A building with a mural on it.
The Sycamore on Mission Street between 16th and 17th streets. February 23, 2024. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

The Sycamore, a neighborhood spot for beer, wine and pub fare is asking the community to chip in to help pay for $3,750 worth of repairs on a canopy damaged during a heavy rainstorm last month. 

“That’s a big lift for a little bar,” wrote Tim Ryan, who runs the bar on Mission between 16th and 17th streets, along with his sister, Liz. 

Ryan set up a GoFundMe campaign on Thursday. So far, it has raised more than $1,600 from 33 donations.

A wooden bench next to a pool.
The canopy and outdoor patio at The Sycamore. February 23, 2024. Photo by Kelly Waldron.

“Are you serious?” Ryan said he thought, upon receiving the bill to fix the canopy. The tarp-like structure that covers the outdoor seating area at the back of the bar had untethered from the wall, and needed repairs from a specialist. 

The canopy had been installed during the pandemic, for upwards of $10,000: Steep price, but worth it, Ryan said. The canopy has allowed the Sycamore to use the outdoor space all year round. 

But the new repair is the latest in a long list of setbacks for the bar. Since the pandemic, rent has doubled, the owners have been left with considerable debt, and the cost of goods has gone up.  

“It’s getting better, but it’s still a struggle,” said Ryan.

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Kelly is Irish and French and grew up in Dublin and Luxembourg. She studied Geography at McGill University and worked at a remote sensing company in Montreal, making maps and analyzing methane data, before turning to journalism. She recently graduated from the Data Journalism program at Columbia Journalism School.

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  1. “Since the pandemic, rent has doubled”

    This is the REAL “doom loop.” We are still experiencing historic residential and commercial vacancy rates, but one small business after another is getting hammered by greedy landlords with massive rent increases, despite the collapse in demand. “Simple supply & demand.” lol, AYFKM? Many cherished longtime businesses have closed, only to leave empty storefronts in their wake that quickly become neighborhood blight. The only answer our political class has is to expand the powers of the police to trample the Constitution. When are greedy landlords — the actual source of the “doom loop” — going to be held accountable?

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    1. “massive rent increases”

      I don’t think you understand. Unlike residential leases where the rent goes up annually, commercial leases are very long: typically 10, 15 or even 20 years. During that period the rent is fixed. So at renewal the rent has to go up a lot, to cover many years’ worth of inflation.

      Any business knows that, or should do. So to act shocked and demand a bailout when it is entirely predictable, is a tad naive.

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  2. The leases typically have annual rent bumps built in to them when originally negotiated. It’s good for tenants so they can plan ahead. However, when your business runs pretty thin and then you get a pandemic and market rents have increased significantly as well, a lot of the planning for the eventual extension negotiations goes out the window. And the bar owner can only push so much cost to customers before they go to the spot down the block. It ain’t easy. I don’t think naive is a fair description of the tenant in most cases. They are very much aware of the train coming down the tunnel towards them but have limited options to dodge it. You can’t avoid all risks while running food/retail.

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