While the shuttering of Restaurant LuLu after 24 years at 816 Folsom Street appears to have caught some by surprise, the writing was on the wall if you knew where to look.

Purchased for $1 million back in 1991, the parcel upon which the restaurant’s 8,600-square-foot building sits is currently only zoned for development up to 55 feet in height. But if San Francisco’s Central SoMa Plan is adopted as proposed, which could happen as early as this May, the height limit for the 816 Folsom Street site will be raised to 180 feet and it’s likely to soon hit the market touting its potential.

Or as we foreshadowed two days before LuLu’s demise: “Expect height limits to dominate the discussion of San Francisco development in 2017. And if you thought they already had, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Orland

    The fact that it is also surrounded by construction (hotel and Central Subway station) cannot have helped. A few blocks further up Folsom, the residential development at Rausch is being cited as a reason for the demise of several places and imperiling Brainwash.

    • Posted by Sam

      Wait, brainwash is in trouble? That’d be sad

    • Posted by marko1332

      Doesn’t appear to impact Zero Zero; quality and service has been in decline for years.

  2. Posted by Bill

    It does seem surprising given we usually see planning applications first.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Not when the owners are positioning to sell an unencumbered parcel versus entitling and/or developing it themselves.

      • Posted by Bill

        Good point. I had assumed they were self developing.

      • Posted by Orland

        Are you saying you have inside information to the effect that Lulu’s lease was coming up which the owner did not want to extend in anticipation of greater future ROI due to forecast upzoning of its property? A trend we might expect to see with other similarly-situated commercial ventures throughout the Central SOMA planning area?

  3. Posted by Orland

    How Trumpian is this thread? Maybe you want to delete the whole thing.

    • Posted by Government Shrinkage

      Yes, censure is the answer political sentiment you disagree with.

    • Posted by Chris

      What is “Trumpian” about a factual article reporting the closing of a restaurant or the very-longed plan and extensively publicly discussed Central Soma Plan? Also, the comments to the article seem pretty bland and are all relevant to the article, except for your bizarre remark.

      Trump is a problem, but this article has nothing to do with him.

      • Posted by Orland

        “Trumpian” in the bizarre disconnect between a restaurant’s abrupt closing and a not-at-all evident correlation with projected zoning changes WE TOLD YOU ABOUT FIRST. Same cock crowing at the sunrise and claiming credit as our banaly moronic PEOTUS.

        • Posted by Chris

          I am not sure SocketSite is “claiming credit” for the closing of LuLu. Also, your comment seems a bit disjointed because it seems almost to imply you think there is no correlation between the proposed zoning and the closure, and yet your second comment seems to suggest you do.

          As for LuLu’s closing, the restaurant had become old and rather tired (unlike when I recall first dining there 15 years ago and enjoyed it). The last time I ate there, both the food and service left much to be desired, and that was after giving it a few opportunities to make up for other disappointing visits. So, I am not so sure the closing has anything to do with the proposed zoning, especially since the restaurant owners have not made any claim that the proposed rezoning had anything to do with their decision to close the restaurant.

      • Posted by Orland

        The “pretty bland” comments on the subject are also noteworthy as they miss what is becoming a very real and disconcerting civic problem: the number of restaurant failures affecting the quality of experience of SF residents/visitors and lives of those in the culinary industry.

        I know that generally is an extremely complex issue involving multifactoral questions both public and private in nature. However, more specific to the subject matter here are the potential effects of the construction phase of developments on their future neighbors. I’m not sure of the role of such considerations in the case of Lulu’s, but it definitely appears to be a significant factor in the doings up Folsom around 7th & 8th related to the Rausch project.

        Perhaps, as a part of the planning and permitting process, more attention should be paid to the developer’s responsibility to mitigate the practical effects of their activity including financial reparations to adjoining property owners to offset their actual monetary losses directly caused by disruptions related to the construction.

        • Posted by Chris

          I do not agree with you. It is not the city’s responsibility to ensure that businesses are indemnified from the risks every business has to face over the course of its life, whether it is through the city directly giving subsidies or requiring others to do so. If you choose to operate a business in a city, you accept the risk that you will likely at times have construction going on around you–that’s life in every city. It is a little different when the the city itself closes down a major street or engages in some major infrastructure disruption, though even then, I have mixed feelings about taxpayer money giving subsidies to a private business–no one pays me for the inconvenience of living on a street that is now under major construction for 3 years (and yet it certainly impacts me).

          Developers already have to pay various impact fees for housing, transit, etc. Right now, that is all the law requires, and all the city can demand.

        • Posted by pablito

          Orland that’s Orwellian. There is no need to confiscate other people’s property to mitigate imaginary impacts to the city’s quality of life. The number of restaurants has doubled in the city over the past 15 years. We have plenty of places to eat in this town.

  4. Posted by BobN

    That they closed so suddenly, with no notice, makes one wonder if something else is afoot.

    • Posted by primeminister

      LuLu isn’t the only restaurant to suddenly shut down. See Chron’s food section. Its a tough, tough business.

    • Posted by ess

      Restaurants almost always close “suddenly.”

  5. Posted by Brad

    I’ll miss the Provençal restaurant, but I won’t miss that hideous faded stucco when it’s been torn down.

  6. Posted by Bobby Mucho

    Sure, it’s sad to see a long-standing business shutter (or at least be urged to relocate) but the fact that a massively underdeveloped lot, adjacent to a soonish to open transit station, begs to reach its potential. Looking forward to seeing how these few blocks of Folsom continue to evolve.

  7. Posted by Gur

    The owner of the 812/816 Folsom parcel is also the owner of the restaurant, which makes the motivations very clear. (She also appears to own next door, 826)

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