Hillside Supper Club Shares Straight Talk on Restaurant Business

Hillside Supper Club chefs and Bernal neighbors Tony Ferrari (left) and Jonathon Sutton.

Bernal Neighbor Tony Ferrari is chef and co-owner of the Hillside Supper Club restaurant at 300 Precita, in the southwest corner of Precita Park. Yesterday he sent a note to Bernalwood that’s both a candid perspective on the challenge of operating a restaurant in San Francisco right now and a neighborly invitation to stop by for a bite.

Chef Tony writes:

To: Our community, neighbors, and friends,

We want to be open and honest with you all, and always one hundred percent transparent. The last five years has been nothing but a great experience, creating relationships, nourishing our community, giving back if and when possible and the best thing of all: Cooking fair, honest, clean food with a purpose for all of you. Every year learning more, giving opportunity, adapting to change and suggestions, and doing our very best every day.

This year, however, things have felt a bit different. We’ve noticed a huge decrease in business, rising costs and living expenses, and the neighborhood becoming more transient for better or for worse. We feel we have tried everything we can with menu changes, pricing, marketing avenues, delivery apps, and community involvement, and we’re still left with too many seats empty at our tables and so much effort put into welcoming you.

The reality of it is, if things stay this way we are looking at a matter of weeks until we have to close and sell our gathering place, give ourselves a pat on the back for how far we come, and end this chapter in our lives. In hopes our legacy will continue and the next establishment embrace the community and do it better then we. The entire Hillside team would humbly like to ask all of you who are able to come share a meal with us to come in for a visit sooner then later. The staff, food, and space are incomplete without your enjoyment.

Some attractions:

  • We’re doing a Sunday Supper 40 bucks for a 3 course meal (That’s about 13 bucks a plate. Killer deal)
  • Mondays are no corkage (BYOB beer or wine for free).
  • Fridays and Saturdays after 10pm all appetizers and glasses of wine are 10 bucks.

It’s an interesting time for the restaurant industry, as things are changing ever-so rapidly. Not to mention trying to stay afloat on sixteen bucks an hour in our amazing city.

We know we are not alone in this struggle, and hope we can all come together to figure out a common solution that benefits everyone. Money comes and money goes, but it’ll always be there for the people that work hard for it. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.

We hope to see you all soon. Thanks.

Your Neighborhood Restaurant

18 thoughts on “Hillside Supper Club Shares Straight Talk on Restaurant Business

  1. Although I live in NYC, I always come to the Supper Club when visiting relatives on Folsom Street.
    It has always been my first meal in San Francisco. Your standards are high, the food is always
    delicious and the staff very friendly. I do hope that you can make it through this difficult period.
    Keep working on developing new attractive menu options and consider offering catering services.
    There is a big demand in SF and most caterers specialize in only large events.
    Good Luck!

  2. You guys have done a great job and are our go-to restaurant for celebrations! Wish we could afford to come more often but will make a point to do so again soon. Thank you for your contribution to our neighborhood and let us know how we can keep supporting you through whatever decisions you make.

  3. We love the Supper Club!! I admit, we rarely go, because we rarely go out, period. BUT, we would love to support this neighborhood gem and start being regulars. What about making it a real Supper Club? We’d commit to spending $50/month! Maybe others would, too, and then you’d have some certainty. I’m sure that would cost something to administrate, but for the record, we’d be in.

  4. Thanks for reaching out! I have a 2 year old so we don’t frequent restaurants much anymore but I would love to order delivery. Which apps can I use?

  5. I’m sad and surprised to hear this. It always seemed busy when I pass by.

    Although I admit I am part of the problem, as I haven’t gone there much. I’m not a beer or wine fan so lack of a full liquor license often puts me off. And the times I had gone I thought the menu was too adventurous for my taste, and I do check out the menu from time to time.

    It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood and I’m sorry to hear it might be closing.

  6. This is such a great letter thanks to two stellar chefs for your open honest message…one cannot buy food of your caliber for the price anywhere….I am feeling similar retail woes but I think I have more room to manipulate my profit margin in retail than restaurant profiles do. We will see. I will stop by soon and I hope we get to chat and I get to eat your incredible food.

    • And I hope this letter makes the hood come out in droves to support the real deal…a neighborhood restaurant with incredible, local food.

  7. We love this restaurant. The owners,the folks, and space are lovely. I do wish they would greatly reduce the salt on some of their dishes. A dish shouldn’t taste only salty.

  8. Had a great dinner here — Corkage Free Monday will definitely find a place on our regular list! The service, the food, the ambiance…..all outstanding.

  9. I really like this place, but their vegetarian and vegan options were just too limited our last few visits, so we stopped going.

  10. I have only been a couple times, one reason being that I had to leave the neighborhood (I lived two blocks away from the restaurant) almost 3 years ago, due to being priced out of housing, and now live several cities away. I am really saddened to hear this news, but it should not be surprising. There are many reasons why people love the place, but as the comments (and potential “deals” from the owners suggest), it’s limited in what it can be and provide. It’s become a place, for some, to enjoy on a special occasion, and those are not regular ones, and the lack of many vegetarian options, due in part to the small menu, means that it ultimately aims at a certain palate while not attracting enough others.

    Sustainability is made more daunting by the stress, for customers, of simply paying rent and mortgage in Bernal and just about everywhere else in the city, besides (for the restaurant owners) laws on minimum wage and just the costs of running a business in San Francisco. The point about transiency appears to be crucial: Many people have left the neighborhood after appreciating how that restaurant rejuvenated that sleepy corner and loving it for that (these folks have not come back), those who have come in the past few years have already invested 1.5 million dollars to live here (and thus may not eat out at relatively high expense that much, especially if they are toting around kids to this restaurant), and those who have owned property in Bernal for 15 or 20 or 30 years in the neighborhood may not be that typical of a crowd who will shell out 100+ bucks for a dinner with a couple friends. They may not be so much into the constant adventure of the place as they would be interested in experiencing once or twice. This is not a criticism of any of these realities, but merely a stating of them.

  11. What steps do these guys really take to preserve and support the neighborhood as business owners? Bet my life they both use Uber and Air BB which, if you can’t see how those contribute to the “transient-ness” of the Precita neighborhood, then you are not paying attention. I walk by this resto nearly every day and I have never seen “community involvement” events. These guys have been patting themselves on the back for a while and this open letter kinda sounds like they’re blaming US, the ‘hood and it’s residents for not eating there enough to keep them open, and that’s not the way it works. This letter smacks of white male privilege and I hate it.

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