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Battle Over Outdoor Dining at Fisherman's Wharf Threatens Longtime Seafood Supplier

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Scoma's, a renowned Fisherman's Wharf restaurant, plans to reopen with outdoor dining in an adjacent parking but that could force a local fisherman to close his business immediately.

The parking area at Pier 47 could be used for al fresco dining as soon as next week but that space is where Giuseppe Pennisi, of Pioneer Seafoods, has been selling fresh-caught fish right off his boat for years.

Now, the Port of San Francisco has ordered him to stop.

"They said our business was causing problems for Scoma's but there's no one even down here anymore except for people buying a few fish," Pennisi said.

Scoma's owner Tom Creeden says they've submitted plans to Port of San Francisco officials to use the parking space for outdoor dining.

"This was a 350-seat restaurant but, when you get down to it, the most people you're going to get (under new reopening rules) is 25 or so. It's gonna be difficult to even exist," Creeden said.

"The port has determined that the proximity of patio dining, valet parking and retail fish sales queuing is incompatible and is therefore temporarily suspending retail fish sales on this site," Michael Nerney, with the Port of San Francisco, told KPIX. Nerney sent notification to Pioneer Seafoods on Wednesday.

"There's plenty of space," Pennisi insisted. "There's no reason for this at all. This is a management-owner issue and rich people pushing around other people. That's all it is," he added.

"You cannot just come in and say you're gone. This isn't the way we do business in San Francisco -- it's certainly not the way we should do business here," said Erica Sandberg who buys fish at Pier 47. "Quite frankly, let's support a small business owner."

Pioneer Seafoods will have to shut down its operations by June 15 after being given less than five days notice. It would also be a blow to Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, which receives 3,000 pounds of fish from Pennisi every two weeks to feed the homeless.

"(Pennisi) has a huge heart and, for no other reason, he wants to make an impact in the community. He sees what's going on out here and he wants to do his part. He's been donating this fish," said Glide's George Gundry.

The Port of San Francisco sent KPIX a statement saying the Pier 47 apron is included in Scoma's lease.

"I hope Scoma's will give us a chance to work something out so that everyone can continue to work during this pandemic," said Joeleen Lambert Skinner, with Pioneer Seafoods.

If Scoma's Restaurant and the port do not reverse their decision, Pennisi will have to begin dismantling his family-owned business -- which has been operating for generations in San Francisco -- next week.

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