'This is probably it' for Mission Beach Cafe, facing eviction and Health Department shutdown

Photo: Alisa Scerrato/Hoodline
By Alisa Scerrato - Published on June 10, 2019.

It appears to be the end of the line for popular Mission District brunch spot Mission Beach Cafe (198 Guerrero St., at 14th St.), which has received an eviction notice from its landlord and been shut down for the second time this year by the SF Department of Public Health.

In a note posted to the business' window, owner Bill Clarke did not reference the eviction. But he said the Health Department shutdown is "probably it for Mission Beach Cafe," alleging that inspectors showed up unannounced after previously telling him he could call when it was time to be reinspected. 

"I have never seen two people so hell-bent on a negative outcome," he said in the note.

It's not Clarke's first brush with the DPH. In January, Hoodline reported that the agency shut down the restaurant and suspended its permit to operate due to “an imminent public health risk,” citing a severe rodent infestation and mouse droppings.

The restaurant’s last inspection had a safety score of 65 out of 100, categorized as “poor” by the Department of Public Health. After a reinspection around that time, the restaurant's permit was reinstated and the restaurant reopened; however, its health score still stands today as a 65 out of 100.

Message from owner Bill Clarke in the cafe's window. | Photo: Barak Gila/Twitter

The DPH shutdown is the latest in a longseries of legal and financial struggles for Mission Beach Cafe, which regularly draws lines of eager brunchgoers on weekend mornings.

In addition to his troubles with the DPH, Clarke has also been served with an eviction notice from his landlord, Erich Pearson.

After hearing about the potential eviction from tipster MMC this past Friday, June 7, Hoodline reached out to Pearson, who said that he's evicting Clarke because he has stopped paying rent, and consistently failed to pay his water and garbage bills.

Clarke, however, disputed those charges. He told Hoodline on Friday that he has paid rent every month, and “as of Monday, this month will be paid."

“It is [Pearson’s] choice to use such extreme measures, but it is a bogus statement to say 'Consistent failure to pay rent' when, as of Monday, no rents will be owing," he said.

"The other bills are ongoing and being taken care of," Clarke continued. "Actually, [Pearson] is in arrears on the water bill, for which I have had to front the money so that the water for the building isn't shut off." 

Back in March, Clarke also attempted to appeal the Health Department’s January decision to shut down the cafe, saying that he had failed to appear at a Labor Standards enforcement hearing on February 21 because he had it confused "with pressing deadlines for [his] Chapter 11 [personal] bankruptcy case." 

The eviction, bankruptcy and Health Department issues aren't Clarke's first run-ins with the law. In 2017, he was sued by nine current and former Mission Beach Cafe employees for a host of alleged labor violations, including bounced paychecks, routinely issuing paychecks late and failing to properly compensate employees for the hours they worked.

Pearson cited both the employees' lawsuit and the cafe's issues with the Health Department as factors in his decision to evict Clarke's business.

“My heart goes out to the talented staff, who have been mistreated over the years, as well as the community who loved this cafe," said Pearson. "Our goal is to identify a responsible tenant as quickly as possible to operate a new, community-serving cafe."

Pearson also has some other plans for the lot on which Mission Beach Cafe stands. SF Planning records show that Pearson has filed to divide the lot in two, with the intention of turning a garage located next door to the cafe (fronting 14th Street) into its own lot.

Should the request be approved, Pearson hopes to demolish the garage and construct a new residential building with three housing units. The building that houses Mission Beach Cafe and its upstairs residential units will remain intact. 

An aerial view of proposed plans for the construction next door to Mission Beach Cafe. | Image: SF Planning

Pearson doesn't currently have a new tenant in mind for Mission Beach Cafe's space, he said.

“We have a bit of construction to do first ... [Once that's done], we will reach out to the community to hear who may be interested in operating in the space.” 

Teresa Hammerl contributed reporting to this story.

Thanks to tipster MMC. See something interesting while you’re out and about? Text Hoodline and we’ll try to find out what's going on: (415) 200-3233. If we use your tip, we'll give you credit.

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