Pica Pica, Our Favorite Arepas, is Closing
Another day, another small business gone. We’re highlighting Pica Pica Arepas because their arepas were delicious and their people were great. We even had them as part of our Delicious Card, I mean, how many super authentic Venezuelan eateries do we have in the city? The answer is not many, and sadly, soon to be fewer.
Here’s a video of owner Adriana talking about traditional Venezuelan food, it really shows the kind of love that went into Pica Pica’s cuisine:
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Posted by Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen on Tuesday, November 23, 2010
They’ve done wonderful things since the pandemic hit too (like many local small businesses have) they converted their kitchen to make thousands of meals for first responders, the elderly and low income families via Comapss. But they can no longer hold on.
Owner Adriana López Vermut, confirmed the news this week that Pica Pica has to close. In more recent years, office catering had become a larger part of Pica Pica’s business. Delivery had come to make up 25% of the restaurant’s sales last year, with 25% from dine-in customers and 50% from catering, she estimated. Then the pandemic struck, and shelter in place changed everything. She told SFGate this week.
As businesses leave and office buildings empty, so too will be the entire lunchtime economy in the SOMA, FIDI, Embarcadero as well as many, many others.
Pica Pica’s last day will be Aug. 30.
Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen is at 401 Valencia St. in San Francisco.
Here is the goodbye post on Facebook:
Dear Pica Pica family and friends:It is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this. After many months of working…
Full fb post text here:
“Dear Pica Pica family and friends:
It is with a heavy heart that I sit down to write this. After many months of working to run a restaurant during a global pandemic, I have made the incredibly hard decision to close Pica Pica after 14 years in business. We are grateful for so many things and for all of the people that entered our lives through Pica Pica.
Pica Pica has been the perfect vessel for so many good things. This was a labor of love in its purest sense – over 14 years in business, I never paid myself – all of the money we made went back to the business, the team and the community. For now, I want to celebrate what I am most proud of:
I introduced my Venezuelan heritage to my children through food, which was the initial intent of this adventure.
I developed a deeper relationship with my father as a business partner of 14 years. We learned about and from each other, as we created and conceptualized something in partnership.
We introduced Venezuelan cuisine to the Bay Area, making the ‘arepa’ a star. My hope was that when Americans craved something to eat, they would add ‘arepas’ to the list of things they craved. We definitely succeeded in that regard, just judging from the growth in online orders and caterings over the years. I am so proud to have been able to introduce the arepa to so many hungry mouths!
The Food Network recognized us as a restaurant worth showcasing in Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri – a highlight of this journey!
In 2019, the Restaurant Hospitality Group awarded Pica Pica’s Arepa Pabellón the “Best Beef Sandwich” in America.
I learned how to run a business.
We faithfully served the city of San Francisco and offered a safe place for the celiac community, and people with various food needs to eat “good food without compromise.”
I am most proud of how our team and supporters (you!) came together on March 18th, at the onset of Covid19, to serve the families and individuals hardest hit by the shelter in place order in San Francisco. We delivered over 30,000 free meals to our doctors, nurses, homeless, and at-risk communities in just three months. Each meal was made with care and delivered warm. The team and I take a lot of pride in what we accomplished these past six months.
We had a Pica Pica booth at Outside Lands every year of the festival – 12 years in total
I had an amazing time organizing Friday night live music at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, doing cooking demos at schools and libraries, Macy’s and Williams Sonoma, sampling mini arepas at wine and food festivals. Introducing the arepa, “Venezuela in a pocket,” one bite at a time
Introducing the arepa and Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen in the Bay Area has been its own reward. I started Pica Pica after my daughter was born in 2006. My father asked how I was going to ensure that my Latin and Venezuelan heritage was alive and palpable for my family. So we decided to open an ‘arepera’ together. We had dreams of making Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen a big company with thousands of restaurants all over the country and share our love for Venezuelan culture and cuisine. We never got to that goal but we survived for fourteen years and my four children along with the tens of thousands of people who ate our food, understand and appreciate my heritage. So I consider Pica Pica an enormous success.
What I am most proud of is my amazing team. This week I had to share this news with my 14 employees. On average they have been at the company for 4.5 years -considered a long time in the restaurant business. We have an incredible group of hard-working, honest, dedicated people who became family. I am so proud of them and so sad to let them down.
I am sad to let each of you down too. I know that many of you have come to love Pica Pica. I have so much gratitude for your loyal support. Thank you.
Our last day operating out of Valencia Street will be August 30th. We hope you can take the time to come by, say hello, and grab a last good bite.
While this location will close, my mind and heart remain open to new possibilities for the Pica Pica brand, unique flavors, and cheeky sense of humor. I don’t know what that might be, but I do believe there’s something special that could manifest in new ways in the future.
With gratitude and a full heart and many memories,
Adriana López Vermut, Proprietor
Lucero Rivera, Store Manager
Luis “Chipi” Machado, Operations Manager
Manuel Canul, Head of Production
Constantino Cisneros, Line Cook
Beningno Gomez, Head of Prep
Angel Guadalupe, Line Cook
Cirilo Guadalupe, Production team
Marvin Lopez Iteriano, Dishwasher
Raul Teran, Arepa maker
Noe Urbano, Line cook
Oscar Cancho Canul, Line cook
Maria Centeno, Shift leader
Angie Zambrano, Shift leader
Yesica Gonzalez, Shift leader
For Venezualen catering their is still Las Marias Venezuelan Kitchen in SF hooking it up! You can find them at: VenezuelanKitchenSF@gmail.com