In a microcosm of what is going on at San Francisco restaurants that remain open for delivery and takeout, beloved brunch spot Zazie in Cole Valley finds itself losing too much money every week to stay open during the pandemic lockdown.
Co-owner Jennifer Bennett — who sold all but a 25-percent stake in the business to a couple of longtime employees back in January — spoke to Eater to explain the predicament. Bennett says she has already sunk $100,000 of her own cash into keeping the business running, with takeout orders only generating about $25,000 per week and payroll alone being more than that.
This is despite having regular lines for these takeout orders the last several weeks — without sit-down meals and wine being sold, Zazie's revenue was down 75 percent.
By closing temporarily, she explains, the employees can collect unemployment, and she can hope for the best with a federal Paycheck Protection Program loan that Zazie has already been approved for — but hasn't received because the funds ran out. If the PPP loan comes through, Zazie may reopen for more takeout.
But for now, it's nowhere near penciling, and Bennett describes the business as an "endless" money pit.
Zazie is nearly 30 years old, having been opened by Catherine Opoix in 1992. Opoix sold the bistro to Bennett, its general manager of five years, in 2005, and only this year did Bennett decide she'd had enough. As Eater explains, she lives in Calistoga these days, and continues to run a restaurant there, Calistoga Kitchen, that she bought in 2017.
The story of Zazie weathering this pandemic is likely a familiar one to many restaurant owners who have been trying to stay open and keep at least some of their employees on the books.