OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - At Oakland's Jack London Square Monday evening, patrons got a shock finding that the longtime landmark Kincaid's restaurant had abruptly shut its doors over the weekend. A sign on the door thanked people for their patronage and said it was permanently closed.
"We've probably been coming here over 20 years," said Lucy Greco, a Berkeley resident who came to meet friends for dinner, "If it's because they just couldn't survive, that's just too sad. They seemed very busy every time we were here."
The parent company, Restaurants Unlimited, had filed for bankruptcy in July and was recently bought by Houston-based Landrys, which owns Bubba Gump, Morton Steakhouse, and McCormick and Schmicks restaurant brands.
Across the Bay in San Francisco, another restaurant was closing.
The line was out the door at Dosa's on Valencia as patrons came to the small South Indian restaurant to say good-bye on it's final day.
Owner Anjan Mithra says the price of doing business was too high.
"It was like death by a thousand cuts. We just got hit by a lot of different things. I think the city became really difficult to do business in," said Anjan Mithra, co-founder of Dosa on Valencia.
Mithra said the rent now is three times higher than when they opened 15 years ago and labor costs have increased with city mandates for a higher minimum wage, health care, and other benefits that also ate into his bottom line.
"The big thing was the labor that went up from 33% to 45%," said Mithra.
Dosa's owner says they'll keep their two other spots open but just can't make the numbers work here at the original site.
'It's really tough, It's the perfect storm. Rising rents, labor costs at an all-time high, labor shortage in the industry and then we just got to a point where there were so many restaurants and so much competitions, with all of those things compounding things, people leaving the industry," said Gwenyth Borden, a hospitality consultant with Ground Floor Experiences.
Longtime Oakland restaurateur Chris Pastena, who owns Chop Bar and Calavera, says Oakland is seeing the same cost increases and struggles as San Francisco. He re-opened Tribune Tavern a few weeks ago, after selling one of his restaurants Lungomare in Jack London Square.
"We are 100% for the minimum wage and minimum wage increase but it does affect our business. And we have such small margins we have to manage how we conduct business and manage costs," said Pastena.
He says the popularity of food delivery services, which can take 15-30% per order, have also cut into profits.
He says he hopes Jack London Square listens more to its tenants and their needs. He also hopes cities and the state will try to partner more with small businesses to support their needs and recognize their challenges.
"We would love to have a way we could kind of work with the city and the state on managing other costs such as workman's compensation and health insurance," said Pastena.
Borden says she anticipates more restaurant closings as the industry reshapes itself to technology and people's new dining habits.