It seems like just about everyone is trying to read the proverbial tea leaves when it comes to the future of San Francisco. The “doom loop” narrative has taken on a life of its own, but if you’re paying attention to the city’s restaurant and bar scene, it’s pretty obvious there’s more to the story. Since the beginning of summer in late June, San Francisco and the Bay Area have seen a number of high-profile and heartbreaking restaurant closings including truly iconic businesses and some that only lasted a handful of months. Here are some of the biggest Bay Area restaurant closures of the summer, listed in chronological order.
In late June, David Lee closed the Nob Hill location of his fast-casual Korean-Mexican fusion restaurant Tacorea, telling the San Francisco Standard that “a perfect storm of everyone leaving, tourism down, [and] working from home” made it impossible to keep selling tater tot-stuffed burritos in the city. Lee also pointed to the high-profile retail closures around downtown, saying that he’d consider reopening his business in Las Vegas down the line. Lee opened Tacorea in 2016 and previously operated two locations, including one near Chinatown, which also closed this summer.
Anchor Brewing had been brewing its famous steam lager in San Francisco for well over a century before parent company Saporro USA announced the brewery’s sudden closure in mid-July. Sam Singer, a representative retained by the company, told the San Francisco Chronicle, that the impacts of the pandemic and ongoing inflation — specifically in San Francisco — were both factors in the company’s decision. In the months since, a group of former Anchor Brewing employees has organized an attempt to purchase the company and turn it into a worker-owned co-op.
Just one year after making its debut in downtown Oakland, Slug, the sister wine bar to hit natural wine destination Snail Bar shut its doors in late July. Chef Andres Giraldo Florez opened the funky natural wine bar as an expansion of Snail Bar, which earned Michelin Bib Gourmand status in July, and Slug became a popular destination for roving pop-ups and other industry-centric events. In the Instagram post announcing Slug’s closure he cited only “personal reasons.”
Bistronomie by Baumé
For 13 years, chef Bruno Chemel and wife and business partner Christie served French food on the Peninsula. They first opened a fine dining restaurant Baumé, which earned two Michelin stars for its 15-course, $300 tasting menus. Then in March 2022 rebranded the restaurant as Bistronomie by Baumé, a more casual restaurant with a tasting menu priced at $168. The second iteration still only lasted about a year. In a post on the restaurant’s website, the couple announced that they’d close the Palo Alto business as of August 12.
Suragan opened in late 2022, bringing a new layer of depth to the San Francisco Korean dining scene. Chef Jongmoon Choi used ancient Korean texts to inspire his fine dining tasting menus, which were an immediate hit with both Michelin’s inspectors and local critics. But in mid-August, the business took to Instagram to announce the restaurant would close as of August 19. At the time, Choi said he hoped to find Suragan a new home.
The late August closure of NoPa cafe Automat took fans by surprise, but co-owner David Barzelay spoke to Eater SF about the many challenges of running an all-day restaurant back in March. Rising food costs due to inflation and the labor-intensive nature of making even causal food like sandwiches and burgers at a high level made the popular restaurant unsustainable, the owners shared in an Instagram post. Chef and baker Matt Kirk was the face of the business, opening the restaurant after cooking at Barzelay’s two-Michelin-star Lazy Bear and launching Automat first as a pop-up ahead of its late 2021 brick-and-mortar debut.
The Valencia Street corridor has seen a number of high-profile restaurant closings during the past year, but the news that matcha specialist Stonemill Matcha would close its doors at the end of August still felt like a big blow to the neighborhood. As a matcha-centric shop that also sold Japanese food and baked goods, Stonemill stood in a league of its own in the Bay Area. The announcement came via Instagram, ending the business’s five-year run.
When the team behind yakitori spot Hina announced plans to close the one-of-a-kind restaurant at the end of August, they made sure to tell the Chronicle the business’s end shouldn’t be made a part of the city’s doom loop narrative. Still, the end of the 12-seat tasting menu restaurant could be seen as a base sign for other high-end restaurants in the city. The owners also say they and chef Tommy Cleary have new plans for the space, though they’ve yet to be revealed.
Following the abrupt closure of Hi Felicia in May, not long after a San Francisco Chronicle report detailed allegations of the restaurant being a difficult and at times unhealthy place to work, owner Imana opened a bar called Jellybean in the former restaurant space. That business also closed just two months later, however, marking an abrupt end to Imana’s meteoric rise to Bay Area fame. The young entrepreneur started Hi Felicia as a supper club in her apartment, earning a major boost after chef Alice Water dined there in 2021. The permanent restaurant debuted in 2022 with Michelin star ambitions — only to shutter about 13 months later following a high-profile break-in. Imana’s San Francisco wine bar Sluts remains open.
La Cocina Municipal Marketplace
The opening of La Cocina’s food hall in the heart of the Tenderloin marked a big investment in the troubled neighborhood back in 2021. But as of this summer, even the well-known food non-profit has largely pulled back its footprint in the area. In mid-July organizers announced that they’d close the food hall at the end of October, about a year before its planned closure to make way for affordable housing, telling the Chronicle the food hall was spending $275,000 on security annually and that monthly sales only brought in around $24,000. “We just never got there,” La Cocina executive director Leticia Landa told the Chronicle. “It’s hard and sad, but it’s very real.”
The original location of Philz Coffee in the Mission won’t close its doors until October 16, but the announcement that the company would give up its first outpost shook San Franciscans back in early August. Initially, the company said that after 20 years, its lease at 3101 24th Street was up and they didn’t plan to renew; it later came to light that the building is owned by the son of Philz Coffee co-founder Phil Jaber. Though Philz got its humble start in the Mission District in 2003, the company has since expanded to include dozens of locations throughout the country.