Weird Fish is closing forever, because the Mission

Remember that period in 2009 or so when it seemed like all we ever did was blog about Weird Fish? Well we haven’t mentioned them in a couple years now, and I’m sad to say this just might be the last time. Mission Local reports:

After two years of trying to revamp Dante’s Weird Fish and open a new place at the site The Corner once occupied, the owner Peter Hood has “thrown in the towel” and sold both businesses to another restaurateur who will install two new places

The Mission, he said, was over saturated and overregulation, like Healthy San Francisco, a mandate that requires businesses with 20 or more employees to provide health benefits for them, made it more taxing to do business. He added that he’s tired of the countless startups such as Groupon and other discounters trying to become middlemen between him and his customers.

“I will say that, across the board, anyone who’s been around the Mission all felt that the pie was getting slightly smaller,” he said about the abundance of restaurants in the Mission. “What can you do there with so many new businesses and seats?”


“This is not some sort of ‘I am a vindictive person.’” He said. “I’ve loved the Mission. I think it is an amazing neighborhood and I love everything about it. It’s just not very friendly to small businesses.”

(Emphasis mine.) Weird Fish will remain open through the end of 2014. Read on for more quotes and the scoop on the new owner’s plans for the spaces.

And now, a complete history of Weird Fish coverage through the ages:

36 Responses to “Weird Fish is closing forever, because the Mission”

  1. Seriously says:

    I am so darn sick of restaurant owners complaining about having to provide health care. I have been a business owner for almost 30 years and guess what, all of my employees have expected health benefits and my companies have always provided them. Why is it that restaurant owners think they shouldn’t run their businesses like every other business? Not to mention what they are required to provide is far LESS than what employees in other sectors regularly get.

    When you make your business plan for your restaurant you factor in any cost you can upfront. Knowing that you need to provide some kind of fund for health care is something that you can plan for and if a owner of any company doesn’t do that, it’s on them. Can you imagine an accounting firm adding a health care charge to every client’s bill cause the firm is pissy they have to provide their employee with benefits. The public and the industry would be outraged yet the restaurant owners in SF act like they are the victims of some horrible unbelievable burden.

    Also the food at Weird Fish had gone way down since the name change and the last bit of drama this gentleman had. Perhaps he’ll take some business courses before he starts another venture or maybe working for someone who think they don’t have to give him benefits will change his mind.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Well said. If you can’t afford to provide a living wage/benefits for your employees, then you do not have a viable business plan.

      • lucy says:

        Whilst I hate this complaint too, it must be tough for people that employ so many tipped staff. I really wish it was a more acceptable thing to ban tipping in your restaurants and instead just charge enough to pay all staff a living wage with health benefits.

        • Joe says:

          if restaurants had to pay the prorated wage to cover the absence of tips, nobody could afford to eat there. People in service will not deal with being in service for $20 an hour. I’ve been in service my entire adult life and if I don’t make my minimum, I leave for another job. There is a very slim profit margin in restaurants as is, that’s why so many fail. Do you really want ALL prices to go up by 20-30% in all restaurants with waitstaff and bartenders? That would be the minimum increase. I never expected health care, I usually make enough that I can afford my own.

          • S says:

            Not sure if that’s true. In most of Europe people in the service industry do not get tipped. The food is slightly more expensive as a result but at the same time, how often do you go out to eat and not tip? You’re going to pay the same whether it’s on the bill or at your discretion.

    • Grizzled Mission says:

      Agreed. The surcharge thing is an outrage. Your costs are your costs. The only reason to add a line item to your bill is to draw attention to THE TERRIBLE WRONG YOU ARE SUFFERING. As you note, to be “pissy.” “This will be added to your bill, UNTIL YOU REPEAL THIS INJUSTICE.” I would boycott all restaurants that do this, if it weren’t for the fact that almost all of them do these days.

      • mohondoro says:

        Wait… what… there’s a surcharge on the bill for employee health benefits? What a pathetic wanker this guy is! The food service industry is known for its incredibly low wages and, since all the restaurants are subject to the same rules, there’s no question if it being unfair or putting them at a disadvantage with their competitors. In future, I’ll be sure to check, before I sit down, whether a restaurant adds such a surcharge. I won’t eat at places that do.

        • Grizzled Mission says:

          I do not know if *his* restaurants apply the surcharge, but it is commonplace in SF.

        • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

          Yup, well said.

        • James O'Boston says:

          Agree. Totally agree. It’s a pissy, whiny, pass-the-buck step by restaurant operators and it’s kinda vile, actually. With Healthy SF they’ve been upset that they’ve had to provide (very minimal, crappy, NOT ACTUALLY INSURANCE) health care coverage for their workers… and are bold enough to shove it in their own customers’ faces as if it’s an injustice.

          By now you have guessed that i’ve really cut back on dinners out in SF. And now that I think about it, the only places that do this are places I really don’t go back to for many reasons, not just the health surcharge but the mediocre /everything/ about the experience.

    • GG says:

      Thank you for articulating this so well. I will sorely miss Weird Fish, but the whining about health care costs is something I’ve really grown tired of from restaurant owners.

  2. R says:

    So his argument is that he has to close because it’s impossible to run a restaurant in the Mission, partly because there’s so many restaurants in the Mission? He lost me there.

    • MrEricSir says:

      ^ YES! And yet somehow all those restaurants continue to make ends meet despite being forced to treat their employees like human beings.

  3. ALWAYS HIGH says:


  4. stiiv says:

    I rather liked Weird Fish, but The Corner never really worked. Sorry to see them go, but not really surprised.

  5. rolling in the mish says:

    too bad he isn’t latino, other wise campos would be all over this, and getting it fixed.

  6. G says:

    wahhhh wahhh wahhh, I own a service business and I pay my employees a decent wage AND provide health and dental benefits. If I put a 3% surcharge on every bill my customers would be LIVID. Payroll and benefits are a COST of doing business. The GGRA tactic of putting a seperate line item for healthy SF is ridiculous, carried to a logical end shuld we have a breakdown of EVERY expens, linens and uniform services 3%, lighting 4%, floor polish.5%…..I say good riddance to Weirdo Fish

  7. Famished says:

    How many of you still go to Delfina? They have the same stupid charge, but they call it “coperto” like they’re in fucking Italy or something. It can add up to 10% of the bill or more since it’s a per person charge. Since coperto means “tip” I usually only leave 10% tip there since the other 10% is on the bill.

    • G says:

      I ask what any charges are, and if they don’t tell me about it BEFORE the bill comes (i.e. on the menu somewhere) I ask to remove it. If that doesn;t work I complain to management, and I will even file a credit card dispute aabout an unauthorized charge

      • James O'Boston says:

        Rock on, G. I like your style.

        BTW I’ve been a retailer in a service industry but don’t have a company now. Back in the day, a chargeback cost at least $35 for the investigation, even if the charge was retained.

    • Truth says:

      actually ‘coperto’ means place setting/silverware

  8. Andy says:

    Can we just chalk this up to a bad name choice? I never wanted to eat there, just because of the name. Nothing’s guaranteed in small biz land. Best not to weigh yourself down with bad basic market research, unless you yearn to hurry onto the ash heap of failed small businesses.

    • GG says:

      Good point — I don’t eat fish, and I lived in SF for years assuming that I should avoid the place, just based on the name. Eventually a fellow vegetarian took me there and introduced me to all the vegan stuff. I was very surprised!

  9. Kim says:

    So glad to see the responses. though I would go further and suggest that we have single payer, so we are not reliant on employers for health care at all.

  10. Jeff says:

    The food and services at all his places too a turn for the worse a couple years ago.

    We used to go to weird fish a couple times a month. It was a fun cheap enough place for a semi-nice night out with my girlfriend. Then they changed the menu to make it less vegetarian friendly and then the food also got crappier.

    More restraints need to send in unrelated people to independently report back on the service and food.

    Also any restrain owner complaining about paying his staff makes me want to go elsewhere.

    Maybe that’s why the service has gotten shitter.

  11. Andrew says:

    - I wanna start a restaurant in the Mission. It’s like a license to print money! I’m gonna be rich and retire to St. Lucia when I’m 40!!

    - Oh wait, everyone else is starting restaurants in the Mission. Better make up some horse shit reason that I have to go out of business, like not being able to get away with paying my workers almost nothing AND not giving them healthcare…

    Screw you dude.

    Also, the person who said that if the average tip was included in the price and there was no tipping expected, that ‘No one could afford to eat there’? DID YOU PROOFREAD THAT STATEMENT? BECAUSE IT SORT OF WINDS UP COSTING THE SAME TO THE CONSUMER, IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT FOR MORE THAN HALF A SEC.

  12. john says:

    HUH? who gives a shit about a store closing? NEXT!

  13. Shannon says:

    Seriously – this is not about healthcare – of COURSE you should provide a living wage that includes healthcare. Or get a new business model. Has anyone who runs a small business in the mission NOT been hit by crazy higher rents? That’s why many unique places are closing leaving room for the gentrificaiton that is coming to 16th and Mission with a new highrise high rent condo. Honestly weird fish you were fine and all, but you had about 4 tables, hard to make revenue up in there I’m sure. and now I find out you’re blaming healthcare for your closing woes? Lets hope your former employees land somewhere the owners care about them, and not begrudge them HEALTHCARE AND A LIVING WAGE.