clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oakland Soul Food Icon Brown Sugar Kitchen Shutters After 15 Years, and More Closings

A running list of notable Bay Area restaurants and bars that have permanently closed

Albert Law

This is a curated list of the Bay Area’s most notable and permanent restaurant and bar closures, with new updates published once a week. See a closing we missed? Then drop us a line.

January 14

JAPANTOWN — Many tears have already been shed over the closing of mochi institution Benkyodo, but in addition to previous coverage, the San Francisco Chronicle updates that the owners will not be closing until the end of March, so there are still a couple of months to get in line for mochi, manju, and other sweet confections.

OAKLAND — It’s the end of a chicken-and-waffles era for a California soul food icon. Berkeleyside sadly reports that celebrity chef and cookbook author Tanya Holland is permanently closing Brown Sugar Kitchen, her flagship and last remaining restaurant, after nearly 15 years.

ALAMEDA — Pappo American restaurant on Alameda went out with a sold-out New Year’s Eve dinner, ending 16 years of smoky pork chops, crispy duck legs, and pillowy gnocchi, the Mercury News reports.

EL CERRITO — The headcheese has left the building. Eastern European deli the Junket has shuttered after a wonderful run of 42 years, Berkeleyside laments. Husband-and-wife owners Cindy and Bruno Frisch (originally from the UK and Germany, respectively) are now in their 90s.

LAFAYETTE — Breakfast-and-brunch institution Millie’s Kitchen has closed permanently after 46 years, according to the Mercury News. The owner taped a heartfelt note to the door.

SACRAMENTO — Family-owned downtown deli Zia’s shuttered at the end of December, after nine years of Italian sandwiches, the Sacramento Bee reports.

SACRAMENTO — Two separate breweries coincidentally announced closures around the new year: Dream Dog Brewing lost their lease, and Campus Brewing is selling off the last of its beer, according to the Sacramento Bee.

SAN JOSE — Known for smoked meat with a side of karaoke, Ben’s BBQ & Brew closed at the end of the year, after the landlord doubled the rent, Mercury News reports.

January 7

MISSION — Brunch favorite Universal Cafe has been beloved for its soft scrambles and thick brioche French toast for 27 years, but due to an expired lease and pandemic challenges, it sadly closed doors on December 19, as first reported by the SF Chronicle.

SOMA — For nearly 30 years, locals and tourists alike braved long lines for diner plates loaded with scrambles and pancakes at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. But the restaurant announced its closure on December 18, SFGate spotted first. Even though it couldn’t survive the pandemic, the owners may be plotting a cookbook or cooking lessons in future, the website suggests.

JAPANTOWN — Benkyodo Company is closing after a century of mochi, manju, and other confections, CBS SF reports. Opened after the 1906 quake, the shop was owned by the Okamura family, who came back after being forcibly relocated by the U.S. government to prison camps during WWII. But with mochi sales down this new year, the third generation of the family finally wants to retire.

MISSION — With Liholiho Yacht Club returning to Nob Hill and Good Good Culture Club opening on 18th Street, sadly if somewhat expectedly, Dear Inga is finally confirmed as permanently closed. The Eastern European restaurant was highly anticipated in 2019, with laboriously housemade sausages, smoked fish, and stuffed cabbage rarely seen in SF.

SOMA — With the opening of Socialite Crafthouse & Kitchen in its former space, Cento Osteria must have quietly, permanently closed. Opened in 2018, it was the first SF restaurant for restaurateur Donato Scotti, serving fresh pasta, woodfired pizza, and salume.

OAKLAND — After 18 years of happy hour burgers and biscuit brunches that woke up Uptown, Luka’s couldn’t survive a new landlord and rent increase, Berkeleyside reports.

OAKLAND — Filippo’s Restaurant has permanently shuttered after 30 years of family-style Italian feasts in Rockridge, also according to Berkeleyside.

OAKLAND — The Trappist poured its last pints on New Year’s Eve, ending a run of 14 years. The SF Chronicle reports that new owners from Santa Cruz’s Sante Adairus are planning to reopen and rename the taproom Oakland Arbor, although it’s not clear when.

BERKELEY — Berkeleyside reports that Lanesplitter pizzeria is closing at 2033 San Pablo Avenue after 23 years, while the popular Babette cafe is snagging the keys to its location and departing BAMPFA (the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive).

December 10

CIVIC CENTER — Mela Tandoori Indian and Pakistani restaurant, which has been serving buffet lunches near City Hall for 35 years, has sadly closed, Tablehopper reports. Per an Instagram post, they shuttered on October 1 due to a “huge plumbing problem” but may be on the hunt for a new location.

MISSION — New Korean-Mexican restaurant El Coreano has closed after only a year, also according to Tablehopper.

RICHMOND — Kaiju Cooks served its last ramen and sushi to Balboa Street on October 31, although sister restaurant Kaiju Eats on Geary Boulevard remains open, per the SF Chronicle.

MARKET — Fog City News, the downtown newsstand with a surprisingly impressive array of chocolate, is closing at the end of the year. It’s the culmination of a 22-year run, according to Tablehopper.

SFO — SFGATE gave a rundown on what’s still closed at the airport: Gott’s Roadside (international), Super Duper Burger (terminal 3), Sweet Maple (terminal 2), Tartine (international), Tacos Cala (international), Kamin Thai Fried Chicken (international) all remain dark with “no plans to reopen.”

OAKLAND — One of Oakland’s oldest boba shops is closing after 28 sweet years. The owners of Sweet Booth want to retire, and despite trying to sell the business this fall, they were unable to find new owners, according to the SF Chronicle.

OAKLAND — Pastel-pretty Miette has closed its Jack London Square location, after a dozen years and some gnarly landlord issues, Tablehopper reports. But thankfully the patisserie has already moved and opened a new location in Montclair Village.

BERKELEY — Lucky Bird, a fast-casual street food spot on Shattuck, has closed after only two years, Berkeleyside reports. It’s being replaced by Cousins Asian Street Food, but despite being a similar-sounding concept, it’s unclear if the new restaurant is from the same owners.

BERKELEY — Berkeleyside also reports that the mom-and-pop owners of the Oriental Restaurant have served their last bowls of pho to hungry students and are retiring after several decades on Shattuck.

SACRAMENTO — Downtown lunch spot La Bonne Soupe has closed after 16 years of line-worthy French onion soup and sandwiches, the Sacramento Bee reports.

SACRAMENTO — Favorite Chinese breakfast spot Harry’s Cafe will close on December 31, as the owner wants to retire after 17 years in the restaurant game, according to the Sacramento Bee. The owner’s son shouted out his dad in a cute Facebook post.

PALO ALTO — The owners of Anatolian Kitchen are retiring the Turkish restaurant after 10 years, and replacing it with Naschmarkt Palo Alto, a sister restaurant to their popular Viennese market in Campbell, per Palo Alto Weekly.

SANTA CLARA — El Camino Mongolian BBQ is putting away the barbecue buffet after 28 years and closing on December 15, SFGATE reports. Per a note on the restaurant website, the owners plan to return to Korea, and SFGATE adds they’re losing their business visa.

CARMEL — First built in 1947, Rocky Point Restaurant is a sprawling seafood restaurant with dramatic views of the coast. And now, the 75-year-old seafood gem has sold for $8 million to a real estate development group, as reported by the Monterey Herald. Apparently chef Justin Cogley of Michelin-starred L’Auberge Carmel will be involved with the new restaurant and menu.

November 19

CASTRO — Reveille Coffee has closed its popular location on 18th Street, where coffee drinkers and their pups used to gather in the mini front patio secluded by plants, Hoodline reports. Open for a good run of seven years, this location recently closed for renovations, and the owners said they’ve decided not to return. North Beach, Lower Haight, Mission Bay, and Berkeley locations remain open.

EMERYVILLE — The E’Ville Eye was first to report that Hip Hop Juice Box coffee shop has closed after only two years. In his goodbye Instagram post, the owner went out quoting the Notorious B.I.G., and it sounds like this might not be the end of the story, so stay tuned for a comeback.

THE RICHMOND — The Outer Richmond has lost an essential Shanghainese restaurant, What Now San Francisco spotted first. Jiangnan Cuisine will serve its last lion’s head meatballs and spicy braised beef noodles soon, as a new tea shop called Tea O’Clock has taken over the license.

LOS ANGELES — And not technically in the Bay Area, but from a beloved Bay Area chef, Melissa Perello announced on Instagram that she will not be reopening M. Georgina, the restaurant she debuted in LA only four months before the pandemic descended. In San Francisco, Octavia has reopened, and Frances is planning to reopen soon, so the silver lining is that it’s good to have the star chef back and refocusing on her restaurants in the Bay.

November 12

NOB HILL — Venticello Ristorante has closed permanently after 29 years of fresh pasta atop Nob Hill, the SF Chronicle confirmed. The restaurant has been closed since spring 2020, and the family told the Chron that without the usual tourists at neighboring hotels, they were unable to reopen. But sister restaurant Nob Hill Cafe is still serving.

NOB HILL — French-slash-Japanese Keiko, the tasting menu spot with white tablecloths and one Michelin star (awarded in 2019), has closed after 10 years in Nob Hill, according to Tablehopper.

MISSION — Tablehopper spotted that Son’s Addition has closed on 24th Street, although the family promises they’re looking for a new location with a full liquor license. Their new restaurant Otra remains open with lots of fresh masa and smoky mezcal cocktails in Lower Haight.

OAKLAND — Bar Dogwood bar is done for now, Tablehopper also reports. But some of the bar’s cocktails live on, as the owners have replaced it with Stinky’s Bar, which is now filled with deliberately creepy clown memorabilia.

OAKLAND — Roam Burgers has closed its only location in Oakland, a tipster was sad to report. Although the grass-fed burgers and sweet potato fries are still available at five locations in San Francisco and around the Bay.

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Hawaiian favorite Pearl Cafe served its last Spam musubi on Halloween, ending a run of 15 years, SFGATE reports.

SAN JOSE — And the definitely less beloved Agave Sports Bar finally closed down for good on October 17, following a lawsuit from the city, allegations of drug use, and a car crash and death of a staffer, according to SFGATE.

November 5

MISSION — Above Ground, the vegan brew pub from the same owners as Millennium, will spin its last vegan pizza this Saturday, November 6, the SF Chronicle reports. The owners told the Chron they were busy on weekends, but not during the week, and sadly that wasn’t enough to pull through the pandemic.

CASTRO — Oz Burgers has closed after a couple of years on 18th Street, but the same owners are replacing it with Wicked 6 Bar & Bites, flipping burgers into cocktails and small plates, according to Hoodline. The owner said he hoped to receive fewer complaints about prices, which he had to raise to pay his vendors.

CASTRO — Hoodline also reports that Me & Tasty Thai cafe, which had sweet brunch and boba drinks, has shuttered on 17th Street. The family is moving to Boise, Idaho, where they plan to open another Thai restaurant.

OAKLAND — The once hip Dosa Indian restaurant group has closed its last brick-and-mortar restaurant in Oakland, Berkeleyside reported first. Dosa already closed the Valencia location in 2019, the Fillmore spot in 2020, and filed for bankruptcy. But it does appear to be continuing with takeout and delivery, as well as packaged grocery items.

OAKLAND — Blue Bottle Coffee, which was once small and local, but of course now is a multi-million dollar global brand, has shuttered its original location near Jack London Square after more than a decade, the SF Chronicle confirmed. Last call for third-wave lattes is this Sunday, November 7.

OAKLAND — After 35 years of simple seasonal pastas, pizzas, and vegetables, Oliveto is ending its run as an Italian institution in Rockridge, Berkeleyside reported first. Berkeleyside reminds us that Michael Tusk of Quince and Paul Bertolli of Chez Panisse both once ran this kitchen, but now the owners are retiring. Grab a reservation before they wind down in the next couple of months, should you wish to pay respects.

BERKELEY — Mise en Place Kitchen has closed after a little more than a year, Berkeleyside reports. Friends and neighbors will miss the nourishing cafe fare with Brazilian touches, and especially that cake of the day.

October 21

POLK GULCH — Encore Karaoke Lounge seems to have belted its last tune. A tipster notified Eater SF that one of the bartenders posted on social media, indicating that the divey karaoke bar has quietly and unexpectedly closed, and its Google and Yelp listings have been updated to permanently closed.

NORTH BEACH — Original U.S., an Italian-American restaurant dating back to the 1890s, has served its last lasagna and gnocchi, according to the SF Chronicle. Co-owner Alberto Cipollino told the Chron he has struggled to find staff, but also at 77 years old, he’s ready to retire.

THE RICHMOND — The SF Chronicle also spotted that cozy izakaya Halu has gone dark, posting a “for lease” sign in the window and not answering calls or emails. Neighborhood friends will surely miss the ramen and skewers.

OAKLAND, SAN MATEO — Just four months after getting busted for mislabeling beef, Belcampo shut down all of its restaurants and butcher shops, including the locations in Oakland and San Mateo. The company also dirty deleted all of its social media accounts, and terminated all of its employees by text, as Eater LA details in the full story.

NAPA — Stone Brewing, the San Diego brewery known for hopped IPA, lost a legal battle over pandemic back rent, and is packing up and leaving its historic digs in Napa, the SF Chronicle reports.

SANTA ROSA — Creperie Chez Solange will close at the end of October, according to Sonoma Magazine. The owner said he struggled to find staff and run his restaurant solo for seven months, before finally folding the last of his popular buckwheat crepes with ham and gruyere.

October 15

COW HOLLOW — Favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant Pane e Vino closed on August 26, ending a pizza, pasta, and puttanesca run of 30 years. A note on the website thanks customers for the many memories.

NORTH BEACH — Tacolicious shuttered its North Beach location, as announced on Instagram on September 2, the SF Chronicle spotted. But the tacos and margaritas are still flowing at the Mission and Marina outposts, and at the latter, there’s a new “barklet” happy hour for pups.

OAKLAND — Berkeleyside reports that Batch Pastries closed and cooled the ovens on September 25. Owner Emily Buysse said it was a complicated “combination of factors,” and fans will miss the croissants and scones.

OAKLAND — Bierhaus moved from Mountain View to Oakland in 2018, and now has closed that Oakland beer garden but is going to stay open in Walnut Creek, according to Berkeleyside. So drive further east for the meaty Oktoberfest menu of sausages, pretzels, and warm potato salad.

BERKELEY — Imperial Tea Court closed on August 26, following 16 years worth of dumplings, noodles, and tea, Berkeleyside reports. The owner cited staffing issues, but the Ferry Building location remains open.

SACRAMENTO — Popular De Vere’s Irish Pubs are closing in both Sacramento and Davis, according to the Sacramento Bee. Despite recently remodeling and reopening, the owners told the Bee, “We haven’t been able to dig ourselves out of the hole that the pandemic created.” They poured out their last pints on October 3.

SAN MATEO — Ben Tre Vietnamese restaurant closed its San Mateo location on September 1, the SF Chronicle spotted first. But Ben Tre remains open in South San Francisco and Millbrae, and sister restaurant Gao is still open in San Mateo — plus, the owner is promising a new San Francisco spot, for all those craving that phozilla monster bowl of noodles and lobster.

SUNNYVALE — Longhorn Charcoal Pit bar and grill has served its last steaks and burgers after a wild ride of 61 years, Mercury News reports. The Old Western style grill closed on October 10.

September 24

SOMA — In Situ has permanently closed within SFMOMA, as first spotted by the SF Chronicle. Star chef Corey Lee opened the museum restaurant in 2016, curating dishes by chefs from around the world, garnering a Michelin star, James Beard award, and other accolades. An Instagram post explained the restaurant simply ran through its five-year partnership with the museum, saying “Our collection included over 100 dishes spanning more than 25 countries, 20 U.S cities, and almost 50 years…. It was an honor to learn from some of the most innovative, talented, and influential chefs in the world and represent them here in San Francisco.”

MISSION — The Flour + Water team announced Central Kitchen is officially closing, the SF Chronicle reported first. It isn’t a huge shock, as that location has been operating as a pasta shop for most of the pandemic. But now, it’s going to become Penny Roma, a casual new pasta restaurant, slated to open in October.

CIVIC CENTER — Corridor won’t be coming back either, the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group confirmed. Owner Ryan Cole says they plan to flip that location and reopen as the Madrigal, a new concept catering to the opera and arts crowd, coming later this winter.

NOE VALLEY — Bistro SF Grill has served its last Balkan dishes and wine to Castro and 24th, Tablehopper reports. In a goodbye post, the owners didn’t share a specific reason for the closure, but said they’re selling off the last of the beer and wine.

CASTRO — Hoodline reports Weaver’s Coffee & Tea has quietly and permanently closed within the Fitness SF on Market.

FRUITVALE — Reem’s Arab bakery officially departed its original location in Fruitvale on August 31, the SF Chronicle reported first. Owner Reem Assil thanked the neighborhood for five great years, although she’s not going too far, moving into a new production bakery in the Restore Oakland building nearby. And she’s handing the keys over to Crystal Wahpepah, a popular indigenous chef and caterer in Oakland.

September 10

BERKELEY — There’s one less spot to grab a coffee in the East Bay after Espresso Roma closed its doors in August. The shop was founded in 1980, and owner David “Sandy” Boyd told Berkeleyside that the $18,000 rent was outpacing the $300 per day income, leading him to tell the landlord he’d shutter as soon as there was someone else to take the space.

WALNUT GROVE — An iconic waterfront restaurant located in the California Delta was destroyed by a fire on Thursday, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Giusti’s has been run by the same family for more than a century but the wooden building was declared a total loss after flames ripped through earlier this week.

SACRAMENTO — Olive Branch, a Fair Oaks cafe, also closed in August. Owner Jordan Anderson opened the restaurant during the pandemic and told the Bee he closed because “the state didn’t offer enough financial assistance during shutdowns.”