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San Francisco Is Losing Its Hot Dog Shops

With three recent closings, it seems like the dogs are packing up and leaving town

Hot dogs from Grem’s Good Dogs Grem’s Good Dogs

Several months into San Francisco’s shelter in place, it’s become clear that certain types of restaurants are struggling more than others, with those that rely on indoor dining struggling most of all. But there’s a slightly unexpected category in the city’s growing wave of closures: hot dog shops, which started quietly shuttering even before the pandemic began.

Dapper Dog closed in January after five years of slinging dogs from a small storefront in the heart of the Castro, known for Niman Ranch dogs wrapped in bacon or topped with cochinita pibil or Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Owner Bassel Khoury did not comment on the closure then or now, but did post a note on the door after the shop went dark, thanking the neighborhood for its years of patronage. One might have hoped that the Castro, filled with tourists during the day and club revelers late at night, would be the ideal scene for meaty snacks. But that particular block was already struggling with empty storefronts, as noodle bars, dessert shops, and bars have all continued to close.

Grem’s Good Dog also quietly closed at around the same time, Eater SF recently learned. The drive-thru opened just last year near the intersection of South Van Ness and Mission, immediately delighting fans who pulled up to the window for Evergood dogs on Starter Bakery half-sourdough buns. Eater SF reached out to owner Julie Walton, but did not receive a response as of publication time. But its website has expired, Yelp says the business is permanently closed, and the last Yelp review is from November, suggesting that Grem’s closed up shop well before the pandemic. Sad timing given that drive-thrus have gained fresh appeal this summer as a relatively safe option for dining while social distancing.

Maybe the most mysterious closure is What’s Up Dog, the hot dog franchise with five locations in San Francisco and seven locations in Moscow. The chain appears to have cleared out of San Francisco entirely, vanishing into the fog without a word. Founded in 2003, the company set up shop at various locations around the city over the years, with most shops concentrated in SoMa and the FiDi, serving snappy beef franks at affordable prices to the weekday crowd. Of course, those workers are now long gone, and with them, the meaty lunches. Eater SF has reached out to the business for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

Before you start to wonder if a city that can’t hang onto its hot dog shops is a city at all, you should know that there’s one dog-related business that the pandemic couldn’t keep down: the Mission District’s bacon-wrapped hot dogs, which have returned to the area in full force.

According to Wesburger founder Wes Rowe, whose business occupies the same block as some of the most active carts, there was a lull at the beginning of shelter in place, as the vendors — like everyone else — stayed home. These days, he says, the street vendors are back out and about, serving up those iconic Mission dogs with bacon and jalapeños, not to mention tacos and pupusas.

Grem's Good Dog

170a South Van Ness Avenue, , CA 94103 Visit Website