Buttermilk Southern Kitchen, a Mission District restaurant known for its grits, waffles, and cornbread, has permanently closed, Tablehopper reports. The news marks the latest in a long line of Southern-inspired San Francisco restaurants to shutter.
Opened by first-time restaurateurs Miguel de Ocampo and Jaime Chavez in 2015, the spot at the corner of 23rd and Bryant Streets was built on a DIY aesthetic, with house-cured bacon and homemade pickles, butter, and buttermilk. The restaurant’s menu came from “tireless research, homework, recipe testing,” Chavez told the Chron in 2015. “I’m not in a position to redefine Southern cuisine or anything like that, I’m just trying to make really good versions of the staples that already exist.” The spot was notable enough that it attracted guests like Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, the restaurant once noted via social media.
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#FlashbackFriday to the time @kimkardashian & Kanye stopped by Buttermilk for a meal and took a selfie with our very own waiter, Julio! #KimKardashian #KimYe #KanyeWest #NorthWest #SaintWest #TeamKanyeDaily #Pablo #Southern #Waffles #FriedChicken #Food #SanFrancisco #Weekend #EaterSF #HappyFriday #GOOD #Times #Only
When Buttermilk opened, it did so in a rich and welcoming landscape for Creole and Southern-style cuisine. A few years later, things were very different for places that offer items like gumbo or shrimp and grits: as the Chron reported last May, spots specializing in food most commonly found in the Southern states of the U.S. have been closing at a rapid clip.
For example, a rebooted Elite Cafe closed in the summer of 2019 after 38 years in business, as did 13-year-old Farmer Brown. Alba Ray’s, which opened with fanfare in 2017, no longer has a working website and, according to Yelp, has closed. Before that was 10-year-old 1300 on Fillmore, which closed in 2017, and in recent months SF has seen Brenda Buenviaje and Libby Truesdell close Libby Jane and Tanya Holland shut down her Ferry Building location of Brown Sugar Kitchen after less than a year. All spots served food one could characterize as Southern, soul, or Cajun. All are gone.
Most of these restaurants also boasted loyal followings — for example, a look at the “Ask the Community” Yelp page for Buttermilk is filled with queries on if or when the spot — which has remained dark for the last several months — might reopen. “Some delays causing a little longer reopening. I’m very sorry. Hopefully within a month,” a representative of the restaurant said seven months ago regarding a return to business. “Going through the city has been very challenging. I will know more in a week or so,” he said four months ago. Five more recent questions on a reopening date remain unanswered.
There’s obviously more than one reason for restaurants to close in San Francisco, and readers of this website know that the business, especially in this city, isn’t easy. According to the Chron, food made with Southern techniques might be a victim of the city’s need for speed, as “the recipes take time to prepare, which means most Louisiana-inspired businesses are traditional sit-down concepts devoid of the increasingly popular counter-service touch.”