Fuzio Universal Bistro on the Embarcadero, which numbers among the last survivors of a very ’90s wave of quick, casual restaurants, is closing for good this Friday, May 25th.
“We remained the last of the three San Francisco locations, survived the dot.com bust and the financial crisis of 2008 but alas, our time has come to say goodbye,” the business, located at 1 Embarcadero Center, wrote in a goodbye note to customers.
Fuzio’s management went on to thank patrons for “a fantastic 20 years.” And as an unintentional parting gift, the business’s closure reminds San Franciscan diners of two things. First, that Fuzio was still open all this time, and second of an earlier quick-service restaurant craze that’s resonant with our current one — with some notable differences.
Fuzio dates back to an era dominated by chains like Pasta Pomodoro rather than Super Duper Burgers (both from restaurateur Adriano Paganini, who has reinvented his businesses with the times). It first launched on Castro Street, where it earned high marks from the Chronicle despite its unglamorous owner: The “fresh Mex” chain Chevy’s.
Today, high rents have driven a resurgence of quick service restaurants. But in 2018, with appropriation generally shunned in favor of authenticity, Fuzio’s menu of pasta with a “global” bent reads like a cultural artifact. See everything from prawn pomodoro to shanghai noodles and vegetable pad thai, with starters from crispy calamari to Vietnamese spring rolls.
In context, it makes sense: Fuzio is among the last extant local examples of a restaurant cohort that included World Wrapps, a now defunct West Coast chain that started in the Marina in 1995 slinging everything from Thai chicken to Peking duck and baba ghanoush in wrap form. But Fuzio is neither completely gone nor forgotten: A Modesto location remains in business. SF Fuzio fans will just have to travel a bit farther to taste the global flavors they love.