An Outer Sunset restaurant is complaining that the SF Department of Public Works and PG&E showed little sympathy for their small business in demanding the removal of a parklet they spent thousands of dollars to construct.
As restaurants across San Francisco struggle to pay back debts and recover from pandemic shutdowns, Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant in the Sunset is dealing with a new problem thanks to PG&E. The utility informed the restaurant in May that they would need to remove a parklet they installed in order for underground pipe upgrades to occur. As restaurant owner Shuai Yang tells ABC 7, a PG&E rep initially said they'd be sending over a carpenter to help disassemble the wooden dining platform, but they never did.
Then, last week, the Department of Public Works posted a notice on the business demanding the immediate removal of the parklet — which Yang said he complied with, tearing down the structure himself over the weekend. The construction of the parklet cost him $6,000, he said.
Yang said he was speaking out because he feels like, after everything else in the past year, he was treated unfairly by PG&E, which should have footed the bill to remove and then reconstruct the parklet.
"They are a giant company," Yang says to ABC 7. "I hope they have some sympathy for small businesses like us. And also I don't want this to happen to anybody else."
Yang first posted his grievance to Instagram, saying to PG&E, "Where were u guys last year when we [didn't] have the parklet, also I don't think u guys just plan this project this month, at least give us some heads up and talk to your loyal customers."
He added, "We [spent] our own money to [build] this parklet for our customers and community during the pandemic."
Yang and his family have owned and operated Old Mandarin Islamic restaurant since 1997, specializing in Chinese-Muslim cuisine.
Eater reached out to PG&E following Yang's post, and the company said that it is in the process of upgrading its natural gas pipes underneath Vicente Street, where the restaurant sits. The project is meant to make natural gas service more cost effective, PG&E says.
"We understand how challenging the pandemic has been on many restaurant owners, and we continue to work with the City of San Francisco to find a solution that gives us access to our facilities and minimizes impact to businesses with parklets," the company said in a statement.
But Yang says he tried reaching PG&E multiple times after originally hearing about the utility project to figure out when it might begin disrupting his business, but never was able to reach anyone.
Supervisor Gordon Mar tells ABC 7, "I think PG&E clearly dropped the ball," and he says he's asked the company to make this right.
As Yang tells Eater, "If something was an emergency, I’m willing to help, whatever I can do for them. But I’m a customer for PG&E, too. I paid all my bills last year even though it was a struggling time for a small business. I paid for everything. I just wished PG&E could talk to their customers. Maybe appreciate us a little."
Photo: Crystal G./Yelp