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Croissants from Le Marais
Croissants from Le Marais
Le Marais

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The Saddest Restaurant Closures of 2021 in the San Francisco-Bay Area

It’s always hard to say goodbye, but these ones cut deep

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Welcome to Year in Eater 2021, Eater’s annual tradition of celebrating the past 12 months with help from some of the Bay Area’s top food writers. Between now and end of the year, Eater SF will post daily questions about the Bay Area restaurant scene with answers from those who know it best.

The closure of Le Marais Bakery’s flagship in the Marina due to their lousy landlord really pissed me off—they put so much into that space. At least Michelle Polzine closed 20th Century Cafe on her terms, but her farewell letter was heartbreaking commentary about what it means to be in the restaurant industry, and how it chews you up. — Marcia Gagliardi, founder/editor of

It was bittersweet to break the news when star pastry chef Michelle Polzine announced she was winding down 20th Century Cafe this spring. That Russian honey cake was truly one of the cake icons of San Francisco, now often imitated but never done so well, and the rare cafe with vintage style is dearly missed. — Becky Duffett, deputy editor, Eater SF

They’re all kinda equally sad, aren’t they? But I miss grabbing a drink and a view at Cliff House. I know technically it closed the end of 2020, and there’s some sort of new thing coming next year, but that was the real 2021 void for me. — Omar Mamoon, writer, Esquire

As a former resident of Ireland (a semester abroad in Cork, but still) de Vere’s Irish Pub was the best American imitation I’d seen since coming back stateside, with its dark wood bar flown in from the Emerald Isle, great shepherd’s pie and bartenders who knew how to properly pour a Guinness. The Davis location was the go-to spot for trivia, night-before-Thanksgiving meetups and adults wanting a grown-up drink in a college town. Every soccer fan in the city knew to go to the downtown Sacramento pub for 6 a.m. Premier League or La Liga games - when the U.S. men’s team scored a last-minute, game-winning goal in the 2010 World Cup, the collective roar could be heard a block away. But pubs weren’t built for pandemics, and brothers Henry and Simon de Vere White pulled the plug on both concepts in early October. — Benjy Egel, food and drink reporter, The Sacramento Bee

Oliveto in Rockridge. Even though the Kleins were ready to retire and will be continuing their thriving Community Grains business, it felt like the end of an era for that storied corner of College Avenue. — Jessica Yadegaran, food and dining writer, The Mercury News and East Bay Times

Best O./Yelp

Halu, a tiny, endearing yakitori restaurant covered in Beatles paraphernalia, never reopened after the initial COVID shutdown. I kept walking by, hoping to see it had been resuscitated, but by this fall it had closed for good. Looks like its replacement will serve yakitori too, so I’m hopeful! — Esther Mobley, senior wine critic, San Francisco Chronicle

Jiangnan Cuisine in the Outer Richmond is the one I’ll really miss. — Luke Tsai, food editor, KQED

I think it’s always heartbreaking to hear when a restaurant closes. It never gets easy as a food reporter to listen to the stories of all the hard work that goes into opening and running a business to then confront the difficult decision of permanent closure. You really feel for them. — Susana Guerrero, reporter, SFGATE

The buffet place in Oakland Chinatown called Buffet Fortuna closed at some point during the pandemic. It was a regular go-to spot for my family. Buffets are fun, and I remember going for birthday celebrations and loading up on crab legs. Buffet Fortuna had a little bit of everything: sushi, dim sum, hotpot. I miss going there. — Momo Chang, freelance food writer and Oakland Voices co-director

The closure of Homestead in Oakland hit me in the gut; it’s a restaurant I’d dined at with a family friend who’s friends with the owners many years ago. The details are fuzzy, but I know the meal was wonderful because it made me imagine moving home to California. A lot of life would get in the way, but Homestead helped me fall back in love with the Bay Area through food and I was so looking forward to returning to celebrate in that cozy dining room. — Lauren Saria, editor, Eater SF

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