Two San Francisco restaurants requiring boosters to dine-in

Two San Francisco restaurants, Cassava and the Zuni Cafe, are among the first in the city to require proof of a booster for patrons dining inside. It was back in August that San Francisco became the first major city to restrict indoor dining to vaccinated patrons.

With the omicron variant on the rise in the Bay Area, the owners of Cassava in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood were worried that the city’s indoor vaccine requirement wasn’t doing enough.

"We want to create a safe working environment for us," said Yuka Ioroi, co-owner of Cassava.

Ioroi polled customers online and she says those responding were overwhelmingly in favor of the booster requirement.

"Our clientele tend to be very safety forward, so I wasn’t really surprised," said Ioroi.

"I think it’s necessary at this point, at least for the protection of the staff," said patron, Stephen McNeil.

Cassava's staff are all now boosted against Covid-19, but the owners are still worried about the booster status of customers walking through their doors.

"Because this particular disease from the beginning is known to have you lose sense of taste and smell, which is detrimental for our careers," said Ioroi.

The SF Bar Owner's Alliance, which was among the first hospitality group in the Bay Area to call for a tightening of Covid-19 protocols, weighed in on boosters on Wednesday.

"We’re looking at all options. Everything is on the table to keep our customers and our staff safe," said Ben Bleiman, President of the SF Bar Owner's Alliance.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association also released a statement Wednesday saying in part: "We recommend that restaurants require boosters of all employees as soon as possible." 

But the association's executive director, Laurie Thomas, stopped short of recommending the same requirement for indoor patrons. 

At last count only 49 percent of all vaccinated San Francisco residents have received the additional shot. Thomas said she was concerned that the additional booster requirement could have the effect of, "severely limiting the number of prospective customers."

But Chef Nate Norris of the Zuni Café in San Francisco had a decidedly different view. The upscale Hayes Valley eatery is planning to soon start requiring boosters for customers dining inside.

"We stand to lose way more business because we would have to shut the restaurant down because people are infected, or shut the restaurant down because there is a Covid surge in the community," said Norris.

Zuni Cafe says it plans to start implementing its booster requirement for indoor dining on Dec. 29.