Majority of San Francisco restaurant owners back vaccine mandate: survey

As many San Francisco bars start requiring customers to prove their vaccination status, there's support among restaurant owners to do the same.

A new survey by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association shows 63% of owners back a vaccine mandate.

But restaurant owners have different ideas about how to move forward safely.

 At Roti Indian Bistro in the West Portal neighborhood, owner Pankaj Shah says his restaurant depends largely on a loyal clientele that's  kept his business afloat during the dark days of the pandemic.

He says his staff is fully vaccinated.

But Shah doesn't plan on requiring customers to show proof of vaccination unless there is a mandate, "If government says so, then we'll do it, but not on our own."

 He says proof of vaccination would also mean requiring the customer to show some form of identification such as a driver's license.

 "We are hoping that it gets required from a government entity," says Laurie Thomas, executive director of Golden Gate Restaurant Association. The results of its new survey show that over 60%  of restaurant owners support requiring  proof of vaccination from customers.

But the association is only recommending  all employees be vaccinated and wear masks   

 "Restaurants are different than bars. We're not used to carding people. We don't have one point of entry. In fact, many of us have 2 to 3 points of entry to the restaurant. And we don't have staff to watch each door," says Thomas. 

At Canela Bistro & Wine Bar in the Castro, owner Mat Schuster says if COVID cases continue to rise in the next week or two, he will require customers to show proof of vaccination. "We're not saying you have to get vaccinated. We're saying that you have to get vaccinated if you want to come in here."

 Back at Roti, the owner says more customers are now choosing to dine outside because of COVID safety concerns.  

Inside, tables are set up with social distancing: six feet apart. 

 "The places that we chose to go to now are the ones we're trying to support to keep alive so whatever they want us to do is what we would do," says restaurant customer Patrick Gallagher of San Francisco.