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Our Long National Nightmare is Over: John's Grill Reclaims Maltese Falcon

Well, almost.

After the original Maltese Falcon was swiped in February from the glass case at John's Grill, owner John Konstin tried his best to recover the prized movie icon, even going so far as to offer a $25,000 reward. Alas, when the bird failed reappear, Konstin commissioned the Academy of Art to sculpt a new one, and now with the project nearly complete, yesterday marked a sneak peek at the new model. Traditionalists will be disappointed to hear that the falcon's memorable shape (right) has been ditched for a cartoony, steroid-infused design:

Art Professor Peter Schiffrin and students Zach Roberts and Ah Young Jeon spent the better part of a month slapping the thing together from a chunk of clay. It's a lot bigger than the movie falcon, with more detail and fiercer eyes.

"The movie falcon is droopy, saggy and pudgy," Schiffrin said. "This one is more anatomically correct. It's more falcony."

As for John's Grill, it has long been a San Francisco institution, but for some reason, the Ellis Street mainstay seems to get lost in the restaurant shuffle at times, with people unwilling to look beyond the iconic statue. But for our money, it's tops among places to get a solid old school steak-and-potatoes meal. Or, of course, the Sam Spade special: chops, a baked potato and sliced tomatoes.
· Sneak preview of new Maltese Falcon replica at John's Grill [Chron]
· $25,000 Offered For Return Of Maltese Falcon [KTVU]