I am extremely sad to report that DNA Pizza's new hours will be:
- Sun - Thu: 4 PM to 3:30 AM
Fri - Sat: 4 PM to 5 AM
We're losing way too much money on our morning and lunchtime shifts, so we have to scale back.
There has been a pizza restaurant next door to DNA Lounge since 1990 (except for one year in the middle). Those previous restaurants were typically only open at night; they depended almost 100% on business from DNA Lounge and Slim's customers, and would often just be closed on nights when neither club had a show. In the later years, Bowser's Pizza never opened the dining room at all, selling slices exclusively through the pass-through window.
When we took over the space and opened DNA Pizza in 2011, my thinking was, "We're paying rent on this space 24 hours a day. Let's find a way to make money in each of those hours, not just one third of them."
Well, seven years later and it's time to give up on that idea. The restaurant portion of our business, taken in isolation (to the degree that that's possible) is in the black during pretty much any time that the nightclub is open; and deep in the red most other times. We have so little business during the breakfast and lunch shifts that the food we sell doesn't even cover the salaries of the 2 or 3 people it takes to run the restaurant during those hours.
San Francisco doesn't have enough 24 hour restaurants, or post-10 PM food options, or lunch spots that also have a café-like atmosphere, where it feels like you're welcome to hang out with a laptop for hours. I thought we could do something to help with that. I assumed that the lack 24 hour places was because the city makes it such a pain in the ass to get the permits, but maybe it's really because the people who live here just don't actually want them.
I guess we have proven that there is demand for late-night food, though. Even mid-week, when the club isn't open, the restaurant is still doing ok after midnight. But breakfast and lunch, not so much.
We tried so many things to make this place function as a daytime café, to no avail. We tried to find a local coffee company or café or other opinionated coffee nerd to run our coffee business; zero interest. We tried rolling out a mobile coffee/pastries cart onto the sidewalk in the mornings to try and snag some foot traffic; waste of time. We've tried to convince various pop-up restaurant people to take over the place for weekend brunch, or for anything, really; zero interest. We tried to reach out to local businesses to get them to order in for meetings and whatnot; nope.
Back in February, we scaled back our morning business, closing the doors to the dining room and only selling out of the pass-through window until 10 AM. That let us run with a smaller morning staff, which helped a bit, but still not enough to put those hours in the black.
I used to think that a part of the problem was that this neighborhood has absolutely no foot traffic during the day. I told myself: the few office buildings nearby have their own underground parking and dedicated cafeterias, so nobody ever leaves them. But then the food-truck court down the street opened up to prove me wrong. Clearly that's not the reason.
Well, it's time to stop theorizing, and just cut our losses. Whatever the reason is that we have no morning or lunch business, we're seven years in to not knowing how to fix it. So let's focus on the part that is working -- putting pizza into drunks -- and spend that money that we had been just setting on fire on something else instead.
Not that there's anything particularly wrong with merely being the food component of the nightclub, but I thought and hoped that it could be more than that (and consequently be both more interesting, and make more money).
The thing that sucks most about this is that fewer hours means fewer shifts, which means that we're going to have to lay off a bunch of people. But I'm just not in a position to keep paying salaries for people to stand around while no customers are walking in the door.
In short, everything is terrible. Join our Patreon.