He wanted to open an ice cream shop but San Francisco stopped him

Last October the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece about would-be entrepreneur Jason Yu. Yu wanted to open a small ice cream shop and found a location where he signed lease in June of 2019 and began paying more than $7,000 a month. He then started working his way through the red tape necessary to get the door open for customers. And that’s when it all fell apart.

Yu was required to notify his neighbors about his planned business and one of them, another ice cream shop, objected. Yu was forced to hire an attorney to represent him at the next planning commission meeting. The planning commission eventually voted 7-0 to allow his business, but by that time an entire year had passed.

And still, he wasn’t done. Next he had to deal with the building inspectors because of the minimal, non-structural changes he wanted to make to open the shop. That process also consumed several months. So as of last October when the Chronicle published the story, Yu had been trying to open his ice cream shop for 16 months and had spent $150,000.

Today the Chronicle published a follow up column about Yu. You won’t be shocked to learn that he has given up:

Sadly, there will be no grand opening for Yu and his ice cream shop — and no sweet ending to his bitter tale. After another six months and another $50,000, Yu has abandoned his plans…

“This became a nightmare project,” Yu told me recently, saying he might open a business elsewhere someday. “For sure I will not try to do anything in San Francisco. It just doesn’t make sense.”…

“We were so hyped up, so energized and we had so much excitement to start this project,” Yu said. “But it faded away.”…

“We just burned money. We didn’t achieve anything,” he said. “It shouldn’t be that big of an issue to open an ice cream shop.

Yu, who has two kids, spent a total of $200,000 and never really got close to opening. He was still looking at another $120,000 for construction and several more months of delay before he could have scooped his first ice cream. It just didn’t make sense to keep trying. Now instead of a new business he has a big pile of debt he’ll need to deal with. Meanwhile, he has a cousin who was able to open a nail salon in adjacent Daly City in a matter of months.

While it was too late to help Yu, the city did pass a Prop H which is designed to streamline the process for opening a business in the city. The Chronicle reports that 14 people have submitted applications but so far only 2 have been approved. It doesn’t sound like much but it’s actually an improvement.

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