San Francisco restaurant reservations are down an average of 70% compared to 2019, the lowest rate of any US city, according to new OpenTable data released this week. But San Francisco restaurant owners said demand is gradually increasing as more people get vaccinated and become comfortable eating out. Some restaurants are fully booked for the next month.
Unlike San Francisco, OpenTable reservations are rebounding in cities like Miami and Las Vegas, which are up 27% and 16%, respectively, from April 2019. However, unlike San Francisco, these cities have moved faster to ease restrictions on restaurants, and that probably explains the surge in reservations, some owners said.
In San Francisco, restaurants were still limited to takeout and delivery between December last year and late January. In contrast, Miami restaurants have been at full capacity since the fall. In San Francisco, restaurants weren’t able to dine indoors at half capacity until the end of March when the city shifted to the orange plains. Even now, San Francisco has stricter restrictions; B. Restricting six people to one table inside and eight people outside, while Miami restaurants can seat up to 10 people inside and outside at one table.
The public health restrictions in San Francisco are more similar to cities like New York and Los Angeles, where reservations fell 67 percent and 46 percent, respectively, according to OpenTable.
And with capacity constraints in San Francisco, there are simply fewer tables available to book.
Reservations at Nari, Pim Techamuanvivit’s popular Thai restaurant that it reopened this month for indoor dining, are mostly full. Nari offers space for around 120 seats, but only accepts reservations for around 35 to 40 people. Nari uses Resy, another popular reservation platform.
However, demand is a long way from closing before last spring when Nari was a bustling, brand new restaurant and diners had to make reservations for prime-time table weeks in advance.
“It’s still a bit soft,” said Techamuanvivit. “But we see people returning to restaurants and I think the more people get vaccinated, the more demand there will be.”
At State Bird Provisions on Fillmore Street, only 10 of the 22 indoor tables are available. The restaurant is still relying more on al fresco dining, said owner Stuart Brioza, and can cater to more al fresco diners as its next door restaurant, Progress, remains closed. On Wednesday he expected a fully booked dinner.
“We are slowly seeing numbers that can keep up with our days before COVID,” said Brioza, who also owns the anchovy bar. “It takes time. Everyone is careful and methodical when opening them. “
And after a devastating year for the industry, restaurants that would have booked reservations in 2019 may have closed permanently or have not reopened.
Progress, for example, has not reopened and Techamuanvivit’s original Kin Khao location at the Parc 55 hotel on Union Square will remain closed until the hotel reopens. Nearly 60% of San Francisco restaurants on OpenTable in 2019 are now open, compared to over 80% in Miami and over 60% in New York.
The OpenTable numbers are based on a sample of approximately 20,000 restaurants in states with more than 50 companies on the platform. Many restaurants don’t use OpenTable for reservations, choose rivals like Resy or Tock, or don’t take reservations at all. The restaurants using OpenTable may differ from the average restaurant, so the overall percentage of closings may be higher or lower than these estimates.
Despite ongoing restrictions and concerns about the spread of the virus that could dampen local reservations, restaurant owners noted they were seeing renewed spikes in interest – and comfort – while eating. Some said they also feel more secure with the guests fully vaccinated.
Chef Brandon Rice’s new restaurant, Ernest, has only been open at Mission since March but is fully booked for the next month, save for a few reservations for al fresco dining at 9:15 p.m. Reservations open a month later at Resy, and peak hours are up within an hour or two, Rice said.
It also sees more diners wanting to eat in the dining room, and even keeps the indoor restaurant’s capacity lower in case a customer who has made an outdoor reservation arrives and asks to move in.
“It’s wild,” said Rice. “It’s really great to see how excited people are and how pumped they are in general to go out to eat.”
Assistant Food and Wine Editor Tanay Warerkar contributed to this story.