Acclaimed Francisca’s, an affordable SF fine dining gem, has closed after running out of pandemic loan money

Francisca’s, Mission-Bernal’s Italian-Venezuelan restaurant known for its affordable gourmet tasting menu, has closed, according to Chef Manny Torres Gimenez.

Named one of The Chronicle’s 2020 top eateries, the restaurant until recently offered its four-course meal for $ 39 for takeout and alfresco dining. But Gimenez said in an email Monday that he had sublet the Mission District space because it was no longer sustainable. He and his wife used up all the funds they received from a Small Business Administration loan to pay the rent and keep the staff on.

However, he added that he plans to open another restaurant in the future. “That’s a huge ‘yes’ to the right time and place when the quarantine is over,” he said.

The restaurant opened at Mission St. 3047 in Cesar Chavez in 2017 when Gimenez and his wife and partner Katerina redesigned it as a palace after a fire from its previous incarnation. Chronicle restaurant critic Soleil Ho was among the fans of the restaurant.

“Every dinner is full of surprises. Did you know that lasagna made with plantains instead of pasta can be so hearty, so eerily pasta-like? Or that an arepa filled with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil could work so well? ”Ho wrote on her list of top restaurants.

The Pork Ribs and Roasted Veg course at Francisca’s in San Francisco in 2019.

Patricia Chang / Special on The Chronicle 2019

Gimenez and Katerina have run several restaurants near Francisca’s for over 10 years, including some short-lived but popular concepts like Coco Frio, which closed in 2016, and Roxy’s Cafe, which they closed in 2014. Gimenez and his oversized personality is often cited as part of the appeal of its restaurants. The Venezuelan native is open to his commitment to offering quality food at an affordable price.

CapriKid D'mark Williams serves cocktails and drinks at Francisca's in 2019.

CapriKid D’mark Williams serves cocktails and drinks at Francisca’s in 2019.

Patricia Chang / Special on The Chronicle 2019

Although this was his last restaurant, he maintains a positive attitude and said he was looking for new partners, either for a new Francisca’s or another restaurant.

“I was a Venezuelan ‘ambassador’, now I am a California ‘ambassador’,” he said, “and everywhere I go I will represent our colors highly.”

Tara Duggan is the assistant food editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @taraduggan

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