Another day, another shuttered Bay Area restaurant. The Riddler, the esteemed SF champagne bar that matched bubbly with tater tot waffles, announced on Instagram this week they're waving goodbye to their Hayes Valley watering hole — and are now selling their wine selections at half price.
In its comparatively short three years on San Francisco's gastronomic scene, The Riddler had grown the adoration of many and quickly became a go-to stop in the city for people watching... while enjoying a sublime champagne. (As someone who, pre-pandemic, spent many an afternoon sat at one of their Edwardian sidewalk tables drinking sub-$17 bubblies and journaling in a Moleskin, I can attest to this sentiment.) But even its strong fanfare and rave reviews weren't enough to buoy it through these turbulent times.
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It is with great sadness that we share the news that we will be permanently closing both locations of The Riddler, in San Francisco and the West Village. Our motto at The Riddler is “Hello, old friend,” so you can’t imagine how hard it is for us to say goodbye. When we opened The Riddler five years ago in San Francisco and last year in the West Village, we wanted to create spaces where guests felt like they were settling in at a place they’ve always loved. Thank you for welcoming us into your lives, for celebrating your special occasions at our tables, for clinking glasses at our bar. We miss you all so much, and we’re devastated to close. As we wind down, today we’re selling our Champagne selection at 50% off list price, and we hope you’ll take the opportunity to pick up a bottle to toast with someone special to you. (Link in bio.) In the fall, we’re teaming up with @bonhams1793 on an auction of the beautiful design objects from our spaces, including our tables, champagne buckets, furniture, art, and lighting. Stay tuned. For you #100club members, we’re taking the sprit of The Riddler on the road with @unefemmewines, the champagne label I started this year celebrating women-made wines. Stay tuned there on insta for how you can work your way to that jacket, partnerships, Champagne events, and Champagne concierge services in the days ahead. Thank you to everyone who made this dream a reality, especially to the best team in the world. ❤️🍾❤️ Jen
“We just couldn't make the numbers work,” Owner Jen Pelka — who helmed the all-female team behind the beloved bar in SF — told Eater SF. Even though The Riddler offered takeout and received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, SFGATE reports it simply wasn’t enough to sustain the business.
Prior to the pandemic, The Riddler attracted patrons (myself included) to its 528 Laguna Street address with an array of quirky decor; people then chose to stay after sitting down because of delicious, finger-friendly cuisine and well-priced wines.
Alas: the above is now a thing of the past.
Though its physical locations are now closing, you can still get a taste — both literally and figuratively speaking — of The Riddler to enjoy at home. The bar is selling their lauded champagne selection at 50 percent off list prices, and "[hopes] you’ll take the opportunity to pick up a bottle to toast with someone special to you. Similarly, many of the capricious decorations that filled the space will go on auction to the public later this fall; international auctioneer Bonhams will spearhead the sale of The Riddlers selection of "tables, champagne buckets, furniture, art, and lighting."
A Yelp report earlier in August showed some 5,000 Bay Area businesses had either temporarily or permanently closed since the pandemic began. To boot, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association estimated back in April that 50 percent of San Francisco's restaurants aren't expected to come out of the other side of this pandemic open for business, according to ABC7.
Image: Instagram via @theriddlersf