Side Note

A beloved Bay Area restaurant is closing because staff can’t afford the Bay Area

In theory, the Napa County restaurant Terra shouldn’t be closing. During its thirty-year history, the wine bar has accrued a coveted Michelin star, glowing reviews in the San Francisco Chronicle, and a steady stream of customers. According to owners Lissa Doumani and Hiro Sone, who spoke to the Napa Valley Register, Terra is even profitable.

The problem is staffing. On June 2, the beloved restaurant will shutter its doors because it doesn’t have enough employees who can afford to pay the Bay Area’s exorbitant housing prices. To commute to Terra, which is located in the Napa County town of St. Helena, cooks and wait staff reportedly had to travel as many as 62 miles each way from areas with more affordable housing, according to the Register.

Recounting her struggle to hire enough workers, Doumani told the paper, “It is so difficult to find someone; there are so many more businesses opening, and housing is so limited and expensive.”



Cheryl Young, an economist for Trulia, found that in nearby San Francisco, only 0.1% of restaurant staff can find affordable housing in the city. With the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment at an insane $4,373, according to a 2017 rent report by Adobo, the restaurant worker shortage is emanating out of the city and into regions like Napa.

So it turns out millennials aren’t killing restaurants. Our hellish housing market is.