Konstantinos “Gus” Vardakastanis, a San Francisco grocer who founded and operated a group of local stores including Gus’s Community Market, was killed late last night in a hit-and-run collision in the Bayview. Konstantinos, 57, died at the scene as the Office of the Medical Examiner told KTVU.
San Francisco Public Information Officer Giselle Linnane tells Eater that officers responded to reports of a vehicle collision with a pedestrian at Jerrold and Toland Streets after 2 a.m. last night. The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck the pedestrian crossing the roadway and reportedly fled the scene. The pedestrian, who was later identified as Vardakastanis, died at the scene of the collision.
Gus and spouse Georgia Vardakastanis founded their first store, Haight Street Market, in 1981 after emigrating from Greece in 1974. They opened their second business, Noriega Produce, in 1985. Their sons Dimitri and Bobby Vardakastanis have inherited the family business, opening Gus’s Community Market in the Mission at 17th and Harrison Street in 2015.
Vardakastanis was seemingly in the Bayview on a trip to VegiWorks, located near that intersection where he was killed. Phil Woo, a co-owner of the produce supplier which stocks Vardakastanis’ markets as well as local restaurants, confirms that VegiWorks was open at the hour of the collision. “It’s kind of surprising,” says Woo, who was aware of the collision and saddened by the news. “They might consider a barrier to keep traffic from speeding through that area.”
The SFPD Traffic Collision Investigation Unit is investigating the incident, seeking a silver sedan with windshield and front end damage. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the message with SFPD, with the option to remain anonymous.