstin said.
Lahlou said a group of restaurant and bar owners may sue the city if it bans outdoor service. If that happens, he said he plans to join that lawsuit.