Evil spirits sure are fussy eaters. San Francisco's renowned restaurant scene has its fair share of churn and turnover, but some addresses still seem doomed even in, shall we say, a diner's market. In honor of the spookiest day of the year, here's a tour of the most notoriously cursed SF spaces, some of whose present tenants may have sent the demons back to the netherworld.
For starters, it's apparent that poltergeists don't like highways. 1772 Market Street, right by Octavia, used to be Carta, Michael's, Octavia Lounge, Rebel and is now a venue named after the address. Meanwhile, the grungy overpass that practically swoops over 1710 Mission Street, currently home to Brick & Mortar Music Hall, may have helped kill off Coda, Levende Lounge and Butterfly.
Sometimes, extreme changes in cuisine displease the spirit world, as 294 9th Street can attest, having served German (Schnitzelhaus) before morphing into a soul food joint (Daddy O's) and then a sushi restaurant (Kama Sushi) that seems to struggle while its Noe Valley location thrives. Meanwhile, at 311 Divisadero, District 5 became the French Metro Café, then the Nepalese Metro Kathmandu until Sharon Ardiana righted the ship with Italian Ragazza.
Beyond restaurants, there's even a cursed brewery in the Inner Sunset, as Golden Gate Park Brewing Company became Eldo's and then Wunder Brewing before the much-beloved Social Kitchen chanted the proper incantation to break the evil spell.
500 Jackson Street is an address in particular need of a young priest and an old priest, with the Cypress Club, Scott Howard, Zinnia and a spot called 500 Jackson all having died there. Current occupant Roka Akor may have cleverly solved the problem by changing the address to 801 Montgomery. Has SoMa cocktail den Driftwood avoided what befell KOK Bar, Chaps II, My Place, Cip and Ramrod? Only time will tell.
But the granddaddy of them all might be 2080 Van Ness, which has been home to at least a dozen restaurants and lounges over the years, most recently Hue L'Amour, The Heights, Tajine, Rendezvous Tapas Lounge and the House of Crawfish and Seafood. (It's now Million Thai). A variation of the restaurant curse results in wonderful locations sitting in perpetual limbo, as bemused followers of La Rondalla or The Patio know all too well.
Market Street in the Castro seems to be especially afflicted with ghouls these past few years. On just two blocks, disgruntled poltergeists have wrought havoc as the 24-7 Bagdad Café at 2295 Market became Criolla Kitchen and then Sliderbar in rapid succession. The burger chain seems to have broken the curse, but nearby gay bars may not be so lucky, with Beaux opening in the former Trigger space at 2344 Market (which used to be Detour, and Jet before that).
Just down the block, 2223 Market was home to an eponymous restaurant that morphed into Jake's on Market and is now the relocated Pesce, to which Michael Bauer recently awarded 2.5 stars. Perhaps that positive review can exorcise the demon?