Total failure: San Fran’s famous food hall shutters as filthy, dangerous streets scare customers away

La Cocina Marketplace, a popular immigrant-themed San Francisco food hall, is being shuttered thanks to all the crime outside its doors.

“We worked very hard — every business here, not just me — to bring more people here, to let people know about this amazing place,” Wafa Bahloul, an Algerian immigrant who had her own food stall at the hall, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But what happened outside versus inside was totally opposite. The best solution was to just shut the doors,” she added.

What did she mean?

“Drug use, drug dealing, public defecation and urination and trash are common sights on the sidewalks outside La Cocina before it opens and after it shuts,” according to the Chronicle.

It was so bad that “the sidewalks outside were too dangerous and unpleasant to lure people to dinner as night fell, meaning the cooks were almost entirely reliant on a lunchtime crowd in a city with many workers still toiling from home.”

The only saving grace was that La Cocina paid $275,000/year on security to keep the streets mostly clear during operating hours. But that was over a quarter of a million dollars that the establishment simply couldn’t afford.

“It’s like just life here,” Bahloul said, contrasting the crime-ridden Tenderloin district the food hall is located in with the safer districts elsewhere.

As previously reported, the Tenderloin district is a veritable hellhole where drugs, homelessness, and crime run rampant thanks to the city’s Democrat policies.

“Experts say the city could, in fact, arrest and prosecute its way out of most of the problems in the Tenderloin if it chose to,” investigate journalist Leighton Woodhouse reported last year for RealClearInvestigations.

“It thrives, instead, as a zone of lawless sovereignty in the heart of a major American city – the criminal version of the area commanded by Seattle anarchists in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ, in 2020. Where those extra-legal districts were eventually dismantled, the Tenderloin’s structure is entrenched.”

Below is audio/visual footage from the dilapidated district (*Graphic content):

Damian Morffet and Ron Haysbert, two security guards who work at the hall, told the Chronicle that they personally blame La Cocina’s failure on City Hall and the policies coming from there.

“They said when they were growing up, drug dealers and people using drugs felt uncomfortable in public — but now they’re given free rein over public sidewalks while families, kids and people just trying to get lunch are made to feel uncomfortable,” according to the Chronicle.

“If the police were consistent with their patrols and efforts, people would come out here at night,” Morffet said.

“The cops drive by and look, and they don’t do anything,” Haysbert concurred.

But what can they do? The city has castrated the police with its policies, making it practically illegal for the cops to actually arrest criminals.

The pair went on to describe seeing a man drop his pants and use the sidewalk outside the food hall as his personal bathroom.

“Despite their efforts to clean the area, it still smelled bad Wednesday, scaring off customers from the marketplace’s parklet,” the Chronicle notes.

“This is not the city we grew up in,” Morffet said.

Now to be clear, the crime and homelessness outside weren’t the only factors behind La Cocina’s closing. So were the exorbitant overall costs.

See, the thing about La Cocina is that it wasn’t run as a traditional restaurant establishment. It was run by a non-profit —  one that was hemorrhaging massive cash.

“Leticia Landa, executive director of La Cocina, said the nonprofit was spending $209,000 every month — on security, custodial services, kitchenware and other costs — while only bringing in $24,000,” the Chronicle notes.

The only reason the food hall survived financially is because of support from the mayor’s office, foundations, and private donors. Otherwise, it would have probably been shuttered ages ago.

Vivek Saxena


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