Esposto’s Delicatessen in San Mateo has permanently closed its doors, citing revenue losses due to the pandemic and increased rent from its landlord.

The family-owned deli at the Borel Square Shopping Center at 59 Bovet Road in San Mateo had been in operation since 1956 and was known for its sandwiches, pasta and catering options. The deli employed eight people, some of whom worked there for 20 years before it closed.

Owner Bill Esposto, 67, said Dec. 24 was its last day open, and the restaurant vacated at the end of the month. He has spent the last few days since it closed cleaning up the restaurant and moving out equipment. Esposto’s father opened the restaurant in 1956, and Esposto bought it from his father 24 years ago. He has been a part of the store’s operations since he was 10.

“We did weddings over 50 years ago, and then we did their 50th wedding anniversary. That’s how long we have been in this city,” Esposto said. “We have a great family reputation. We have a great product.”

The San Mateo location was doing well until the pandemic when various restrictions and temporary closures occurred. When COVID-19 hit, the business saw a significant decrease in revenue, down to $25,000 to $30,000 a month. The catering revenue from places like Google and other companies also ended with offices closing. Esposto had to return wedding deposits for catering during the summer. The business received a Paycheck Protection Program loan earlier in the year, but the money ran out by summer. He and his family also own a wholesale bakery and a kitchen to go along with his retail locations. All his businesses have taken financial revenue losses during the year.

“We have to make a business decision to close this location because we can’t have indoor seating, we can’t have outdoor seating. It just doesn’t work for our business model,” Esposto said.

Esposto was frustrated with all of the county restrictions on restaurants, which he followed, while other nonrestaurant businesses had fewer restrictions and different rules for operating and closing. San Mateo County is currently under a regional stay-at-home order that has temporarily closed indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and only allows catering operations. Restaurants in San Mateo County have had to temporarily shut down periodically throughout the year due to county COVID-19 restrictions.

One of his other challenges was an increase in rent from the landlords of Borel Square Shopping Center, Finn Capital LLC of San Mateo, Esposto said. The rent was raised from $6,200 to $9,200 in July. He had been trying to reach an amicable agreement with the landlords to find a solution but was unsuccessful. Esposto understood the landlord having to raise the rent, but he would have liked to have been able to find a solution to ensure the business could have stayed at its current location in San Mateo. He successfully found a deal with his San Francisco landlords for that deli location after negotiating a reduced rent but could not reach one in San Mateo. 

“We can’t afford to pay $9,200 in rent when our sales are $30,000,” Esposto said.

Esposto and his family will get through the closure because of his other locations and businesses, but the San Mateo deli was the flagship location and a source of pride for his family. The deli provided a local option that people in the community could visit when they needed platters, pasta or sandwiches. Esposto was proud of its history within San Mateo and helping serve several generations in the community. He always took pride in having a business in San Mateo, sending his kids to school here and bringing them into the restaurant business. The deli supported local weddings, funerals and businesses throughout the area.

“That location, even if it didn’t make money, people knew we were there, and that was our go-to place. People knew we were there, and they could rely on us,” Esposto said.

Despite the closure, Esposto is confident his other businesses will get through the pandemic. He wants to find a different location in San Mateo to reopen but has not yet found a site. No timetable has been set for when they might reopen.

Jan 5 Correction: The article previously incorrectly stated Finn Capital Partners was the landlord who increased the rent at Esposto’s Deli. It is Finn Capital LLC of San Mateo. Information about reaching out to Finn Capital Partners has also been changed for clarity. 

curtis@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102

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(5) comments

Maxine Terner

Steve Finn of Finn Capital was one of the main funders of the No on Y campaign and is the new owner of the Borel shopping center. Perhaps the passage of Y will tamper some of the real estate speculation that has fueled the displacement of homes & small businesses. 

Patrick Henry

Maxine, thank you for the tidbit of information. Interesting to know. Steve Finn? we will have to check into this person.

craigwiesner

This is heartbreaking! We've loved the sandwiches we've gotten there and the wonderful conversations with the owner and the terrific and friendly staff. It is simply CRAZY that the landlord raised the rent $3,000 a month in the midst of this pandemic. Shame on them. As a small business owner here in San Mateo I have seen too many businesses driven out by rising rents. It infuriates me to see so many completely empty storefronts, month after month after month after month, with landlords who don't seem to care. My guess is that their property tax payments, shielded from increasing by Prop 15, are low enough that the landlords don't mind their properties sitting empty while they wait for the market price to increase. Perhaps cities could impose a special tax on properties that go unoccupied for more than six months which might encourage landlords to do the right thing and make it easier for smaller businesses to open, survive and thrive. Cities, counties and the state lose tax revenue when storefronts sit empty. We need to find ways to encourage those properties to be full, serving the community, and successful.

Craig

Wasn't the original San Mateo location in Hayward Park ~80s? Maybe a location there or down near the American Legion could work.

Patrick Henry

Very sad to hear. I can't count how many sandwiches I have purchased from Esposto's over the decades. Hopefully they can open back up after the pandemic is over, the owners need to know they have many fans in the community.

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