Photo: Photo By Caroline T. Via Yelp
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Nearly three decades ago, a few intrepid Frenchmen turned a garbage-strewn alley in the Financial District into a charming mini-French Quarter for San Francisco called Belden Place. Now, Plouf — one of the French bistros in the alley — is closing after 23 years.
Eric Klein, who opened the restaurant in 1996 with partners Olivier Azancot and Jocelyn Bulow, attributes Plouf’s closure to rising rent and labor costs, as well as a changing dining culture in the city.
“It doesn’t really make any money anymore,” said Klein. “We are still busy, but the costs are getting so out of hand.”
Known for its mussels and happy hour dollar oysters, as well as its outdoor seating spilling out into the alley, Plouf felt like a unique find in San Francisco. According to Klein, his Belden Place restaurants were some of the first to bring Parisian terrace-style dining to the city.
Cafe Bastille, which opened in 1990, was Klein and Azancot’s first Belden Place venture. When they realized customers loved the mussels they served at Bastille, they decided to open a new restaurant specially dedicated to mussels: Plouf.
“With the mussels and the atmosphere of the alley, it was really a destination at the time,” recalled Klein.
Historically, Bastille Day has been a particularly festive time for Belden Place — the alley morphs into a full block party for francophiles, complete with French flags, DJs and drinking.
Sauce on Belden, another restaurant in the alley, closed in July. Garcon, a French restaurant in the Mission that Klein and Azancot were also involved in, closed in March. However, Cafe Bastille and B44 Catalan Bistro, Klein and Azancot’s other restaurant with chef Daniel Olivella, are still up and running.
Plouf will close permanently on Saturday, September 28, according to a Facebook post.
“A lot of people are sad that we closing. But we have to face the reality,” said Klein. “After 23 years, I cannot complain. It was a good run.”
Madeline Wells is an SFGate editorial assistant. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @madwells22
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