There's a trio of permanent restaurant closures to report as we roll into the month of August and approach the sixth month of this pandemic. First up, marking the end of an era for a Dogpatch mainstay, Serpentine is closing its doors for good.
For a decade beginning in 2007, Serpentine was the offshoot of popular Mission spot Slow Club opened by owner Erin Rooney. Both shared an industrial-chic aesthetic and a popular burger on the menu, and were also known for great cocktails and delicious brunches. In 2017, SF chef Tommy Halvorson, who had been running a successful catering business nearby, bought Serpentine from Rooney, and now, as he explains to Eater, both businesses aren't sustainable as his PPP loan funds are running out.
Halvorson says that even before the pandemic lockdowns broadly impacted the restaurant industry locally and everywhere, he could see that Serpentine wasn't going to be a sustainable business. As crowded as the brunch scene still was, and and well loved as the place remained in the neighborhood, business wasn't what it once was and labor costs were continuing to soar.
There's hope that a new restaurant from Halvorson will get a chance to reinvigorate the space when the pandemic is over — the landlord is letting him hold onto the space despite deciding to close Serpentine permanently. But, he says, the skeleton crew he's been working with is already burnt out filling takeout orders which won't even allow him to break even come September.
Also in SF shuttering news, nine-year-old carnival-themed restaurant Straw in Hayes Valley is closing for good. As Eater reports, all the burgers on doughnut buns and other fanciful food items were not keeping the place afloat, and owners Ari and Maura Feingold have decided to pivot the business to catering only and shut down the Octavia Boulevard spot. The Feingolds also own Proposition Chicken nearby, and that business continues doing a steady takeout and delivery business.
And over in Oakland, the much-anticipated and much-delayed East Bay location of 4505 Burgers & BBQ is saying goodbye — at least for the time being — after just a year in business. It fits with a pattern of local restaurateurs having to close down their second or third locations as the pandemic drags on — Nopalito closed its popular Inner Sunset location in June, and the Delfina group decided back in March that its Valencia Street spot Locanda was going to have to close for good as well.
As the Chronicle reports, owner Ryan Farr says that despite being a 95-percent outdoor restaurant, the crowds were not showing up this summer the way they did last year after the place opened in June. So the decision has been made to close until at least next spring, and hopefully reopen then with more demand for outdoor dining.
Being a family-oriented restaurant in the heart of one of the Bay Area's virus hotspots — East Oakland is an epicenter of the pandemic, locally — it's pretty likely that the core clientele for 4505's Oakland location is just mostly staying sheltered in place.