After 70 years in San Francisco, plus a change in ownership that saw an inventive menu update attract several TV shows to its doors, HRD Coffee Shop has closed.
The San Francisco Standard first reported the news, and owner Sydney Saidyan confirmed the restaurant closed as of Friday, June 23. He says the pandemic exacerbated issues with the landlord; the restaurant was not able to install outdoor dining due to some of these problems, and it made HRD’s losses even larger. “I lost faith in my partners, meaning the city and landlord, to really see us as their valued partner,” Saidyan says. “We realized that basically we cannot continue when we have done everything we can, and we couldn’t really come to that mindset to say we can last another year or two.”
As the Standard recounts, HRD Coffee Shop was started by Ben Chan, an immigrant from China who wanted to open a breakfast spot in China Basin. He opened HRD in 1953 — reportedly named after the “HRD” on the front of the Human Resource Department office where the restaurant first began — and eventually passed the business along to nephew David Yeung and partner Joanna Banks in 2009. They brought Saidyan into the business, infused the menu with its unique brand of kimchi and bulgogi burritos, which blend Asian ingredients with Mexican food and led to appearances on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Saidyan says Yeung left the business three years ago, and he’s since been the sole owner.
As for the story of HRD Coffee Shop, Saidyan doesn’t believe this is the true end. Pointing to various catering gigs with the Giants and local companies, as well as the numerous reviews on Yelp and Google praising their restaurant, he says HRD will continue on — whether it’s him at the helm or someone who will take over the business and its various trademarks and patents. He would prefer that it continue in San Francisco but indicated to the Standard that he would be open to moving the restaurant elsewhere. “After 70 years, our story is a story of perseverance and an immigrant that came to this country,” Saidyan says. “I never saw myself as an owner, I saw myself as a custodian for that man’s legacy. We did everything we could but unfortunately, it takes two to tango.”