Iconic Cafe to close after blaming empty offices for decline
Following a recent bankruptcy filing, San Francisco’s beloved Blue Front Cafe on Haight Street will not be resuming operations, marking the end of an era for the institution that served Mediterranean fare for over 30 years.
The Blue Front Cafe, as it was initially known, opened its doors at 1430 Haight St. in 1961, offering customers its signature shawarma, gyros, and kebabs. Co-owner Issam Khoury confirmed the restaurant’s closure after filing for bankruptcy, stating they have been shut down since November and will not reopen.
Mr. Khoury attributed the closure primarily to the significant decline in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shift to remote work and empty downtown offices decimated the restaurant’s catering business, which previously generated $10,000 daily revenue, he explained. Co-owner Hani Khoury echoed these sentiments, confirming the indefinite closure.
While a reduction in rent from $12,400 pre-pandemic to $6,500 currently offered some relief, the financial burden remained insurmountable for the Khourys. This was further illustrated by an eviction notice posted on the premises, documenting two months of outstanding rent totaling $13,000. Mr. Khoury, however, maintained he had not yet seen the notice.
Regrettably, this closure is not entirely unexpected. Even before the pandemic, Blue Front Cafe faced financial struggles. In 2019, the restaurant reduced its operating hours, citing construction disruptions and the growing popularity of food delivery apps that impacted its margins.
The closing of Blue Front Cafe represents a significant loss for the Haight-Ashbury community, where it served as a cornerstone for decades. While the reasons for its demise are multifaceted, the economic challenges brought on by the pandemic undeniably played a critical role.