Grand Opening, Grand Closing: Bay Area Makes and Breaks Restaurants in Mere Months

Elizabeth Tichenor Photography
Shanghai Restaurant lasted just four months.
Four months ago, we wrote about a brand new restaurant called Shanghai and how it was attempting to break the curse of a space that had previously been home to a five-month restaurant called Gingerfruit and a three-month restaurant with the most-appetizing name of Pudong. The chef came from the recently-closed Shanghai 1930 restaurant and brought a fair standard of fine Chinese cooking with him. Prices were high, but not outrageous compared to other restaurants within blocks of it on Market Street in the Castro.

This week, Inside Scoop SF reports that Shanghai has closed after four months.

See Also:
- Shanghai Tries to Break a Restaurant Curse

While this space had in recent years been declared a cursed one, it is right across the street from the Safeway on Market Street, right near an intersection that is the crossroads for several MUNI lines, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

The two-story and lunch-only Spire Restaurant opened in July 2010 in SoMa, right near the ballpark. It had a shadowy closure described as a remodel just six months later.

In 2010, former SFoodie contributor Robert Lauriston opened Locanda da Eva restaurant in a space on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley that was considered bad luck due to a high turnover of restaurants in the previous five years. Origen restaurant followed Locanda after it shuttered after four months and Lauriston told ISSF he was going back to tech writing; it closed after a nine month run and the space currently sits vacant.

While this spot is less advantageous in some ways than the one on Market Street, particularly where it concerns foot traffic, it was not in an inconvenient place for Berkeley residents with a car. Lauriston's analysis at the time was that it was not the right concept for the spot, but neither were the ones that preceded and followed him.

Izakaya Yuzuki has sat for 15 months in another one of San Francisco's so-called cursed locations, right on the corner of 18th and Guerrero Streets in the Mission. The small plate Japanese restaurant has had a good critical reception and appears to draw customers, but previous restaurants in the space have not been so lucky; Ebb & Flow only lasted six months in 2010, and the space sat empty until October 2011 after a planned Mission Beach Cafe offshoot was canceled.

These examples illustrate not only the stigma of a space that has been deemed cursed but the power of choice that Bay Area diners have and how little time a restaurant has to catch hold here wherever they are located. After a few years of imbalance, the rate of new openings has begun to outpace the number of closures, but this "grand opening, grand closing" phenomenon is very real and keeps the bar set extraordinarily high.

This also keeps things consistently exciting around these parts. We're the place where a really leftfield idea like a burrito-sized sushi roll or a cart dispensing crème brulée can take off instantly and kickstart a larger business plan than the owner may have originally dreamed.

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The management and servers at Shanghai were very nice, but unfortunately the food was not good.  

My husband and I were very glad to support a new restaurant in the former Gingerfruit/Mecca space, but we were very disappointed about our dining experience and we simply never went back.  We heard similar negative stories from friends and acquaintances who also ate at Shanghai.

For a restaurant to survive it must provide a good dining experience.  An attractive (if somewhat empty) space and polite staff do not compensate for mediocre or bad food. With so many excellent dining options in SF, a new restaurant really has to up its game or else it will not last.

David Owen
David Owen

Because SF doesnt have enough eateries...

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