It's a third pivot for the space downstairs from Che Fico, where Che Fico Alimentari will be calling it quits on May 9 to make way for a more high-volume to-go operation and more private dining space.

Che Fico Alimentari was itself a pivot from the initial concept that occupied the space at 834 Divisadero in 2018, called Theorita. The team announced in mid-2019 that the casual, sit-down Alimentari would be opening, with a small retail market for pantry items, grab-and-go lasagna and other dishes, and a limited sit-down menu of pasta and pizza for casual dining.

Chef-owner David Nayfeld writes in an Instagram post, "Che Fico Alimentari was our most dynamic venue pre-pandemic: spry, vibrant, and thrilling to launch." But, he says, the economics of it have changed. And, as he tells the Chronicle, "Che Fico Alimentari in 2019 did great. In 2024, it doesn’t work. Each year more and more and more business models are becoming extinct."

Whether it was the business model, or people's spending habits, or just the fact that the restaurant had hit the five-year mark and had competition from newer restaurants, the owners have decided to pivot to Che Fico To-Go, unifying the upstairs restaurant with the downstairs space.

Che Fico To-Go will offer a limited takeout menu based on the upstairs offerings, focusing on popular items like pizza, chopped salad, and tiramisu.

Most nights, Che Fico has been too busy to offer anything to go, and Nayfeld says that was starting to become an issue.

"There was a huge demand for it, and then the folks who wanted to order something and realized it wasn’t available were disappointed," he told SFGate. "We realized we were hurting ourselves more."

Utilizing the downstairs space will also offer the team more flexibility when it comes to private dining and hosting larger parties. And Nayfeld tells the Chronicle that he plans to host small, exclusive chef's-counter dinners in the space as well. The Che Fico liquor license will also extend downstairs, allowing for cocktails to be sold.

The closing announcement comes as Che Fico prepares to open a full-time pizzeria at Chase Center (in Thrive City), as well as a second full-service restaurant in SF that will not be Che Fico-branded, sometime next year, in the Mission Rock development. They also recently debuted a second Che Fico in Menlo Park, alongside a splashy deli and retail market.

While the Che Fico restaurant group remains in expansion mode, it's clear that not all things are sunny in the business, even for them. Responding to diner pushback over the last two years, Che Fico announced the end of their 10% "dining in" surcharge last month, and they had also lowered prices at the Alimentari.

"It’s clear the restaurant industry is challenged right now," Nayfeld tells SFGate. “It’s really tough, and it’s not mismanagement. You have restaurant groups all over the country who are recognizing the fact that consumer spending is lower. People are feeling the effects of the economy. They’re spending and going out less."

An opening date for Che Fico To-Go has not been announced.

Previously: Che Fico Has Done Away With 10% 'Dine-In' Surcharge, But Will Add 5% Charge