It seems that Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom’s business empire has its eyes on Valencia Street. According to public records, PlumpJack Group has purchased Luna Park. We’re told the long-standing Valencia Street restaurant will be turned into a bar.
When reached by phone, owner AJ Gilbert said Luna Park will close by the end of the year. He stressed that all of the current employees would be invited to stay on with the new business, and that he is “really excited about who’s buying” the location. While he declined to inform Uptown Almanac as to the identity of the new owner, he said that it is a “great buyer” and that the new bar will be “a great addition to the neighborhood.”
Business records filed with the state say that Luna Park’s new owners, Gaslight Cafe Partners, are located at 3138 Fillmore St. That is the same address as MatrixFillmore, a Marina ultra lounge known for its bottle service, fireplaces, and being popular with pickup artists. MatrixFillmore is owned by PlumpJack Group, which was founded by the Lieutenant Governor. Newsom is still a partner in the business and “consults with the management team on matters of vision.” PlumpJack is currently run by Newsom’s sister.
Asked for additional detail as to why Gilbert was selling the seemingly successful business, Gilbert explained that he is preemptively closing Luna Park to avoid projected increases in labor costs. Specifically, he mentioned the upcoming vote to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour, which he believes is assured passage. Gilbert went on to say that the restaurant industry allows for employees to rise through its ranks and that his General Manager started as a bus boy 15 years ago, but that “waiters do not need to be making $15 a hour” pre-tip.
“The rising costs in San Francisco is a really important factor [in the decision.]”
Gilbert was adamant that with the rising costs of labor, a restaurant with a large staff offering five separate menus is simply impractical. “I ask everyone to take a look at the amount of employees Luna Park employs, and then to look at the number of employees the new business employs.” The implication being that the new business will have less employees by necessity. While this may seem to contradict his previous statement about all current employees being invited to stay on, it should be noted that restaurant and bar employees often seek new jobs in times of transition. Take Pop’s Bar: the new owner offered the bar’s former staff jobs, but most declined.
When asked about PlumpJack’s involvement in the sale, Gilbert stopped responding to our inquiries.
This post has been heavily edited since its original publication.
[Photos: Allison Busch, UA tipster]