What happened once the shelter-in-place orders were announced?
Our retail is primarily food service, such as Carmelina’s Taqueria, Café Bellini and Peasant Pies. During the first week of shelter-in-place, we gave each of our retailers the option to close or stay open. Most of their business comes from the daytime population of faculty, staff, patients, visitors, and the surrounding community. We got lucky because the balance of those who chose to close or stay open was perfect; it would have been a problem if everyone wanted to stay open because there wasn’t (and still isn’t) enough business.
How were they struggling?
Operating food service was already challenging in the Bay Area before COVID, but with a 60-80% drop in foot traffic and a long checklist of safety measures, it’s daunting. Operators had to lay off employees and do more of the work themselves. Yet, even in their time of pain, they still want to be part of the community and help UCSF. The public health guidance and criteria to stay open was changing constantly. Our tenants are regulated and inspected through the San Francisco Department of Public Health, yet they know we have a heightened awareness of public health and safety as a health science campus and they were dedicated to doing whatever it took to openly safely at UCSF.
How did we help?
We walked them through how to re-open and how to run their businesses during the shelter-in-place. The businesses that stayed open were mostly small “mom and pop” independent businesses. After we realized how long the shelter-in-place might continue, we knew we had to help keep them open and in business, which meant working with Real Estate Services on rent abatement. It sounds counterintuitive, but we also increased communication. We wanted our retailers to stay connected and informed, to still feel part of our community. We sent some form of communication every day and met with them often, to understand what was happening in their businesses and what they were experiencing.
Retail at UCSF: See updated hours of service for our Mission Bay and Parnassus food and retail options.