clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Iconic Sign for 85-Year-Old Market Street Diner It’s Tops Has Been Carted Away

New, 1 comment

Also: Alameda County might reopen sit-down dining in about a month, and more news to start your day

Bruce and Sheila Chapman have owned It’s Tops since 1986

The sign for the It’s Tops coffee shop has lit Market Street since before most San Franciscans can remember. On Wednesday, that sign came down, perhaps for good.

An observant Market Street pedestrian noticed that one of the area’s most significant landmarks disappeared on Wednesday: The sign for It’s Tops, an 85-year-old diner known for its bottomless cups of coffee and late-night hours. Fans of the spot are wondering if the restaurant has closed for good, but so far, the owners of the restaurant have remained silent.

Even those outside San Francisco are familiar with the odd-shaped restaurant’s stools and booths, as the spot’s been home to scenes from movies, TV, and commercials for decades (a partial accounting can be found here). Speaking to Eater SF back in 2013, Bruce and Sheila Chapman (the brother and sister team who took over the diner from their dad in 1986), detailed a life spent working in the restaurant, which their father had owned since 1952.

Back then, their mom “would make the pies and brownies,” for the diner, Shelia said, including the spot’s walnut pie, which was “like a pecan pie but better.” Its iconic neon sign has been up since the 40s, the Chapmans said. But it’s gone now, removed, it appears, by workers with a ladder and a flatbed truck.

Artist and teacher Anthony Ryan noted the neon sign’s absence on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, saying that he’d “just witnessed the removal” of the restaurant’s signage. The observation prompted an outpouring of concern that the diner — unable to serve dine-in customers from its usual hours 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. during the city’s shelter in place — had closed for good.

When Eater SF checked in on the restaurant in the early days of the pandemic, it was not open for takeout or delivery, and a message sent to the Chapmans did not receive a response. Another message regarding the restaurant’s fate was also not returned as of publication time, but the longstanding phone number for It’s Tops has been disconnected, and Yelp users (for what’s that worth) say that the spot has been permanently shuttered.

And in other news...

  • SF-based autonomous vehicle startup Cruise has touted its decision to deploy its cars to deliver meals to food banks, but now Cruise employees claim that the well-publicized delivery effort was just a smokescreen to get back to work ahead of SF’s shelter-in-place order. [The Verge]
  • Wineries, bars, breweries, and other alcohol-centric spots that don’t serve food will reopen in Sonoma County on Friday. [KPIX]
  • Nopa’s Barrel Head Brewhouse announced an expansion to the Richmond District in 2017, and now it’s finally here: Lost Marbles, as its known, will soon open in Clement Street’s former Pizza Orgasmica space, with a menu of Cajun-style food, multiple IPAs, and “a killer burger.” [Hoodline]
  • Reporter Jack Nicas’s beat is typically Silicon Valley, but as part of the New York Times’s pandemic-related coverage, he shadowed Oakland bar The Hatch to see how it navigated a lengthy closure doing the Bay Area’s shelter in place. His primary report is here, and his behind-the-scenes meditation on the story is here.
  • Sino Restaurant + Lounge, an upscale cocktail bar and dim sum spot on Santana Row, has closed for good as the pandemic made the future of the business uncertain. [East Bay Times]
  • A spokesperson with the health department for Alameda County, the only county in the Bay Area without a plan to resume sit-down dining, says that “outdoor dining will be considered for reopening in the next 2-4 weeks.” [ABC 7]
  • Sonoma’s Ferrari-Carano Vineyards has been purchased by Foley Family Wines for about $250 million. [SF Chronicle]
  • Konan Pi, the owner of Bay Area mini-chain Hom Korean Kitchen, says that a second spike in coronavirus cases — and the shutdown that would likely ensue — could kill his business. [KQED]

It's Tops Coffee Shop

1801 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (415) 431-6395 Visit Website

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater San Francisco newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world