Tadich Grill, San Francisco’s oldest restaurant and the third-oldest in the country at 171 years old, found out this week it would receive up to $31,000 a month to help it stay afloat after being almost entirely closed since March due to the pandemic.
The money is coming from the Barstool Fund, a $19 million pool founded by the controversial sports website Barstool Sports with funding from the company, as well as donations from celebrities and the general public. The fund supports small businesses impacted by the pandemic and related shutdown of restaurants and other businesses. The Buich family that owns the classic seafood restaurant learned about the financial support Wednesday.
“The Barstool fund is a lifeline,” said Yvette Buich, who runs the restaurant with her husband, Mike. “It does not cover the mounting bills that we have accumulated since we were forced to close in March, but it will help with just the basics in owning a restaurant in the city. The timing could not have been better since all other sources of money are gone or have stopped.”
That includes over $69,000 the restaurant raised through a GoFundMe account, said Buich, who came out of almost eight years of retirement to go back to working as a nurse while the restaurant is closed; she administers coronavirus vaccines at long-term care facilities. Only open for takeout and delivery briefly over the summer, the restaurant was able to pay its employees from March to August by tapping into both business and personal savings, including Mike Buich’s retirement account, said his daughter, Melanie Pipas.
When they applied to the Barstool Fund, they requested $31,000 a month to cover ongoing expenses that haven’t gone away while they are closed, such as property taxes, utilities, insurance and equipment rentals, said Pipas. The family owns the building in downtown San Francisco.
Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy posted a video of a call with Pipas’ sister, Jen Whitaker, about the fund on Twitter on Thursday.
“It’s a no-brainer — you’re out in San Francisco where clearly lockdowns are as bad as they are anywhere,” Portnoy said in the call. “We want to be there. We want to help.”
In a separate video, Portnoy said the Barstool Fund was started with $500,000 from the company and then augmented with crowdfunding, similar to a GoFundMe account. The fund has assisted nearly 90 small businesses, mostly on the East Coast, including restaurants, sports bars, hair salons and dry cleaners. Tadich Grill is the first Bay Area company to receive it.
Pipas said the family was not aware of Portnoy’s history of making racist and misogynistic remarks or the accusations of sexual harassment against him. Last summer, remarks he made in 2016 comparing former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to Osama bin Laden were resurfaced on social media. The Buich family has been embroiled in its own accusations of racism in the past, tied to a family member who is no longer in the business.
“There’s no room for racism and racist comments,” said Pipas. “Wherever in his heart he had the ability to make a meaningful difference for small businesses, he’s doing that, and for that we’re grateful.”
The Buich family members have all repeated multiple times how important the funding is now that government Paycheck Protection Program loans have been used up and the restaurant hasn’t qualified for state or local grants. The family has continued to hear from loyal customers about how much the restaurant means to them, which is one of the main reasons they want to hang on until the city allows indoor dining to resume.
“We feel like we are going to make it now,” said Buich. “This is giving us the boost we need until we can open our doors at at least 50% capacity again.”
Tara Duggan is The San Francisco Chronicle’s assistant food editor. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org