Cowgirl Creamery shuts down its Ferry Building store; Slanted Door will reopen after renovation

Photo: Cowgirl Creamery/Facebook
By Jay Barmann - Published on March 15, 2021.

Sad news arrived late last week that Cowgirl Creamery is closing its Ferry Building store after 18 years of cheesemongering in the beloved food hall. Both the store and its next-door Sidekick Cafe will close on April 10, ending an era for cheese lovers across the region.

It's the latest bit of bad news for the beleaguered Ferry Building, which even before the pandemic began was showing signs of decline as a retail and food destination. As the Chronicle notes, Cowgirl brings the total number of vacant spaces at the building to eight — and given its status and regular crowds, in earlier years there would rarely be more than one or two spaces open. We are still dealing with the pandemic, and perhaps potential lessees are just biding their time and hoping for deals when the timing is better.

Still, a couple of the empty spaces were vacated before the coronavirus upended all kinds of food businesses. Star chef Traci Des Jardins announced the closure of her taqueria Mijita last January, after 15 years at the Ferry Building. And then came the announcement that MarketBar was closing after 17 years, just two weeks before pandemic lockdowns began. Other Ferry Building businesses Farm Fresh to You and the second location Tanya Holland's Brown Sugar Kitchen both shut their doors early last year.

Cowgirl Creamery is one of the last remaining "original" tenants at the Ferry Building, having opened along with the redeveloped terminal and food hall in the early 2000s. Based in Point Reyes Station, the creamery will now only have one dedicated retail shop there at its headquarters. But Cowgirl products will continue being sold at the Ferry Building through Epicurian Trader, which just opened a shop there late last year.

"While we will miss having Cowgirl Creamery’s shop at the Ferry Building, we are confident that we will be able to fill the space with a new and local independent merchant that will add to the Ferry Building Marketplace’s beloved, farm-driven, diverse concepts," said Drew Gordon, executive vice president of Ferry Building landlord Hudson Pacific Properties, in a statement to the Chronicle.

Amanda Parker, managing director of Cowgirl, tells the paper, "No ferry traffic, no locals except on farmers’ market days, no tourists. We tried really hard to make it work and ultimately it’s just not an operation we could sustain any longer." And Parker added that entire future of downtown feels uncertain right now, with no end in sight to a downturn in foot traffic from office workers — especially after Salesforce announced it will be allowing indefinite remote work for a huge swath of its employees.

It's no wonder that the sight of The Slanted Door dining rooms being emptied of furniture sent rumors flying that it was closing down as well — especially after it never reopened for takeout or outdoor dining after shuttering last March. But no, says chef-owner Charles Phan, the rumors are not true. He confirmed to the Chronicle this week that the restaurant will reopen soon, and it's just been undergoing a major renovation. 

"It’s hard to shut down a super busy restaurant,” Phan tells the Chronicle. “The silver lining is we have time to work on the renovation."

Phan says he plans to reopen when the renovation is complete, and when more people are vaccinated and it feels safer to have the place open.

Weirdly, Phan's casual and takeout business, Out the Door, has been closed since last March as well — neither the Bush Street location nor the Ferry Building stall has reopened for business. But, one of Phan's restaurants, The Slanted Door's San Ramon location, is currently open for outdoor dining.

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