Anthony LaVia removed the items one by one from the half-disassembled brewhouse. To his left was a candy vending machine. Nearby, a dismantled blue painting of a Latina woman leaning against the wall – all relics of the now closed Lupulandia.
Brasserie Lupulandia, the Tijuana-themed beer hall at 2243 Mission St. near 18th Street, has closed after three years, said co-owner Anthony LaVia, who also owns the Beauty Bar a few blocks away. Although young blood compared to other businesses in Mission, the pub’s aesthetic design, musical evenings and art quickly created a buzz in Mission nightlife. Ultimately, however, it was no match for the pandemic.
“That’s the most frustrating part,” LaVia said, wearing a red “Not today, Satan” T-shirt. “It’s cognitive dissonance. It’s a resounding success and a total loss, isn’t it? »
In 2019, LaVia and its partners completely renovated the 7,000 square foot space that was New Starlight Furniture, and added two full bars and a full kitchen. They installed colorful tiles, large potted plants, colorful Latin and political paintings, arcade games, and applied for permits from the city to open the roof.
Lupulandia’s outdoor patio quickly became “a gold mine,” LaVia said. In its third month, Lupulandia was close to breaking even. Then less than 100 days, helloooo, pandemic.
The first time Lupulandia closed in 2020, it closed for four or five months. “It was brutal. Really frustrating,” LaVia said.
The brewery received about $200,000 in two rounds of Paycheck Protection Payment Loans, and an additional $100,000 in Restaurant Revitalization Fund loans that went toward payroll and rent, LaVia said. Landlord Graeme N. Cohen offered LaVia an already low rent, but the pub’s massive size meant a decent bill.
Business resumed in summer 2021 and late fall; a decent crowd turned up during the San Francisco Giants’ playoff game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the same day a local art gallery showed his designs there. Then December hit with the omicron variant hit in December and “awful, freezing weather”.
Later that winter, LaVia began receiving requests to re-rent the pub and collaborate on food trucks. But LaVia was watching Mission Street and wasn’t reassured by the still light foot traffic.
Its outdoor patio was no longer a novelty as the restaurants had their own parklets; The Lupulandia parklet didn’t help much as Mission Street “became a ghost town” and was often littered with trash.
And a time-old Mission tale, Valencia Street bounced back and offered additional competition. “I mean, we tried all the things you try to do. But the reality was, [people] go a block to Valencia, and it’s Mardi Gras in the streets. Why would anyone want to come hang out?
“You can literally stand on the sidewalk and just see streams of pedestrians marching towards Valencia,” LaVia said.
In January 2022, Lupulandia temporarily closed, but after crunching the numbers, LaVia realized the brewery might last another month or two. He has decided to quietly pull the plug officially by the end of the month. San Francisco business time first reported on space list.
Building owner Graeme N. Cohen is looking for someone to take over the remaining assets and lease with a new business idea. The assets and the lease, which expires in 2029, will cost $395,000.
It might not be Lupulandia’s last, though. LaVia said it could only be a break of a year or two before trying the concept again in San Francisco or the East Bay. Meanwhile, he continues to work with Lupulandia’s sister restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico, along with his partners. Beauty Bar, he said, is in good hands with the manager.
“I need a year or two just to decompress, travel and get my head together,” LaVia said. “We’ve had so much success, I know it works. In all likelihood, it will work again.