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Arinell Pizza in the Mission Might be Closing

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Arinell Pizza on a pre-pandemic night. Photo by Derek D. on Yelp

San Francisco is famous for many things, but pizza is not one of them. We’ve got a few really great options like Golden Boy and Tony’s but we are not a pizza town. That said, whenever anyone tries to rank the best slices in SF, Arinell Pizza always makes it towards the top of the list. Some people will throw down for that shit, saying it’s the closet thing to NYC pizza around. And they aren’t wrong.

Unfortunately the news broke on SFGate on Friday that Arinell, may be closing down permanently. Owner Ron Demirdjian told Madeline Wells of SFGate, “We’ll be closing soon if we don’t get an increase in business. The pandemic, of course, destroyed the business.”

This is obviously a very bad thing for pizza lovers or even just people looking to stuff their faces after a night at the bars.

Sitting just about on the corner of 16th St. and Valencia, Arinell has been a Mission District institution for 33 years. As Wells explains in her article:

Upon realizing there was no true New York-style pizza available in the Bay Area when he first moved here in the ’70s, Demirdjian opened his first Arinell’s location in Berkeley in 1975, followed by the San Francisco location in 1989. He explained that while the Berkeley location is doing alright, a combination of factors put the Valencia Street location in dire straits.

Demirdjian explained that currently, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is the only thing keeping Arinell afloat and as that’s running out, it doesn’t look like the pizza joint can continue on. On top of that he’s had major staffing issues. Plus the late night drunk business hasn’t picked up, and that’s where Arinell made a large portion of their money.

Dan Rincon, dummer for famous SF band Thee Oh Sees, worked at Arinell for a number of years and told Broke-Ass Stuart editor Katy Atchison:

I was there from ages 20 or 21 to 23 or 24, probably 2006-2009. I started out as the cashier and then eventually became a cook, there were only 2 people working at a time for each shift. I left because I got a better paying opportunity but as a young broke punk in San Francisco, Ron, the owner paid well and took care of his employees…there aren’t many places like Arinell left. I haven’t spoke to anyone that works there now. It sounds like the Berkeley location is staying open but I think the SF one is iconic.

Hopefully this serves as a wakeup call for all the folks who rave about Arinell’s NYC style pizza. If we want to make sure it’s there for our drunken shenanigans in the future, we’ll have to eat a bunch of pizza very soon.

I can imagine worse fates.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website BrokeAssStuart.com is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, Geek.com and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.

1 Comment

  1. Jay Stone
    April 10, 2022 at 5:19 am — Reply

    Business is falling off because of the pandemic, but also because their location is the bulls-eye center of violent crime in the Mission, especially at night. The Citizen app for iphone is live for crimes reported to the police, and Mission Street from 14th to 24th has violent crime every day, and sometimes multiples per day. Frankly it’s not safe at night, and the later at night it gets, the more dangerous it becomes. And since not all crimes are reported to the police, the actual number occuring has to be greater. Many of the residents know that, so that’s why they’re not getting the same level of business after the bars close…the bars arent getting the same number of customers either.

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