Going out for lunch breaks with co-workers may feel like a distant memory, but many of our favorite food businesses in Bayview are now bringing their tasty flavors to our home offices and serving daily meals to food insecure communities.
Bayview Bistro, which began as a community food hub and small business incubator on Third Street, is now meeting the demand for on-the-go food options by providing packaged meals to people in need and creating the Bayview Bistro Box. This shift has helped vendors of color adapt to shelter-in-place, expand their small business operations, and even increase revenue.
SFPUC’s Social Impact Firms, community organization En2action, and the Office of Economic and Workforce Development partnered to launched Bayview Bistro in July 2019. The initiative aims to help Bayview food businesses prepare for economic growth opportunities and a potential influx of new customers, including construction workers and contractors building groundbreaking capital projects at the Southeast Treatment Plant and the new Southeast Community Center. Within its first few months in summer 2019, Bayview Bistro quickly transformed a formerly vacant lot into a popular eatery and gathering space where a rotating lineup of local pop-up vendors and food trucks attracted thousands of new customers.
When shelter-in place hit, Bayview Bistro had to find new ways to reach customers and support its vendors who relied heavily on foot traffic at the Third Street physical location. Pre-packaged meals were the answer.
Bayview Bistro On-the-Go is a new catering program that delivers ready-to-eat individually-packaged meals for local schools, community organizations, and small businesses. Through a partnership with SF New Deal, Bayview Bistro On-the-Go has also been able to provide daily meal bags that include breakfast, lunch, and dinner for seniors and people with disabilities.
The second innovation is the Bayview Bistro Box, a pre-packaged family-style meal that features pre-cooked entrees, sides, and desserts based on a rotating weekly menu of items from Bayview Bistro vendors. The Bistro Boxes are available in six options, featuring both a vegetarian Plant-Forward Box and a meat-based Omnivore Box.
Vendors currently participating in the Bayview Bistro On-the-Go and Bistro Box programs are Big H BBQ, Gumbo Social, Peaches Patties, Rome’s Kitchen, Vegan Hood Chefs, Yes Pudding, and Yo Soy Ceviche. Their Mac & Cheese, BBQ Ribs, Chicken Alfredo, Veggie Stir Fry, Collard Greens, Black Eyed Peas, Banana Pudding, and many more delicious dishes are sure to make your mouth water! Taste for yourself by ordering at www.BayviewBistroSF.com.
Both new programs have helped Bayview Bistro vendors stabilize their business operations and expand their revenue streams during the pandemic. In only their first three months from June to August 2020, Bayview Bistro-On-the-Go and Bistro Boxes collectively generated over $85,000 in total income for Bayview Bistro vendors, a 63% increase from total vendor income over the prior nine months.
“I didn’t have anywhere else to get business because of COVID-19. I would have had to go out of business if it wasn’t for Bayview Bistro. It has helped me employ and give jobs to people who rely on them for paying their bills. I was able to establish a payroll system, an ordering system, and able to hire four employees,” said Nory Hanson, owner of Yo Soy Ceviche.
“Before the Bistro Box and SF New Deal, I had gotten laid off from my full-time employment. I had been in the house for a month and a half, depressed. The Bistro Box gave me a reason to get up, get out, and get moving. Being able to work in the commissary kitchen eliminated a huge barrier to entry, allowed me to put money toward other expenses, and took off this huge burden of having to pay for kitchen time. Being associated with Bistro has helped get my name out there,” said Dontaye Ball, owner of Gumbo Social.
The success of Bayview Bistro vendors is also attributed to technical assistance. Every vendor involved with Bayview Bistro receives hands-on support with marketing and promotion, creating menus, obtaining catering permits, registering as a City-approved vendor, and other opportunities that help their small businesses grow. Through a partnership with Eclectic Cookery, vendors are provided a formal kitchen space to prepare their meals and develop skills to operate out of a commercial kitchen. In addition, many Bistro vendors received financial assistance through the Bayview Small Business Resiliency Phoenix Fund to help minimize business losses related to COVID-19.
Sponsors for Bayview Bistro include SFPUC’s Social Impact Firm Partners Black and Veatch, Brown and Caldwell, Emerson, Jacobs, and Sundt Walsh JV. Through the Social Impact Partnership Program, SFPUC awards points in the competitive bidding process to contractors who have a robust plan for giving back to the communities they are working in, without passing those costs on to ratepayers. The contractors supporting Bayview Bistro are working to upgrade SFPUC’s Southeast Treatment Plant located in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood.
Our Agency believes that as we build our critical infrastructure, we must also build more just communities. SFPUC is the first public utility in the country to implement a Social Impact Partnership Program that advances partnerships between its contractors and local communities.
Other examples of the SFPUC Social Impact Partnership Program in action include the Maisin Scholar Award, which provides financial support for local youth to pursue higher education and CityWorks, which offers paid internships for young adults from the City’s Southeast neighborhoods.