Today’s episode is with Jennifer Bennett, an owner of the 28-year-old Zazie in Cole Valley, a San Francisco Legacy business well-known for its eggs Benedict, legendary home fries, and the kindest staff, as well as its progressive business practices. (She is also the owner of Lovina in Calistoga.) Early this year, in January of 2020, after owning Zazie for 15 years and working there for 20, Jennifer sold the restaurant to three long-time employees, although she remains a 25-percent owner and oversees the business.
But when the shutdown happened, she sprang into action like a two-hundred-percent owner, fighting hard for her 38 employees, and draining her 401K, maxing her home equity loan, and selling her life insurance policy to do anything to help keep the business afloat. After hemorrhaging all available funds, and with takeout business just not covering what they needed in order to operate and make payroll, they made the hard decision to temporarily close Zazie.
But 10 days later, a Covid miracle of miracles happened, and they just received a PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan, enabling them to reopen and be able to pay their employees. On the day of our interview, it was Zazie’s reopening day, with a new online menu for takeout, and new kits for Mother’s Day. Jennifer shares with us her perspective on navigating this brutal business experience, as well as some plans and ideas about what the future of reopening Zazie for dining could look like. As one of our city’s most progressive restaurateurs, this interview is one to listen to.
Zazie, https://www.zaziesf.com, 941 Cole St., San Francisco
1. Izzy’s Steaks, https://www.izzyssteaks.com; Feed Frontline Hospital Workers GoFundMe: https://www.izzyssteaks.com/izzys-feeds-frontline-hospital-workers.
2. The Melt, https://www.themelt.com; Melting Hearts for Hospitals: https://www.themelt.com/mh4h-2020.
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