Port of SF tells longtime SF waterfront restaurant Sinbad’s it’s time to go 

click to enlarge Sinbad’s, which has had trouble with bounced rent checks and sewage discharges, is slated to close by March 21. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Sinbad’s, which has had trouble with bounced rent checks and sewage discharges, is slated to close by March 21.

Last call is looming for longtime waterfront restaurant Sinbad's.

The restaurant's landlord, the Port of San Francisco, wants Sinbad's gone from its prime location on Pier 2 near the Ferry Building by March 21.

With its unmatched views of the Bay Bridge, Sinbad's has been a waterfront institution in The City since the 1970s. Despite decidedly mixed reviews from diners — along with repeated warnings from the Public Health Department about food-safety issues — the restaurant is a popular cocktail destination for service-industry workers, locals and tourists.

Sinbad's has also been a thorn in the Port's side, documents show.

It has often been late with rent payments and has bounced checks — at one time the eatery owed the Port $220,000. Sinbad's also has caused at least five sewage leaks into San Francisco Bay over the past six years, the most recent of which was in January, according to a Port memo.

The restaurant is currently in the clear with its rent after paying $142,000 to the Port. But other major agencies along the waterfront say it is past time for Sinbad's to go.

The Port is on notice from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, which oversees waterfront activity, to demolish Pier 2 entirely by March, a deadline agreed to during the negotiations leading up to the America's Cup regatta in 2013.

An expansion of The City's downtown ferry terminal is also on hold until the restaurant leaves. That terminal is a vital transit hub for the Water Emergency Transportation Agency, which is tasked with figuring out how to evacuate San Francisco via water in the event of a disaster that knocks out the Bay Bridge and/or BART Transbay Tube.

Sinbad's owners, the Stinson brothers, agreed to go.

The restaurant said in 2012 it would close by Dec. 31, 2014. At that time, co-owner Tom Stinson thanked the Port for allowing the restaurant to stay until then. But last summer, Sinbad's asked for and received an extension from the Port to stay until March 21 of this year, with the stipulation that there would be no more extensions.

Then on Dec. 22, the Port received another request from the Stinsons to allow Sinbad's to stay longer, this time until 2016.

On Thursday, Stinson told The San Francisco Examiner that WETA is not scheduled to start construction on the new ferry terminal until 2016. Stinson said the restaurant could easily stay until then without issue while searching for a new waterfront location, possibly at a nearby Embarcadero building about to be vacated by Amtrak.

"They don't need it until spring of next year," Stinson said about WETA. "No harm, no foul."

That would require intervention from the Port to the Bay Conservation and Development Commission on Sinbad's behalf, and the Port appears to be standing firm.

Port officials told Stinson in a Friday letter that they are "unable to extend your stay at Pier 2 beyond March 21, 2015."

"We anticipate you will comply," wrote senior Port property manager Elsa Lamb, who asked the Stinsons to also schedule an "exit walk-through."

It's unclear if the Port will go as far as to call in sheriff's deputies to evict Sinbad's. Plans to demolish Pier 2 are underway, Port staffers said this month.

The restaurant last year reported $2 million in annual revenue — lower than most other Port restaurant tenants — and pays about $23,500 a month in rent.

Between 32 and 48 people work at the restaurant, depending on the season, and they are members of the union Unite Here Local 2.

Many of them have worked at the eatery since the 1980s, Stinson said, and would likely be out of work unless Sinbad's receives another reprieve and time to find a new home.

"It's another nine months," he said. "Show me where the harm is."

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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