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Lucca Ravioli in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Lucca Ravioli in San Francisco’s Mission District.
Jordan Geller and Jeffrey Williams

Mapping everything that’s closed or closing in SF this year

Lest we forget

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Lucca Ravioli in San Francisco’s Mission District.
| Jordan Geller and Jeffrey Williams

Earlier this week, the Washington Post predictably declared that San Francisco had “broken America’s heart,” leading with a dramatic anecdote of how the nearly century-old Lucca Ravioli on Valencia Street closed in April.

According to popular perception, tech money and a never-ending real estate explosion are strangling the old San Francisco, as evidenced by the death of retail and dining favorites that has accelerated in the past 12 months.

To a degree, that perception is true; however, there’s more to these high-profile closures than meets the eye.

Some of them are victims of our tech-obsessed modern age and merciless market prices. Others, though, are undone by factors like bad luck, twists of fate, or the inevitable departure of longtime chieftains. The owners of Lucca Ravioli, for example, finally get to retire and make a good chunk of change selling the property.

And a few have even managed the seemingly impossible by springing back to life even amid their own funeral dirges.

Here’s a look back at what we’ve lost over the past year, and some of the lessons—often bitter but sometimes hopeful—that came with the departures.

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1. Beach Blanket Babylon

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678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-4222
Visit Website

After running non-stop for 45 years for audiences ranging from Willie Brown to Queen Elizabeth II, the quintessential San Francisco camp theater experience will play its last date on December 31. They’re not being forced out; producer Jo Schuman Silver simply feels it’s time to wrap things up.

A performer in a giant novelty hat of the San Francisco skyline, with a model of Salesforce Tower at center. Jakub Mosur Photography

2. The Punch Line San Francisco

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444 Battery St
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 397-7573
Visit Website

The historic comedy club that once counted Robin Williams among its regulars will lose the lease on its longtime (since 1978) locale on Battery Street in August.

Club owners are making spirited public statements about finding a new spot, while the likes of Dave Chappelle, W. Kamau Bell, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and now even Google rallied this week to try to save it.

The green awning of the Punch Line comedy club. Photo by Blackguard SF

3. The Hound Gentlemen’s Clothiers

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140 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 989-0429

This old-school clothiers near Union Square almost pulled itself back from the brink with an unexpected buyout offer in February, but the deal collapsed at the last minute. The 46-year-old FiDi favorite had trouble keeping up with the powerhouse of online retail.

4. Nob Hill Theater

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729 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

New owners took over the longtime gay nude review on Bush Street in 2012 and reported that business at the circa-1968 venue was as frisky as ever. But the pair decided to retire last year, and the new owners dropped the final curtain on the party in August, preferring to put the building to other uses.

5. Gump’s

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135 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108

Not only was Gump’s San Francisco’s oldest department store, after 157 years it was among the oldest things in San Francisco—period. But there’s no such thing as forever, and Gump’s filed for bankruptcy in 2018, shutting down before Christmas.

Forbes reported that Gump’s adapted to the tech scene well, and did almost all of its sales online during its final days, but blamed just plain poor business choices for doing what wars, depressions, and even the 1906 earthquake couldn’t do before.

Photo by BrokenSphere

6. Elite Cafe

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2049 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

Long a mainstay of Fillmore dining, the Elite Cafe started dishing out New Orleans-inspired fare in 1981 and took on new owners in 2016. Eater SF reported in April that a dearth of late-night patrons helped cashed out the place’s elite status, and it closed shortly thereafter.

Google

7. Hemlock Tavern

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1145 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

It was the despair of SF’s punk scene when the Hemlock Tavern announced in August that the building and bar’s new owners planned to demolish the longtime music dive in favor of condos. The wrecking ball arrived in early May to clear the way for a six-story mixed-use building with 54 homes.

Of note: Seventeen years earlier, the Hemlock replaced the Giraffe, one of the famous gay bars on Polk Street.

8. Divas

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1081 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 474-3482
Visit Website

Of the late Divas in Polk Gulch, SF author David Steinberg wrote, “The bottom line of Divas is the courage and integrity of the trans women who frequent the club. [...] The bar, founded to be a place of refuge and safety for them, carries their spirit of freedom, truth, and independence.”

Sadly, all of that courage was tested when the longtime owner of both the building and the club put the Divas locale up for sale earlier this year.

9. AMC Van Ness

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1000 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

Located in a former Cadillac dealership circa-1922, the third AMC multiplex in San Francisco fell on hard times in recent years, not receiving the same renovations and perks as its siblings downtown or in Japantown. A mysterious dearth of showings and new movies presaged its mysterious closure in February.

10. Silver Sprocket

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1687 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Silver Sprocket is an old SF favorite for 22 years, but until 2017 it never had a storefront of its own, instead selling independent comics as a home business before moving to Haight Street. Easy come easy go: Silver Sprocket lost the outlet earlier this year, only to soon reopen again next door. The casualty in that exchange was the t-shirt store Bang-On, which closed in 2018.

Adam L Brinklow

11. Aardvark Books

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227 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114

The owner of this homey circa-1978 bookshop near Market Street also owned the building, but this did not spare the store from closure when he decided to put the place on the market. Sold in October 2018 for $2.43 million (the original asking price was $2.85 million), Aardvark went extinct earlier this year.

Photo by Lynn Friedman

12. Elbo Room

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647 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

After many, many closure scares, the marketplace finally elbowed this favorite Mission dive bar and music venue out of the way earlier this year, only for a virtually identical venue called the Valencia Room to immediately open in its place.

13. Outfit

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463 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

Forty-year favorite All-American Boy closed on Castro in 2008, replaced in the same space by Outfit and its tremendous signage.

Although the replacement duds hung in for more than ten years, owner Ryan Hill told Hoodline that an unbelievable $6,700-per-month rent price these days was the one thing that they couldn’t outfit, noting that even if the rent was cut in half that they couldn’t stay open.

Google

14. Borderlands Cafe

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866 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-8203
Visit Website

The sci-fi themed Borderlands bookstore suffered a closure scare a few years back, but righted itself through sponsorship from dedicated customers and will soon move into a new Haight Street locale that it bought outright.

The adjoining Borderlands Cafe was not so lucky, crossing the final frontier in April, with owner Alan Beatts blaming slumping sales and a dearth of workers.

15. Lucca Ravioli Company

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1100 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

This Mission institution was in place on Valencia Street since 1925 and went off the great pasta banquet in the sky in April.

Long a family business, none of the new generation were interested in continuing the family enterprise, so owner Michael Feno put the building up for sale asking $1.45 million and closed up shop.

A billboard advertising pasta on the side of the Lucca Ravioli building. Photos courtesy of Jordan Geller and Jeffrey Williams

16. Macy’s Stonestown

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3251 20th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 759-2626
Visit Website

The Macy’s store was the cornerstone of the Stonestown Galleria, but online competition is pressuring the deparment store giant from all sides and it closed the locale in early 2018 as part of a mass contraction of stores nationwide.

Replacement stores for the huge space, including a Whole Foods, are still putting down roots, but the rest of the mall has hung in for now.

1. Beach Blanket Babylon

678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94133
A performer in a giant novelty hat of the San Francisco skyline, with a model of Salesforce Tower at center. Jakub Mosur Photography

After running non-stop for 45 years for audiences ranging from Willie Brown to Queen Elizabeth II, the quintessential San Francisco camp theater experience will play its last date on December 31. They’re not being forced out; producer Jo Schuman Silver simply feels it’s time to wrap things up.

678 Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. The Punch Line San Francisco

444 Battery St, San Francisco, CA 94111
The green awning of the Punch Line comedy club. Photo by Blackguard SF

The historic comedy club that once counted Robin Williams among its regulars will lose the lease on its longtime (since 1978) locale on Battery Street in August.

Club owners are making spirited public statements about finding a new spot, while the likes of Dave Chappelle, W. Kamau Bell, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, and now even Google rallied this week to try to save it.

444 Battery St
San Francisco, CA 94111

3. The Hound Gentlemen’s Clothiers

140 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94104

This old-school clothiers near Union Square almost pulled itself back from the brink with an unexpected buyout offer in February, but the deal collapsed at the last minute. The 46-year-old FiDi favorite had trouble keeping up with the powerhouse of online retail.

140 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94104

4. Nob Hill Theater

729 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94108

New owners took over the longtime gay nude review on Bush Street in 2012 and reported that business at the circa-1968 venue was as frisky as ever. But the pair decided to retire last year, and the new owners dropped the final curtain on the party in August, preferring to put the building to other uses.

729 Bush St
San Francisco, CA 94108

5. Gump’s

135 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108
Photo by BrokenSphere

Not only was Gump’s San Francisco’s oldest department store, after 157 years it was among the oldest things in San Francisco—period. But there’s no such thing as forever, and Gump’s filed for bankruptcy in 2018, shutting down before Christmas.

Forbes reported that Gump’s adapted to the tech scene well, and did almost all of its sales online during its final days, but blamed just plain poor business choices for doing what wars, depressions, and even the 1906 earthquake couldn’t do before.

135 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108

6. Elite Cafe

2049 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Google

Long a mainstay of Fillmore dining, the Elite Cafe started dishing out New Orleans-inspired fare in 1981 and took on new owners in 2016. Eater SF reported in April that a dearth of late-night patrons helped cashed out the place’s elite status, and it closed shortly thereafter.

2049 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115

7. Hemlock Tavern

1145 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

It was the despair of SF’s punk scene when the Hemlock Tavern announced in August that the building and bar’s new owners planned to demolish the longtime music dive in favor of condos. The wrecking ball arrived in early May to clear the way for a six-story mixed-use building with 54 homes.

Of note: Seventeen years earlier, the Hemlock replaced the Giraffe, one of the famous gay bars on Polk Street.

1145 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

8. Divas

1081 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

Of the late Divas in Polk Gulch, SF author David Steinberg wrote, “The bottom line of Divas is the courage and integrity of the trans women who frequent the club. [...] The bar, founded to be a place of refuge and safety for them, carries their spirit of freedom, truth, and independence.”

Sadly, all of that courage was tested when the longtime owner of both the building and the club put the Divas locale up for sale earlier this year.

1081 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94109

9. AMC Van Ness

1000 Van Ness Ave, San Francisco, CA 94109

Located in a former Cadillac dealership circa-1922, the third AMC multiplex in San Francisco fell on hard times in recent years, not receiving the same renovations and perks as its siblings downtown or in Japantown. A mysterious dearth of showings and new movies presaged its mysterious closure in February.

1000 Van Ness Ave
San Francisco, CA 94109

10. Silver Sprocket

1687 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Adam L Brinklow

Silver Sprocket is an old SF favorite for 22 years, but until 2017 it never had a storefront of its own, instead selling independent comics as a home business before moving to Haight Street. Easy come easy go: Silver Sprocket lost the outlet earlier this year, only to soon reopen again next door. The casualty in that exchange was the t-shirt store Bang-On, which closed in 2018.

1687 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

11. Aardvark Books

227 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Photo by Lynn Friedman

The owner of this homey circa-1978 bookshop near Market Street also owned the building, but this did not spare the store from closure when he decided to put the place on the market. Sold in October 2018 for $2.43 million (the original asking price was $2.85 million), Aardvark went extinct earlier this year.

227 Church St
San Francisco, CA 94114

12. Elbo Room

647 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

After many, many closure scares, the marketplace finally elbowed this favorite Mission dive bar and music venue out of the way earlier this year, only for a virtually identical venue called the Valencia Room to immediately open in its place.

647 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

13. Outfit

463 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Google

Forty-year favorite All-American Boy closed on Castro in 2008, replaced in the same space by Outfit and its tremendous signage.

Although the replacement duds hung in for more than ten years, owner Ryan Hill told Hoodline that an unbelievable $6,700-per-month rent price these days was the one thing that they couldn’t outfit, noting that even if the rent was cut in half that they couldn’t stay open.

463 Castro St
San Francisco, CA 94114

14. Borderlands Cafe

866 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

The sci-fi themed Borderlands bookstore suffered a closure scare a few years back, but righted itself through sponsorship from dedicated customers and will soon move into a new Haight Street locale that it bought outright.

The adjoining Borderlands Cafe was not so lucky, crossing the final frontier in April, with owner Alan Beatts blaming slumping sales and a dearth of workers.

866 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

15. Lucca Ravioli Company

1100 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
A billboard advertising pasta on the side of the Lucca Ravioli building. Photos courtesy of Jordan Geller and Jeffrey Williams

This Mission institution was in place on Valencia Street since 1925 and went off the great pasta banquet in the sky in April.

Long a family business, none of the new generation were interested in continuing the family enterprise, so owner Michael Feno put the building up for sale asking $1.45 million and closed up shop.

1100 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

16. Macy’s Stonestown

3251 20th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132

The Macy’s store was the cornerstone of the Stonestown Galleria, but online competition is pressuring the deparment store giant from all sides and it closed the locale in early 2018 as part of a mass contraction of stores nationwide.

Replacement stores for the huge space, including a Whole Foods, are still putting down roots, but the rest of the mall has hung in for now.

3251 20th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132