SAN FRANCISCO — Crews began dismantling security infrastructure around the Fairmont Hotel where the president had been staying, and Moscone Center Friday evening.
The conference may be officially over, but APEC-related closures are still having a big impact on small businesses both inside and outside the high-security zone.
Security checkpoints, fences and concrete barriers were still driving away customers at Novela, a bar and lounge on Mission Street.
Partner Arash Ghanadan said the venue would normally be packed on a Friday night.
He also owns two other lounges, Madarae in SoMa and Barbarossa in North Beach. In total, he estimates $250,000 in losses.
"I think knowing what I know today, if I knew this maybe 10 days ago, I would have probably shut down all the businesses," he said. "We had a lot of high hopes that we would get a lot of people coming in again because we host many conferences, and they're very different. We had a lot of hopes, and this is just not the same."
In fact, he said on Monday night, Novela only had about a dozen customers, and they closed early.
Several large groups canceled their buyouts during the week. Ghanadan also dramatically reduced his staffing.
The city promised big business for APEC and 20,000 visitors.
"If you're a small business in San Francisco I don't think you'll see the benefit of APEC. If you're a large hotel, if you're a rental company where they rented a lot of the fences and stuff, I think you will see the benefit, obviously," he said. "We tried to reach out to the city, to the mayor's office to let them know that not all businesses are seeing the impact that you just mentioned."
Ghanadan wrote a letter to Mayor London Breed highlighting the negative impacts and great financial losses.
It read in part:
I kindly request your urgent attention to this matter and advocate for a structured financial support program, in the form of direct grants or other measures, specifically designed for small hospitality and nightlife businesses in the security zone or right outside of it affected by APEC. Such assistance will not only help us recover from the losses but also contribute to the long-term resilience of our local business community.
As a small business owner who has weathered the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and still seeing impact from the ongoing work-from-home trend, high crime rate and the migration of San Franciscans out of San Francisco the additional disruptions caused by APEC are threatening to push my businesses to the brink.
Ghanadan said he hasn't heard back from the mayor.
"I had the city's small business office executive reaching out to me, kind of hearing my concerns and agreeing that this is the situation but no further action," he said.
Addressing the impact of APEC on businesses, Mayor London Breed acknowledged earlier this week the difficulties faced by local establishments during this time of increased security.
"Thank you for your patience and your understanding because it was not easy to get around in the city. We have 21 leaders of 21 economies and it required lots of increased security like nothing we've ever experienced," Breed said.
In Fisherman's Wharf, Abacá Restaurant never saw crowds of people at the contemporary Filipino-Californian restaurant. Chef and owner Francis Ang said he also saw a storm of cancellations, which forced him to close to the public for two days and cancel a ticketed collaboration dinner with another chef on Wednesday.
"Actually, we're still getting hit, what we normally have for brunch tomorrow, typically we would do at least reservations of 100-150, and we'd get a lot of walk-ins. I think right now we're 30, 20?" he said.
On Friday night, when they reopened, the restaurant had hoped for a bounce back. But the dining room was less than half full, and 20 parties canceled around dinner time, likely due to the rain, Ang said.
"Restaurants have really thin margins. For us to be closed certain days, it really affects the overall health of the business," he added.
In fact, he's looking at $150,000 in losses due to APEC.
"If you can come out support your favorite restaurants, small business, and that's all we can do, that's all we can ask for," he said.
KPIX 5 also reached out to the mayor's office and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development regarding the concerns of small businesses, but have not received a response.
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