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Mar-18-2013

De Place closes after only three weeks; cites hiring woes as the reason


Photo by @trichris

There was a lively discussion a few weeks ago about the new Asian restaurant at 21st and Geary called, simply, De Place.

The former Video Cafe was completely renovated and modernized by the new owners, resulting in a large space with tv screens, fountains, ample seating and a giant crawfish statue that greeted diners at the door.

But De Place was very short lived. Blog reader Catherine tweeted us the photo of the sign up on the door of De Place, explaining why they are now closed.

“In our three weeks of business, the hiring environment has proven to be a major challenge and it hasn’t improve [sic] and we are not able to enlist the staffs than can assist us with our operation,” the sign reads.

De Place was run by the owners of Chinatown’s City View Restaurant on Commercial Alley near Kearny Street, known for its dim sum.

Did you get a chance to dine there? Leave a comment to let us know.

Sarah B.


Photo by @ghost_wolves

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10:04 am | Posted under Business, Food | 95 comments
  1. Andrew said (03/18/13; 10:33 am):

    How did a group of experienced restauranteurs manage to blow what must have been hundreds of thousands, if not millions, renovating a decrepit building only to realize there wasn’t enough local staff to support it? None of this, including the ridiculous name and interior redesign makes any sense.

  2. kayvaan said (03/18/13; 10:42 am):

    no way. not a chance this is the real story.

  3. SFNative415 said (03/18/13; 10:43 am):

    I get the feeling there is more to it than just hiring. There are enough out of work people that need jobs, that makes me think something is sketchy. Could it be something to do with upgrading the building to be sold, under the guise of another entity paying for it for tax reasons? /dramatic music Dun-dun-duuuuuuun!

    Ah well, the non-conspiracy theory side of me says the name did the business no favors. :)

  4. Steve said (03/18/13; 11:21 am):

    Good. De(s) Place stunk anyways. Just go to Panda Express if you want to eat “Chinese food” for less than half the price.

  5. Rachel said (03/18/13; 11:27 am):

    Ugh, sad to see this new business fail and leave us with another vacant storefront (or, an updated version of a previously vacant storefront). It seems like there’s got to be more to this story…. Strange.

  6. Local said (03/18/13; 12:19 pm):

    Went inside yesterday to see what it was. Dim Sum, other dishes as well. They were not crowded. They spent a fortune on the renovation.
    Did they think they didn’t have to pay minimum wage? Did they think everyone would flock there when there’s how many of the same offerings in a
    10 block radius?

  7. Mark said (03/18/13; 12:29 pm):

    ??!?? We just went there yesterday. The food was pretty good, from their prices I imagine they are trying to compete with the Ton Kiang, Yang Sing, Hong Kong Lounge level of dim sum. There seemed to be more than enough workers, as we ordered about 8 dishes and had a hustle of about 3 workers delivering back and forth to tables. I wonder if they are talking about a lack weekday workers? As Andrew mentioned, they put a lot of $$ into the renovation and it makes you wonder the real story behind them closing.

  8. mark t said (03/18/13; 12:32 pm):

    It’s really strange to read the comments for this new closure.

    Most commenters are pretty sad when places like the Video Cafe or any other business closes down in our neighborhood and are pretty bummed to see empty storefronts around.

    But when this Chinese restaurant closes down, there is no pity or empathy, only suspicion. (besides Rachel)

    Is it because they might have made a bad business decision? Because if so, according to some of the commenters, we should shame them! Not only are these business owners already losing money from their short tenure, but they also get to be publicly criticized from neighbors in the Richmond.

    Way to represent, folks! I already feel bad for the next tenant.

  9. Edward said (03/18/13; 1:39 pm):

    Not buying the staffing excuse either. They didn’t even promote their grand opening, they just sort of quietly opened so as to stay under the radar. Almost as if they wanted to fail. Based on the YELP reviews, it seems like the food was lousy and overpriced. Also, how many more Chinese food restaurants can one neighborhood sustain anyways?

    As an unrelated example of the sad and odd state of our neighborhood, does anyone notice that there are 4 different ice cream/crepe/sweet tea businesses that operate out of the SAME building at the corner of Geary and 33rd? None of them ever seem busy. WTF!!?

    I wish we had better leadership in the Richmond District.

  10. Dan said (03/18/13; 2:26 pm):

    Would have been fine if they OPENED A DECENT DAMN TAQUERIA OUT HERE. *ahem*

  11. Marc said (03/18/13; 2:35 pm):

    A few thing:

    Those places at Geary and 33rd do crazy businesses with students at lunch hour, more than enough for them to survive on.

    Lots of restaurants have “soft openings” before the grand opening, so I wouldn’t read too much into that.

    That said, the idea De Place couldn’t find employees is bordering on the bizarre. I aye there once. It was so-so. Hong Kong Lounge had set a high bar.

    Finally, as I have said here before, there are tons of different types of Chinese food, so saying Geary had enough is sort of odd. It is a massive country with myriad cultures and cuisines. Eat at Hong Kong Lounge, Sichuan Home, and Dong Bei Mama, all within a few blocks of each other, and tell me they have much in common.

  12. Edward said (03/18/13; 3:16 pm):

    Marc I have no doubt that you are correct about the diversity of Chinese cuisine, and I am sure that those restaurants you mentioned are great. I will try them if they have vegetarian options. I think we can agree that no matter how great the food or service, there must be a demand to meet the supply. Restaurants like Hong Kong Lounge, Sichuan Home and Dong Bei Mama look they they are thriving, and probably for good reason. However, other restaurants in the Richmond seem to struggle. I would like to see a more diverse selection of restaurants because I think the neighborhood would be better for it. Too often we drive into other neighborhoods to eat.

    As for the candy stores at 33rd and Geary, your explanation is a good one. We only walk by those places during the evening or on the weekend when school is out. During those times there is nobody in there.

  13. tarniv said (03/18/13; 3:17 pm):

    @Mark T

    I don’t feel the criticisms are unwarranted here. This isn’t a neighbourhood business that had been around for years. It had been around for three weeks, and no one had developed any long lasting affinity to it. The people who ran it seemed to willfully keep the neighbourhood out — they refused to even acknowledge what kind of restaurant they were opening, or do any sort reach out to the area. I live two blocks away, and didn’t even know it had oepned until last week. Their poor excuse for closing itself is almost critical of the neighbourhood, saying they couldn’t find people (which I don’t believe for a second unless they were trying to find people to work [illegally] for just tips).

    The whole thing is bizarre — the interior, the attitudes, the excuse for closing, the name. We all saw it was going to fail… if you open a Chinese restaurant in the Richmond now, you have to find a way to compete with the dozen other Chinese restaurants a short walk from you. Their attempt at fusion food, combined with a bizarre interior and high prices was never going to work.

    I hope the remodel doesn’t fully go to waste, and a restaurant with competent management moves in. Preferably serving something that the neighbourhood isn’t already completely saturated with.

  14. thrash said (03/18/13; 4:34 pm):

    While I appreciate the diversity of the Richmond, I think it’s a bit of a mistake – said in this thread or the thread of the “de Place”‘s opening “that it’s mostly a Chinese Neighborhood”. Look at the line at Lou’s. Look at the Line at House of Bagels on a weekend.Stare at the SRO of Chomp and Swig most nights. And then open another Shabu / Crawfish or Dim Sum restaurant that the neighborhood is saturated with and wonder why it fails. There’s a PILE of cash sitting on the table for whoever opens a decent Tacqueria, and probably a good sized one for a mid-range Indian takeout Indian Restaurant.

  15. thrash said (03/18/13; 4:44 pm):

    Too Band I saw the faded “Liar Liar” Jim Carrey Movie Standee in the dumpster when they were doing the renovation, they could prop it back up and open the video cafe right back up, “Wings of Heaven” with a side order of Pancakes!

  16. Brian C. said (03/18/13; 4:47 pm):

    Curiouser and curiouser. The staffing excuse seems as satisfactory as the grammar in that sign.

    That said, I’m not sure what future transaction could shield tax liability. Spending all the $ making that look as nice as it does, is too good of a way to lose money, imo. They probably just decided it’s not going to be as profitable in the short run as they had planned and they will take a loss to cover their other business profits but “stop the bleeding” for a bit.

    Doesn’t sound like they are selling the place though. but let me just throw out that I would love it if there is some complicated nefarious scheme. Maybe with Eric Mar, Ed Lee and gobs of taxpayer money. A Machiavellian masterpiece of mismanaged meal-making? Mealymouthed muckraking?

  17. thrash said (03/18/13; 5:41 pm):

    In case anyone is wondering I just went by and the giant Crawfish is GONE.

  18. Sue said (03/18/13; 6:08 pm):

    Personally, I think they should have thrown two to three stories of housing on top of retail on the bottom and I don’t understand why they did not. Also, I was very curious during all those months of construction. When it first neared completion, it seemed like a sure-to-fail nightclub that would have succeeded in SoMa. And then I saw the menu, and that underscored my belief that it would not succeed. There is no reason, however, why someone cannot open a successful restaurant at that location.

  19. Debbie said (03/18/13; 6:34 pm):

    If they are not selling the place, and lets’ say renting, can Video Cafe owner Nancy open the restaurant again in the place? The reason of Video Cafe closure was that they couldn’t pay for the upgrade for the wheelchair access.

  20. Serge said (03/18/13; 7:03 pm):

    Debbie:

    Video Cafe also defaulted on the loan. It was sold to the bank and the owner did not want to remain a tenant. So there were other reasons for their closing.

  21. Patrick said (03/18/13; 7:24 pm):

    Gordos isn’t a good taqueria?

  22. Paul said (03/18/13; 7:30 pm):

    Gee just pay a few bucks above minimum wage and you won’t have any staffing issues. Problem solved.

  23. Sam Foster said (03/18/13; 8:20 pm):

    That’s too bad it failed. I hate seeing empty store fronts in the ‘hood.

    That being said, until the sign for “De Place” went in, I assumed it was another Chase or Citibank, so maybe don’t remodel a restaurant to look like a bank? Also, they couldn’t find staff? Don’t restaurants usually hire staff before they open to train and prepare?

    Good luck to the next occupants of the space!

  24. kayvaan said (03/18/13; 11:06 pm):

    mark t – We’ll see. I would have been sympathetic if they’d made a good faith effort to remain open and serve the community. But three weeks? This is likely either something shady or just incompetence. I have sympathy for neither. If there really was some mitigating circumstance I will gladly offer sympathy. But I doubt it.

  25. ron said (03/18/13; 11:43 pm):

    Smells fishy. Either shady or incompetent, as so many others said. Couldn’t find (low wage illegal workers to work as nearly-slave) labor? How does anyone spend tons of money in a potential business and end up so far off the mark about the chance of making profits?

    I don’t understand how these things happen. Sometimes I think it’s part of “if you somehow have a lot of money, this does not imply you have any special skills or intelligence.” Or this one “if I make it look great, it HAS to work”.

    I wish I could think of what shady story would fit here. Show more losses than actually spent, via fake receipts for actual work, and offset against other business profits? Open it up later under a different name, with this false start solely for tax reasons?

    Similar things I never understood: Al Masri on Balboa can make a profit, and believes itself to be a restaurant? The restaurant on Balboa formerly known as Best Panda, on Balboa at 42nd: it had signage for a second business on the right side of the building. On Google street view it still shows as “Son See Super”. What’s up with that?

    I appreciate that Mark, comment #8, is trying to be respectful. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the love.

  26. jimbo said (03/18/13; 11:49 pm):

    No way! Can’t hire people? What a joke. This is some kind of money laundering operation of the Chinese mafia. Just like so many of the other Chinese “businesses” around here.

  27. renee said (03/19/13; 12:28 am):

    This is bizarre. I live near this (de) place, and those of us who do, had to endure MONTHS of loud, disruptive construction, including street drilling that lasted, at times, until 1 a.m. (on weeknights). I do not for a minute believe that the owners spent so long and so much money to rennovate–only to throw in the towel after just 3 weeks of supposedly trying to find staff. You don’t start looking for staff right before you open–you begin looking in advance. And as other posters have said, there are enough people (including experienced restaurant workers) looking for jobs who could fill these positions. I was expecting them to have a Grand Opening, with a lion dance and firecrackers, as many of the other restaurants around here have done shortly after they’ve opened….but nothing. This is too bad. As much as we don’t need yet another chinese restaurant here, they seem to have done a nice job of remodeling. Something smells very fishy.

  28. richmondreader said (03/19/13; 11:41 am):

    Ron @ #25. At one point when Best Panda first opened (could be 10 years ago? When the elderly parents were in charge for sure), they briefly opened a vegetable/seafood market next door (thus the Son See signage). My folks even shopped there once.

    However, that business didn’t last long and it was probably not that lucrative so they shut it down and used the empty space as storage.

    Those of you who went to Best Panda when if first opened, will recall that the restaurant was initially just the room where the cash register is. The connecting room was actually a separate storefront that the owners eventually knocked down to accommodate all the business they were receiving.

    As for De Place, I never tried it but I was pretty much discouraged to do so based on the Yelp reviews. Of course, the issue is more than just finding help. As for Chinese restaurants, the big issue isn’t quantity but quality. Most of the better Chinese restaurants are now located in the Peninsula and East Bay. I can’t tell you how many times my folks complain about the lousy overpriced Chinese food that is in the Richmond (I am looking at you, Ton Kiang – we went there when they were a hole in the wall & HK Lodge).

  29. Derek said (03/19/13; 12:16 pm):

    Just…too…suspicious…

  30. J said (03/19/13; 12:20 pm):

    There is something fishy going on for sure.

    The main thing for me is the fact that the windows were completely frosted over. You had no idea what was even in there unless you looked through the front door. That is a sign that they were not interested in it being successful. A good restaurant shows that there are people eating inside…this is why many restaurants seat you near the windows…so that people outside get a sense that this is a happening place. Unless you are the French laundry, why keep the windows frosted?

    They never posted the menus outside. Most successful restaurants post at least SOMETHING outside for people walking by to check out.

    The owners of this place, as I understand it, own a restaurant in Chinatown. They are successful business people. The idea that they would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on this, and fail at hiring staff, is ludicrous.

    My suspicion, and this is a suspicion, is that this is some sort of flipping operation…they are flipping a restaurant like real estate moguls will buy a old house, renovate it, and sell it for some huge amount. They probably opened it only for a few weeks to fulfill some city regulations that were designed to prevent that, although I have no idea what that would be.

    I suspect they are surely in negotiations with some high end restauranteur to sell it and make a healthy profit.

    Just a suspicion.

    But you don’t put frosted windows on a place with such a huge street facing and want it to be successful at the same time.

  31. mike said (03/19/13; 12:31 pm):

    De Ad

  32. Egg said (03/19/13; 2:11 pm):

    The place suffered from a serious identity crisis.

    Is it an upscale gourmet eatery for a smaller intimate crowd?
    Is it a dim sum place affordable for families and large groups to dine and waiting outside for their table number to be called?
    With the Chinese character for “tea” as the logo, is it a place to sip tea quietly with light snacks?
    It doesn’t seem to be a casual dining place with spaghetti entrees or Pho noodle soups.

    The frosted windows are a questionable feature.

  33. Marc said (03/19/13; 2:30 pm):

    The sign in the window at the late De Place appears to have been removed, at least as of 1:30pm this afternoon, when I walked by.

    Perhaps an alternate explanation will replace it, but it seems weirder still to close a place down and leave no sign at all.

  34. Shaggy Dog said (03/19/13; 3:09 pm):

    I agree with #30 – something isn’t adding up. These were experienced restaurateurs that renovated this place. You don’t shut it down after three weeks. Eric Mar has been desperate to get storefronts filled in the Richmond. I am really interested to know what incentives his office and/or the city of San Francisco offered the owners. My guess is that Eric Mar, Rose Pak and Ed Lee have a back door agreement with the City View Restaurant in China Town (the operators behind De Place) to make a tidy profit on this storefront. I am really interested to see what happens next.

  35. Marc said (03/19/13; 3:49 pm):

    I do hope the Chronicle looks into what happened.

  36. Shady People said (03/19/13; 4:52 pm):

    @jimbo I don’t know why you think they are Chinese mafia, but man!! you need to stop watching them gangster movies!

    @j Olive Garden never posted their menu outside. Neither do some other places and they are doing just FINE! If you think a successful restaurant is to put a menu outside, then I’m sorry to say you are wrong.

  37. ron said (03/19/13; 5:20 pm):

    Richmond Reader #28, thanks!

    Another thing that seems fishy to me: if the business was having problems, I would expect the owners to try multiple things before shutting it down, such as: reduce the hours of operations, slim the menu and offering, expand them, a marketing push, work with less staff if needed, close part of the space. I don’t see why someone would give up so quickly after such a large investment.

    A friend of mine speculated that they obtained a business loan, only spent part of it, and are using the remaining funds for ???.

    RE #30 and #33, menu on the outside, and transparent windows: neither of these things are “mandatory” for success, but they are the types of things that help. The comparison to Olive Garden is off the base: Olive Garden airs television commercials for marketing, and has many marketing campaigns, and has national name recognition. It’s a different league from a one-place restaurant in the Outer Richmond. If your business is struggling, you’re wise to try numerous things for success.

  38. LLCoolJew said (03/19/13; 6:25 pm):

    I’ve lived in MidRich* for 13 years, and sadly for me, I don’t care much for Asian cuisine. This has left me with far fewer dining options than most, and I was secretly hoping that my culinary salvation would finally arrive at the corner of 21st and Geary. Not this time, friends! But maybe next.

    However…I, too, am disappointed by the news, and feel that these types of abrupt openings/closures can dissuade others from bringing new business to our neighborhood. I’m beyond disgruntled that the Walgreens and Alexandria Theater are still vacant, but don’t get me started on that. I truly had high hopes for the new project at 21st and Geary, and am both concerned and unsettled that in three weeks, “De Place” has emerged as a De-bacle! Grrr.

    *MidRich is a new term I have recently coined to better describe the area from Park Presidio to, say, 25th Avenue, which– quite fairly, isn’t far enough west to accurately be considered the “Outer” Richmond. MidRich, a name akin to SoMa and NoPa, makes me feel far more cool, and really rolls off the tongue quite nicely. Feel free to adopt this term in your own vernacular, and do spread the word to others. -LL

  39. Rob S. said (03/19/13; 6:48 pm):

    The Richmond has simply gotten sick of the chinese cuisine. There are dozens of places to get chinese food here, and I’m just talking about the area where”De place” opened. It was a brilliant idea renovating the building because it stands out. Now heres the challenge: A BUSINESS OTHER THAN CHINESE FOOD. (taqueria would be great.)

  40. Marc said (03/19/13; 6:58 pm):

    I keep wanting to back away from some of this discussion, because it’s getting disgusting at some points, but I want to weigh in that “the Richmond” isn’t “sick” of Chinese food. Hong Kong Lounge is thriving. Shanghai Dumpling is seeing longer and longer lines with each passing month. There was no restaurant quite like Sichuan Home when it opened in the immediate area, and there may not be a restaurant in the city like Dong Bei Mama.

    Yes, the area would benefit from other sorts of restaurants, but don’t blame Chinese restauranteurs for opening Chinese restaurants — blame other people for not trying their hand at other cuisines.

  41. renee said (03/19/13; 7:05 pm):

    Hi there, LL. Actually, the label “mid-Richmond” has been been around for at least 25 years and it encompasses the streets you mentioned! So, your thinking is in line with those who began using it all those years ago.

  42. Richmond Resident said (03/19/13; 8:19 pm):

    Regarding “MidRich”. Maybe we need to have a “NoRich” for the north side of the Richmond. The counterpart would be a “SoRich” for the south side of the Richmond. I guess Geary would be the likely dividing line between NoRich and SoRich. It seems to be that property values in NoRich are higher then SoRich. Folks might wonder why their proper values are lower if they’re SoRich.

  43. LLCoolJew said (03/19/13; 10:06 pm):

    LOL… NoRich/SoRich.. LOL… I like your style!!

    Renee: Yes, I agree about “mid-Richmond” already in circulation. But what I am proposing is a two syllable solution. MidRich. Like NoPa. Or SoMa. It’s fresh. It’s hip. It’s now. Just sayin’.

    But let’s all get back to complaining about that dreadful restaurant closure! It’s weird, it’s alarming, and its rather embarrassing for the neighborhood, if you ask me. So please, bring me something tasty there instead!! My vote goes to cuisine from a different continent. Thank you :)

    LL in MidRich

  44. mel said (03/19/13; 10:20 pm):

    renee: I have always heard of it as “Central Richmond.” I am smack dab in the middle of it.

    Richmond Resident: I initially read your comment for the northern part as “MoRich” which really works with SeaCliff and the Lake District. Made me chuckle.

    I do hate that De Place closed down so fast, but like many I was unaware that the place was open, except for one night I was at New World Market and saw the “open” sign. It certainly had an identity crisis. If it is rented/bought by someone else, I think it would be great if the place became an upscale karaoke bar at night (one without private rooms and open audience and participation). I love my Blarney Stone, but now and then I pine for something different but the only thing in short crawling distance is Trader’s (no likely) and creepy dive bars.If it also vittles, it would also provide a valued service. Daytime could also offer food like breakfast plates.

  45. mel said (03/19/13; 10:31 pm):

    Marc: The Chron covered it today, but no investigative reporting. However, kudos to Sarah for the Chron acknowledging she broke the story. Also kudos to ghost-wolves for his/her pic mention.

    http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2013/03/19/the-richmonds-de-place-closes-after-weeks-of-business/

  46. SFBear said (03/20/13; 12:12 am):

    Imagine this scenario:
    - A company takes a business loan to open a restaurant
    - The company leases commercial space, spends the funds to remodel the space
    - The restaurant fails
    - The company defaults on the loan
    - The failed company owners receive a nice kickback from the owner of the newly remodeled property

    It’s not that simple, obviously. Banks aren’t stupid and they demand collateral for the loan, and/or proof that the owners of the company invests their own money as well. Still, in some scenarios this scheme may work.

  47. Rachel said (03/20/13; 8:27 am):

    Just wanted to chime back in… This Richmonder is not “sick” of Chinese food or any Asian food! Our neighborhood has an amazing variety of restaurants from myriad cultures. We are lucky! I can get Russian or Irish baked goods, Dim Sum on demand, deli sandwiches, Hong Kong style dessert, and other foods from around the world, from high-end places all the way down to tiny low-end mom and pops.

  48. alyxandr said (03/20/13; 10:40 am):

    Masonic to 19th Ave. is the “Inner Richmond” according to the SF Planning Dept. and most of its residents — no need for any fresh, hip, stupid new Realtoresque nicknames, thanks.

  49. richmondreader said (03/20/13; 10:41 am):

    I know someone keeps asking for a Tacqueria but realistically, at the price point that Mexican food is offered, do you think opening a tacqueria in that particular space is feasible? The rent alone would require the sale of a lot of Mexican food.

    Speaking of sad, what about the row of empty storefronts on 6th and Balboa? Javaholics (home to Eric Mar’s monthly get togethers) shut down abruptly so there’s only one coffee house on that street (Cinderella’s which is closed on Mondays so that means no coffee on Mondays!). Half the block on 6th is filled with empty storefronts. Now those storefronts can house a tacqueria because the space isn’t cavernous.

    What are they doing about that strip of deserted storefronts?

  50. cf said (03/20/13; 10:48 am):

    Why shouldn’t anyone think this is the same fake-GDP construction money at work as in the Ghost Cities of China? (see: 60 minutes: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50142079n ) after all, China basically owns the USA now

  51. ALY said (03/20/13; 1:12 pm):

    Not much of a loss, but seriously bizarre all around.
    Personally I would love something like Squat & Gobble on Irving and 9th… The space is big enough and it could attract a ton of people both from MidRich ;) (love this one!) and Lake districts.

  52. 4thGenRichmond said (03/20/13; 3:44 pm):

    MidRich and Lake District? Is that what you recent arrivals want to rename the Mid Richmond and Lake Street to?

    As to the restaurant closing, I have a feeling this might have been a way to cook books from the other operation and not store the data in octopus boxes. Or it could be an inside disagreement between the individuals making up the corporation. There is a lot of restaurant ownership concentrated in few hands, some research through Secretary of State and gumshoes might reveal a lot.

    Should have been very easy for them to staff from the free cooking college City College runs for Chinese restaurants down on Second and Mission. They staff most of the kitchens offering what is now considered “ordinary” Chinese fare (the places leaving flyers on your stairs all the time). I’ve been here long enough to remember restaurants in Chinatown offering the exotic Chop Suey and went to high school with Joe Boys and Wah Ching.

    Javaholics has closed before and reopened.

  53. LLCoolJew said (03/20/13; 4:27 pm):

    #54/4thGenRich: Not a newcomer, as I’ve have been here since last century. I’m merely sharing the name I’ve chosen for my part of hood, and I encourage you to continue using your own.

    I’m going to send a few emails to some of my restaurateur friends, in case they know of anyone looking for space.

    -LL, MidRich

  54. ALY said (03/20/13; 5:11 pm):

    @4thGenRichmond get of your high horse. We are not in England, so 4 generations of living in one place do not give you much clout , they just mark you for probable lack of familiarity with other places. I have lived in SF for over 30 years, but even if I had only lived here for 3 days, I am , like everybody else, still entitled to like what I like. Personally I hate name “Richmond” and the Outer Richmond even more so. MidRich just sounds amusing to me, I am not proposing to rename anything, let alone Lake Street.

  55. Tanya said (03/20/13; 9:43 pm):

    LLCoolJew: MidRich is an excellent name! Now you’ve got me thinking of what to call the Outer Richmond (colloquially, of course. Not officially. Please note that distinction, 4thGenRichmond et al).

  56. LLCoolJew said (03/20/13; 9:47 pm):

    LOL LOL LOL, Tanya!

  57. Sam said (03/20/13; 10:22 pm):

    If you want to know what happened, I suggest following the money. Was this a tax write-off; a chance to flip property; a money-laundering operation? Any other suggestions, and how would we find out?

  58. Brian C. said (03/21/13; 10:30 am):

    Not to start a flame-war but MidRich is just too long and too generic for me. it’s like NorPan instead of NOPA, or theT3n for tenderloin. just doesn’t work, see what I mean?

    I find Mid to be a problem because it’s not very helpful, is it the business center? the geographic center? the median income? I think it just means you don’t wanna be “outer” Richmond but arent inner. and i think RICH still has some of the offensiveness of Richmond. In this case,

    may I suggest Nouveau Riche? riche, because as #54 reminds we ain’t England. and NOUVEAU for Not Outer, Upper, Very East, or Around Ulloa.

  59. 4thGenRichmond said (03/21/13; 12:38 pm):

    LLCoolDew, Last Century is less than two decades ago. In any case, my home does not have a name like some of the pretentious have in England. I have lived in several other countries as well as other states and had over 100,000 miles of international travel before I was 10 years old. On returning to SF and leaving again, and returning finally, what I have found is there is a lot of disrespect prevalent in SF compared to other places on the planet. City Hall’s social engineering projects and district elections have led to less ownership and involvement in neighborhoods, fewer neighbors actually knowing and looking out for each other, and an increasingly selfish outlook with an slant toward fast profits.

    Lake District is lovely country in North England.

  60. ALY said (03/21/13; 1:04 pm):

    @4thGen – I have no argument with you on anything you say about ownership, and the rest. I quite agree actually, specially about social engineering. And Lake District is lovely. But I still totally hate the name Richmond District.

  61. alyxandr said (03/21/13; 4:06 pm):

    Anti-Aussie racism is a terrible thing.

  62. Khaki said (03/21/13; 4:36 pm):

    ALY – Squat & Gobble or a crepe place would be perfect! We really need a breakfast place, I miss that so much. Ok, it’s always been “The Richmond” to me or “The Avenues.” I have been more precise by saying “Mid-Richmond” but people still don’t get that. I have to say, “you know, near the old Alexandria, and Walgreens and ….” But mostly if I’m asked specifically where I live, I ask why they need to know … :oD

  63. Ally's Mom said (03/21/13; 5:14 pm):

    I agree with the comments that they’re looking for a tax write-off and take this as a loss to help balance their books. In the meantime they can offload the place at a decent price since they’ve done all the renovations and everything is new. Can’t hire people? Doubt it.

  64. LLCoolJew said (03/21/13; 5:22 pm):

    Hey, 4G- don’t get snappy with ME! Please note that I was NOT the person that brought up England or the Lake District; I merely encouraged you to not use the term “MidRich” if it didn’t suit you, and said little else.

    Yes, I realize that “last century” was less than two decades ago, but it shows that I’m not a “newcomer”, as improperly labeled. True… I am likely far more youthful than you are. And I might even mention that I’ve visited 67 countries thus far, potentially suggesting that I’m also better traveled. But alas, we are neighbors, discussing a restaurant closure that we both find disconcerting, and I apologize if the introduction of my term “MidRich” has been upsetting to you. I’m actually quite charming and immensely adorable. Feel free to talk with me over a cup of coffee sometime. I’ll happily dazzle you with my travel stories.

  65. mel said (03/21/13; 6:06 pm):

    My apologies for even introducing the term “Lake District.” It was late and I forgot to add “Street.” BTW, real estate uses the term a lot, so don’t be surprised if you hear it again. Nonetheless, I was not even proposing that Lake Street be renamed; nor, was I even seeking a moniker for any part of our neighborhood. If I had to come up with one, I would say that the Central Ricmond/MidRich should be Bliss.
    But alas, I have only lived here for 3 years. So apparently for some, my contribution to commentary is irrelevant. You really can’t complain about “SF disrespect” and also be Intolerant of newcomers and relatively new residents. Most that move to the Richmond do not have a selfish outlook and are not looking to milk fast profits from long-time residents.
    I, like many have lived throughout the U.S. and abroad, but this is the first place that I truly felt was my home–my forever home. Also, I know my neighbors, we chat, and we look out for one another. So, I do not experience the selfishness that 4thGenRichmond expresses.

  66. ALY said (03/21/13; 7:48 pm):

    @mel. I think Lake district was the very term my real estate agent used.
    About selfishness – there was a time during the dot. boom when there was this particular buzz and vibe, which I personally found quite unattractive and self important. There was also a lot of crazy greed and destruction of neighborhoods. Cannot claim it is a uniquely a SF thing, but this city does seem to go though periodic booms that attract a lot of people for a short time with a get rich quick agenda , so maybe that contributes to the reputation of the city as being somewhat rootless :)).

  67. LLCoolJew said (03/21/13; 7:51 pm):

    You’re a bona fide resident in my book, Mel! And I’m glad that you feel that The Richmond (note usage) is your home. So do I. I, too, know my neighbors, shopkeepers, postal workers, police, etc. I have keys to people’s homes, and they call on me when they need a favor. It’s lovely. I adore it. And I wouldn’t change it for the world. So cheers to you, neighbor!!! I dig ya! :) -LL

  68. Jerrold D Buck said (03/21/13; 10:23 pm):

    I came to this website because of the item in Leah Garchik’s column today. Someone is very talented and imaginative.

    That said, I was dismayed at the nasty tone of the comments about the Da Place restaurant closing. The overall tone and drift of the comments borders on the worst of internet bad behavior. There were several more neutral or positive comments, but the majority dwelled on bad motives of the owners, including a “Chinese mafia” slur, enough conspiracy theories to make Rush Limbaugh happy, and the fact that there are tons of people just “waiting” to be hired to work. And why would one say, “Doesn’t sound like they are selling the place though. but let me just throw out that I would love it if there is some complicated nefarious scheme. Maybe with Eric Mar, Ed Lee and gobs of taxpayer money. A Machiavellian masterpiece of mismanaged meal-making? Mealy mouthed muckraking. as #16 Mark C. did.

    However it does really show what trying to do anything in San Francisco involves as far as individual sniping and snarkiness of the neighborhood goes.

    I agree with #8 Mark T, who said, “Not only are these business owners already losing money from their short tenure, but they also get to be publicly criticized from neighbors in the Richmond. Way to represent, folks! I already feel bad for the next tenant.”

  69. BobbittyBob said (03/22/13; 4:19 am):

    #68, while some of the comments are worthy of a bad TV script, what we’re left with is yet another empty business in the Richmond district. One which was a major nusiance during its constuction (resulting in the removing of yet more parking with the transfer of a meter spot to white zone), noise, side-walk blockage, etc. What ended up in the location was confusing and seemed half-hearted. A tea character sign with an odd name. Anonymous frontage that gave very little clue as to what it was. No public menu for reading. Hybrid/fusion/utter-confusion. It seemed to be a business without a business plan, which is extraordianily odd considering the obvious amount of money pumped in to the facility. All for a three week opening. 3 weeks. And then a “lame” excuse for closing. All of the above is enough to set of even mild conspiracy theory. The demographic of the area, the number of similar resturants, there really does seem to be more behind the story. Whether or not it is nefarious has yet to be ascertained, but it certainly does make for entertainment. And a story of caution: “If you build it – they will come” is not true! Particularly if patrons aren’t given the opportunity to test the place before its shuttered.

    As for the other poster suggesting pretentiousness of some of the English naming houses… For any post-1970 house I’d tend to agree, though it’s tradition. Houses have names, names that often pre-dated roads and street numbers. Our 1840 cottage was named after field/farm to which it originally served as servant quarters (plus describing the loch the property originally included). Another of our properties was named after the Japanese islands the Captain builder had enjoyed on his sailing travels during the 1850s. They tell a story, not always obviously, and are tradition. Even now a family members home tells the story of what (surviving parts of the building) and location served function for in the 1790s. So… A long-winded way of suggesting that even homes in America can tell stories too being much more interesting than #24 or #5544.

  70. Richmond Resident said (03/22/13; 2:04 pm):

    To bounce back to the other conversation about the name for the district. We may be all too parochial by focusing on the current identity as the Richmond District. We need to step back and take the larger few, a view that some may be reluctant to stretch for. We are Western San Francisco aren’t we? Let’s call outselves that. It runs the risk of being an also ran like South San Francisco which I always thought was a little vague, people outside the area don’t know how far south it starts or goes. But Western San Francisco pretty much has to start at the ocean and work its way east, probably about 3 miles east.

  71. alyxandr said (03/22/13; 3:56 pm):

    Mr. Buck: It is a standard feature of a new business plan to account for several *months* of losses, never mind three weeks. If you’d like to demonstrate you’re not a shill shipped in for spin-control, perhaps you’d like to explain how the *very* business-savvy owners apparently didn’t know this.

    RR: I’m *not* “parochial”, I’m just not a Realtor®. ;-)

  72. Jerrold D. Buck said (03/22/13; 4:33 pm):

    I have been called to task for my comments made yesterday by “alexyandr”. I am being labeled a “shill” working on spin control for some unknown entity. Now how one could go about disproving such an accusation in the body of a blog is a puzzle to me. So, I will just say that I came to this blog because of the comment by Leah Garchik regarding the marvelous “little” door that was installed in the base of a tree in the Richmond. While on the blog site I was reading all the negative, accusatory, conspiratorial comments made about Da Place and the conjectures about the “true” motives of the possibly “Chinese” mafia owners. And I commented about just that and how it verifies to me why it is so hard to get anything approved, done, or accepted in San Francisco. I live in Half Moon Bay where many of the same issues faced by the Richmond District residents are also present. I served 8 years on the planning commission dealing with those same issues and served 8 years on the San Mateo Transit District dealing with other related community issues. Solving or mitigating the problems is never easy even with total community support.Over the past 40+ years I and my family have enjoyed coming to the Richmond to eat, see movies, buy comics or game figures and just enjoy the ambience of a great neighborhood. In other words, I am just someone walking through the neighborhood, looking in the windows, listening to people “talking” and hearing a lot of negativity and enmity towards business owners.

    What’s to “spin”, the place opened and either the owners totally misjudged on doing so or they had some undisclosed motive for closing, whatever. The who, what, when. where and or why doesn’t matter at this point. There was a F.U. of some sort. All that truly matters is that there is another closed business front where there should be a viable business.

    I am not a Realtor either, by the way.

  73. Jerrold D. Buck said (03/22/13; 4:40 pm):

    Having said all that, this “blog” site is really nice and I tip my hat to whoever is involved in maintaining it. It is easy to navigate and I really like that the T-shirts are offered in multi-xl sizes. all the neighborhoods need this sort of representation.

  74. Administrator said (03/22/13; 4:41 pm):

    @Jerrold – Thanks :)

    Sarah B.

  75. LLCoolJew said (03/22/13; 4:57 pm):

    JDB: I enjoyed reading your above comment and appreciate the perspectives that you have shared. Thank you for that. :)

    @ Richmond Resident: I’m clearly with you on said identity crisis. I like your suggestion of “Western Richmond”, though hope it doesn’t get confused with Western Addition (not that there’s anything wrong with W.E.). What about WestRich, MidRich, and EastRich? Yeah, never mind… it’s not worth the debate that would soon follow. But I really do dislike our current name, I feel like it gets a weird reception when I tell people I live here, and that it could definitely use some PR. ;)

    Happy weekend everyone! It’s a BEAUTIFUL day in the neighborhood!! Won’t you be my neighbor?
    -LL

  76. alyxandr said (03/23/13; 7:40 am):

    JDB — good answer, and I apologize, that came out a bit ruder and less charitable than was intended.

  77. Jerrold D. Buck said (03/23/13; 9:29 am):

    Alyxandr;

    Apology accepted. Thanks for responding back. Wishing all the residents well in getting the district back on track. Shuttered businesses led to graffiti and other ills.

  78. Jerrold D. Buck said (03/23/13; 9:31 am):

    Sarah B., I gather from your response that you are the blog site person. Again, kudos for a well designed and run web site.

  79. phil said (03/25/13; 12:35 am):

    Looks more and more like San Francisco needs to set business zoning density limits. It’s *absurd* to have one Chinese restaurant after another open, and then close. Same with all the Chinese dessert places. Same with any other business that is essentially a “copy” of several businesses just like it.

    And, please, spare me the “free market” blather. There is no such thing. Who wins in these scenarios? Commercial LANDLORDS! Do you see them complaining? Never!

    What we end up with from these busted businesses is long-term derelict buildings, painted over by lame graffiti-toting slime that make our neighborhood look a mess. The landlords? Too many win either way? They get deposits, rental fees, and tax write-offs when the buildings go vacant.

    Supervisor Mar: how about at least *introducing* the idea of commercial zoning quotas, like many other cities implement? Or, does the landlord class have our Supervisors in their respective pockets, too?

    DePlace’s opening, then shutting down after three weeks – after millions spent, claiming that they can’t find enough people to staff the place? And on top of that the owners are experienced restauranteurs? And, seemingly, they had the better part of a year to plan? Something is REALLY fishy (pun intended).

  80. Brian C. said (03/25/13; 12:32 pm):

    I think most people want thriving, very local, businesses but I think they also expect an explanation.

    It seems like the owners, who spent quite a bit on making a good location have a very nice looking restaurant, could give some very specific insight. They don’t have to, but the one they gave (the sign was down the day after this article posted) was a little odd .

    I’m sorry if comments, including mine, that make light of the oddity come off as unsympathetic or “negativity”. I think it is more properly viewed as interest. And confusion.

    It’s hard not to think of the past in a neighborhood with the ruins of the Sutro Baths but I find it harder, not to dream of what’s yet to come and the forces at work while we sleep.

    I appreciate articles on the ills of small business development for us out west and I think the comments reflect that it is a shared concern.

  81. LLCoolJew said (03/25/13; 12:45 pm):

    Agreed, Phil! If I see one more Bubble Tea Lounge open up, I may very well jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Incidentally, I spoke with or contacted friends of mine who own restaurants (NoPa & Nopalito, State Bird Provisions, Roam, and Aracely); asking them to please spread the word in their professional communities about our desires for a new eatery in the MidRich, as well as a potential space available on 21st/Geary. I also emailed Squat and Gobble suggesting that they might consider our neighborhood as a possible location. I quite honestly don’t know the current financial situation or status of DePlace, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to be proactive… I’M HUNGRY!

  82. AppleB said (03/25/13; 9:38 pm):

    I have been reading the comments for a few days now and it has come to a point where I am genuinely appauld by the racist comments by my fellow neighbors. How does race or ethnicity have to do with a restaurant closing or opening? Would you have the same comments for an Italian/Russian/Mexican etc closing or opening in any part of the city like the mission, north beach etc? I moved the Richmond more than a decade ago for its melting pot of culture and diversity. Never did I ever think it would be this racist. Truely disappointing to read in a neighborhood I love and support everyday.

  83. renee said (03/26/13; 12:01 am):

    @appleb: To answer your question, yes, I absolutely would have the same comments if a Mexican restaurant closed in the Mission or an Italian restaurant closed in NB. This issue has NOTHING to do with racism, appleb. You are reading nefarious intent into this discussion, which is unfortunate. Try a few deep breaths and reread the blog comments. What people are questioning (have you willfully disregarded the obvious?) is that experienced restauranteurs spent tons of money to gut the previous restaurant; hire architects, designers, builders; attend planning commission hearings, buy all required permits, clear all inspections; acquire an alcohol license (no small feat), and hire a few people–all of which took more than a year–only to close after just 3 little ol’ weeks, without even having a grand opening of any sort. This just does not make sense. Were the owners (experienced business people, remember) so confused that they didn’t realize there was no money in it until they had already opened? After all the planning and capital outlay, does anyone seriously believe that they decided to throw in the towel after only three WEEKS because no chefs or cooks could be found? And BTW, the owners are still racking up an electricity bill, because the lights along the outside of the building are shining brightly every night. So no, appleb, this has nothing to do with racism. As for the blog comments, from many here, that we don’t need another Chinese restaurant in this neighborhood–well, who could argue that we lack for Asian restaurants in the Richmond? Yes, we could use an excellent Indian restaurant and a taqueria (and I say that as one who doesn’t much care for Mexican food). Ethnic food perferences do not make a person a racist, for heaven’s sake. On a hopeful note, the corner location is great, so I maybe a viable business (from one of LL’s contacts) will seize the day, buy in, have a grand opening this year!

  84. Jerrold Buck said (03/26/13; 2:51 am):

    renee; Appleb is right on in sensing an undercurrent of racism running through several of the comments mad here.. What struck me when I read through all of the comments originally was just how snide, snarky, conspiratorial and just plain rude many of the comments were.

    Your comments are an example, “Were the owners (experienced business people, remember) so confused that they didn’t realize there was no money in it until they had already opened? (snide) After all the planning and capital outlay, does anyone seriously believe that they decided to throw in the towel after only three WEEKS because no chefs or cooks could be found?” (conspiracy anyone?)

    Maybe they realized that the neighborhood was a place they no longer wanted to be associated with due to the attitudes as professed here might suggest.

    Maybe they overspent and went bust.

    Maybe they needed a big tax write off.

    Who knows for sure? And in the end what does it matter? They came, they drove the area nuts for a year of construction, opened, closed, and most probably are gone for good.

    Life goes on.

  85. Marc said (03/26/13; 7:56 am):

    @renee: There are comments here that compare the failed restaurant to a mainland-China GDP-goosing scam, that suggest a collaborative effort by Asian politicians and community leaders to profit from its failure, that mention money laundering, that mention a “Chinese mafia.” A business closed shortly after opening, and in the absence of much evidence of what actually caused the closure, various participants in this discussion have filled the vacuum with ugly slurs. This undercurrent, as Jerrold Buck put it, is disgusting, and all the more so when denied.

  86. AppleB said (03/26/13; 7:58 am):

    Thank you Jerrold. I am sure there is a reason why DePlace closed down; none of which is anyone’s business really. But it is sad to see a store front empty. I am more interested in seeing what new business pops up that is sustainable and enriches Geary street like Chapeau, Q, Burma Star etc on Clement street. Licking my chops now and wishing for something awesome in that space.

  87. Toby said (03/26/13; 2:12 pm):

    I wish people will understand how much money it takes to open a restaurant and run a restaurant. Does it occur to anyone? With so many restaurants in SF, the competition is tough. Those who want Mexican, go to the Mission. We have four Mexican restaurants from Clement/19, to Geary/19, to Geary/23rd to Clement/23. Should we really read so much into one note. It was nice enough they wrote a note to inform people. Usually people just write that they are remodeling and next you know, owners change hands. For those who don’t want any Asian restaurants, why don’t you try opening one? Aziza is eventually moving. SF is getting way too expensive to live, to work, and to survive. I wonder where is that giant crawfish, is it sitting in some other restaurant? This whole restaurant is so strange, strange name, strange crawfish in front. We should all be grateful that anyone opens any restaurant in our neighborhood. The welcome comments will be more neighborly! I wish people stop being so negative.

  88. J said (03/26/13; 4:18 pm):

    I wld like to be in disbelief bcoz it just opened but then i do believe when i saw a lot of negative comments about this resto that in my mind it wasn’t gonna last & true enough they’re now closed! no wonder as i was passing by a few days ago i thought wow why is this resto quiet & no customers inside & it was so dark? i thought ummh they cld be on a spring break? hahaha little did i know they’re closed for good & i don’t buy it one bit about them claiming it’s the staffing that’s the culprit? gimme a break! the owner who spent maybe hundreds & thous of $$ shld just admit that there were not enough customers to keep the place going & not blame it on staffing! i hope that whoever will be taking over is going to be a better one that this one!

  89. Brian C. said (03/26/13; 4:26 pm):

    It’s really unfair to call renee’s comments snide and conspiratorial, which I don’t think that even makes sense.

    And to say that these comments are racist…outside of a few comments, which it’s the internet, most people are talking about money. Those who think it is race are definitely reading their own over-sensitivities into an “undercurrent”. The reason people got sad about the video cafe closure was because it had been there forever and was unique, not because it was some “race” or not some other “race”. Give me a break.

  90. Jerrold Buck said (03/26/13; 10:51 pm):

    Brian C;

    You don’t find that,”“Were the owners (experienced business people, remember) so confused that they didn’t realize there was no money in it until they had already opened?” a snide comment? Really??

    And you don’t find that, “After all the planning and capital outlay, does anyone seriously believe that they decided to throw in the towel after only three WEEKS because no chefs or cooks could be found?” isn’t conspiratorial in tone? Again, really??

    As far as the “racism” comment, there are at least three of us, Appleb, Marc, and myself who said that we felt there was an undercurrent of racism in many of the other comments. Your comment, “Which it is the Internet”, is a poor excusing of what is really unacceptable behavior in today’s world. Racism has no place anywhere at anytime. Period.

  91. Brian C. said (03/27/13; 10:16 am):

    I really don’t find it snide. Really. And a lot more than 3 people, on the internet, have echoed the sense of confusion and curiosity.

  92. Jerrold Buck said (03/27/13; 7:35 pm):

    Brian C.;

    You commented, “A lot more than 3 people, on the internet, have echoed the sense of confusion and curiosity.”

    I assume you are referring to my comment which was, “As far as the “racism” comment, there are at least three of us, Appleb, Marc, and myself who said that we felt there was an undercurrent of racism in many of the other comments.” which has no relation to your response which has to do with the confusion about Da Place closing and the collective curiosity as to why and what the motives were behind the closing.

    And your point is? That the curious and confused outnumber those who feel there is an undercurrent of racism in many of the comments here? So the majority rules? What?

    Just in case you miss it, I am being slightly snide in my comment.

  93. jacob said (04/21/13; 8:00 am):

    can some industrious restauranteur please bring us a quality east-coast style 24-hour diner to the area? this area sorely lacks in diners and late-night options, unless you want craptastic “food” from Subway. …i hope this happens, because now that All You Need in the Haight is gone, i may just leave the west coast if i don’t get a good, cheap greasy burger and fries served by a rude waitress in her forties in an environment that’s saturated in neon and the sound of jukeboxes that have Paul Anka and Patsy Cline playing on them.

  94. alyxandr said (04/21/13; 8:27 am):

    Have you tried the Lucky Penny, at Geary & Masonic?

  95. Dylan said (08/8/13; 7:16 pm):

    So I just moved to 11th and Fulton and just really really hope that sad cemetry of empty restaurants around 6th and Balboa turns into a thriving business district. It has all the makings of one and I personally would frequent it. What I’d like: a really great cafe with a parklet (not Cinderella, in addition to it — maybe something like Trouble in the sunset); a bar like Alembic or Whiskey Thieves; 1-2 good restaurant options (maybe a Nopalito or whatever), a good breakfast spot and a good mexican joint. Parklets should abound, as should a good happy hour option.

    It’s crazy to me that these places are empty in such a potentially great neighborhood.

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