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SF’s NY-Style Pizza Spot in Danger of Closing After 33 Years

Arinell Pizza, the late-night pizza joint staple on Valencia, may have to close if business doesn’t pick up
By - posted 4/19/2022 No Comment

Sadly, SF Gate shared the news that Arinell Pizza, located at 509 Valencia Street, may have to shut down its restaurant after 33 years, if business doesn’t pick up.

Unfortunately, the New York-style pizza restaurant which first opened its doors in 1975 at 2119 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, says business has slowed considerably since the pandemic and has not picked up significantly to sustain staying open. Thankfully, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has kept the business open thus far, but those funds are running out.

Business has slowed to only 30-40% of what it was prior to the pandemic. The drunk munchie crowd is gone. Arinell Pizza on Valencia used to stay open until 2 am on weekends to slang pizza slices to the bar hoppers, but that crowd is gone. Now, the pizza joint only stays open until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

Arinell Pizza was co-founded by Ron Demirdjian in 1975. His father and grandfather were both bakers in NYC. Ron learned to make pizza from an Italian pizza-maker in his old neighborhood in upper Manhattan. Upon moving to Berkeley in the 70s and learning there was no NY-style pizza here, he opened up his own joint, and has been here ever since. The store in SF, on Valencia, was opened 1989.

Not much has changed at Arinell since then. The pizzas and dough are hand-made, the toppings are simple, just the way it was in Italy–and NY–in the 70s. Ron thinks an unadulterated cheese pizza is “what Arinell is all about,” and if you’re at the store, you might hear him say: “the fewer toppings, the better.”

Demirdjian says,”If we get some more business, we’ve got a chance.”