Both Lou’s Fish Shack and Pompei’s Grotto have been closed the whole the pandemic, and they won’t reopen, as they’re both taking exit deals to relinquish their properties to the Port of San Francisco.
You’d be forgiven for not even knowing about two Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants named Pompei’s Grotto and Lou’s Fish Shack, because, well, San Francisco locals are not exactly their target clientele. These are two tourist trap seafood restaurants along the Wharf; a respectable line of business, but not one that endears much loyalty or recognition among locals. And that may be why both closed and stopped paying rent in March 2020, and have not reopened since.
Neither will ever reopen. The Chronicle reports that both have had had their leases terminated, after the Board of Supervisors approved their termination at this past Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
These are not normal restaurant leases, their leases are with the government agency Port of San Francisco. As seen above, the two were behind on rent by a combined $1 million-plus ($507,765 for Lou’s Pier 47, and $523,464.23 for Pompei’s Grotto, respectively). And since they’re dealing with a government authority rather than a private landlord, they’ve been able to unload this debt under very agreeable terms of $150,000-$200,000 and simply walk away.
Sure, it’s a loss. Pompei’s Grotto opened in 1946, Lou’s Fish Shack has been around since 1988. While these are not beloved local brands like Anchor Steam or the Cliff House where the local public writ large is up in arms that they be preserved, they are still restaurant closures.
“I’m very disappointed,” Pompei’s Grotto manager Michael Carden told the Chronicle. “Because I was under the impression that the Port was going to work with us and the rest of the restaurants there. And, apparently, they couldn’t or wouldn’t.”
Well, they would have. A Port of SF spokesperson told the Chronicle that the agency was and is offering rent relief deals, but only for restaurants who were trying to stay open. Those who just sat closed for three-plus years are not eligible for rent relief arrangements.
The Port of SF hopes to make both locations restaurants again, as tourism in the Wharf has rebounded pretty respectably. The Port’s spokesperson Justin Berton said in a statement that “Foot traffic in Fisherman’s Wharf is returning to near pre-pandemic levels and this presents a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs who have always been eager to pursue spaces along the waterfront.”
Image: Chenelle D. via Yelp