San Francisco Restaurants Forced to Close Due to Wildfires

15 Sep 2020

Restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area have begun closing due to the hazardous air quality because of the California wild fires, reports Eater.

Sorrel, a restaurant in Pac Heights, has temporarily shut down outdoor dining just as it was beginning to fill its reservations again. “We’ve pivoted to so many different models, trying to figure out how to survive, and how to make it work,” said chef Alex Hong. “Wildfire season is the cherry on top.”

Black Jet Baking Co. in Bernal Heights is making decisions on whether to open or not on a daily basis, according to the report. Last week, the bakery baked on Wednesday, closed early on Thursday, closed for the entirety of Friday, opened on Saturday to hand out preorders, and then closed again on Sunday. Owner Gillian Shaw said that she checks Purple Air, a real time air-quality monitoring platform, “manically,” but finds it difficult to sift through what it actually means. “What’s your breaking point? The orange, red, purple language [of Purple Air] is baffling, and there’s a sense of relief to calling it, and closing for the day. But you still have to make the choice tomorrow, and the next day,” she said.

Those looking to local or state government for guidance are out of luck. “We can’t rely on public officials to tell us what to do,” Nicholas Cho, owner of Wrecking Ball Coffee told Eater. “It would be great to get local and state guidance on how to handle these things. Aside from the air quality index tiers, the relevant government bodies should say what’s healthy or not. But we’re taking control of the situation for ourselves and our employees, who are left to fend for themselves.”

Cho and his team have set up their own protocols for shutting down: anytime the air quality index goes above 150, the baristas make the call on when they close.

During a San Francisco Department of Health press conference, Deputy Director Dr. Naveena Bobba told Eater that the city doesn’t have any plans to officially shut down outdoor dining, or any guidance for restaurants attempting to serve customers outside. “That said, we are urging our San Francisco residents to stay indoors,” she said. “It’s the healthiest thing to do.” However, she acknowledged that “it’s a personal choice” to stay in, not a legal requirement. Full Story

Related: Taco Truck Feeds Undocumented Workers Amid CA WildfiresGhost Kitchens Pop Up in the Age of COVID.