Codeword, DNA Pizza On 5th And Folsom To Shutter

After nearly two years of operation, Codeword and its attached DNA Pizza will shutter at the end of July.

The news, which was revealed in a blog post written by owner Jamie Zawinski, comes as Zawinski struggles to keep his other businesses—DNA Lounge, and  the 11th Street branch of DNA Pizza—alive.  

"We have had some really fun events at Codeword," he wrote, "and worked with some great artists and promoters. But even though many of the parties were fun, very few of them made enough money to cover our rent, and those that did were few and far between."

The pizza parlor at Codeword. | PHOTO: PHILZ PHOTO/DNA LOUNGE

Codeword's and DNA Lounge's financial troubles have been well-documented. In December 2016, Zawinski—who had been a computer programmer who played a pivotal role on Netscape Navigator—admitted that DNA Lounge had never turned a profit in the nearly two decades since he first acquired it in 1999 and was running at a loss of $380,000 per year. 

To make payroll, Zawinski would write personal checks, and he claimed in an earlier post that he had invested $5 million into DNA Lounge, Codeword and the two DNA Pizzas.

However, even working with a "remarkably generous and understanding" landlord who gave Zawinski and his team a rent reduction, finances were only part of the picture for Codeword and its DNA Pizza. 

A crowd at Codeword and DNA Pizza for Noise Complaint. | Photo: Codeword SF

"It's hard to quantify the brain drain in financial terms," Zawinski wrote, "Every hour that I and my managers spend trying to figure out how to improve Codeword is an hour that is not being spent thinking about how to improve DNA, where the potential benefits could be much larger."

However, even with the closure of Codeword and DNA Pizza, DNA Lounge is still struggling to survive, especially as attendance for mashup night Bootie fell dramatically in what Zawinski called "a free fall" over the last few years. After the December 2016 news that DNA Lounge would possibly close, a Patreon was set up to keep the business alive.

However, to keep the show running, DNA Lounge needs $8,000/month, and so far, it's receiving $4,637, a little more than half of the amount needed from the Patreon account. 

"Overall, we're still pretty fucked," wrote Zawinski. "Getting rid of Codeword staunches the flow, but we're still bleeding out, every damned day."

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Codeword dna pizza on 5th and folsom to shutter