Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic, the Bay Area food and dining casualties continue to mount. Here are some of the restaurants and other food and drink purveyors that have closed for good during the pandemic:
Albatross Pub — This storied Berkeley bar on San Pablo Avenue closes this month after 56 years in business. Owner Andrew McGee said in his social media note that rent demands on top of coronavirus shutdown led to the decision. Read the full story.
Au Coquelet Cafe — This Berkeley institution closed in October after more than 46 years on University Avenue. It was a hub for students, late-night diners and local political groups, serving a large selection of craft beers, burgers and other comfort food.
Bamboo Sushi — The San Ramon location of the Portland-based sustainable sushi chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 12, saying in a statement that the coronavirus lockdown limited its ability to generate revenue or get financing to make it through the crisis. The company has also launched a sale process. Read the full story.
Benchmark — “Without a strong to-go business, we are unable to break even and adequately care for our employees,” the note on this Oakland pizzeria’s website read in late April. “The end is nowhere in sight, and it is likely that our industry will be forever changed when this is over. We lack the capital to navigate that future.” Benchmark in Kensington remains open for takeout.
Black Angus — The long-running Black Angus steakhouse chain quietly shuttered its Milpitas restaurant, leaving the Bay Area with five locations. This steakhouse had operated for 26 years at McCarthy Ranch off Interstate 880. Read the full story.
Chantal Guillon — After 12 years, San Francisco and Palo Alto macaron maker Chantal Guillon said “au revoir.” She wrote to her customers: “It is not the time that passes, but the time left that counts.” Read the full story.
Chocolate Dream Box — The coronavirus dealt a blow to this small Los Gatos business during its normally busy season (Easter, Mother’s Day, teacher gifts) so chocolatier Holly Westbrook closed up shop for good. She had been specializing in Belgian-style, hand-crafted chocolates for 26 years. Read the full story.
Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler — In early April, the owners of Mountain View’s oldest restaurant, Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler, said they couldn’t weather the coronavirus crisis and shut down the business for good. A rustic throwback, the landmark El Camino Real eatery had been serving burgers, fries, barbecue and milkshakes since 1945. According to the posted history, Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler was established by H.W. Clarke and purchased years later by Jim and Liz Blach. Read the full story.
Cleophus Quealy Beer Company: This five-year-old San Leandro brewery and taproom announced it would be closing for good via its blog on March 17, the day after Alameda County ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. “These measures are in the best interest of the public and will surely help to protect us all, but we unfortunately can’t weather the storm ahead,” it read.
Doppio Zero: With Apple employees and others working from home, business at the Cupertino location of this artisan pizza and pasta restaurant had dropped off. So the owners have closed this one but also opened a new Doppio Zero in Concord. Locations in Mountain View and San Francisco remain open. Read the full story.
Emperor Norton’s — When this Italian restaurant and pizzeria opened in 1975 in San Jose’s Santa Teresa area, the eatery could count among its neighbors plenty of IBM employees and blossoming orchards. The Emperor outlasted the disk-drive factory and most of the fruit trees. But today’s challenging economic climate for restaurants, worsened by the coronavirus crisis, made the business unsustainable, owners Todd and Lauryce Haney said. The restaurant closed down April 26. Read the full story.
Farallon — Farallon, a collaboration between restaurateur-designer Pat Kuleto and chef Mark Franz, attracted diners as much for its fantastical underwater motif, with jellyfish lights floating above a clamshell interior, as for its seafood. Popular with theater-goers for pre- and post-show meals and cocktails, the Union Square restaurant closed after 23 years. Read the full story.
First Street Cafe — This Benicia mainstay shuttered on June 30 after 24 years in the downtown waterfront hamlet. “These past three months have been a most challenging time for us,” the owners wrote in a farewell Facebook post. “As we look into a future that is completely unpredictable, we see no viable way of remaining in business.”
Fish Market — Because of the coronavirus economy, the owners of this venerable chain of seafood restaurants announced that they were unable to renegotiate the lease for their South San Jose location, which had been in business on Blossom Hill Road 23 years, since 1997. The shutdown leaves the chain with three Bay Area restaurants — Palo Alto, Santa Clara and San Mateo — and two in Southern California. Read the full story.
Hooters — The closing of this sports bar chain’s San Bruno location in June leaves the Bay Area with just one Hooters where fans can get their chicken-wing fix. It’s in Sonoma County. Read the full story.
Independent Brewing Co. — Owner Stephen McDaniel launched his Independent Brewing Co., fittingly, on the Fourth of July seven years ago. This past Fourth, he announced “with much mixed emotion” the permanent closing of the Oakland venture. The brewery was the first to establish itself in the Jack London Square area. Read the full story.
La Guerrera’s Kitchen — Ofelia Barajas and Reyna Maldonado of La Cocina-backed La Guerrera’s Kitchen will not be re-opening their Mexican restaurant that shared its space with Aloha Club in Oakland’s Fruitvale District. But they are looking for a bigger location elsewhere in Oakland, according to Eater SF.
Lalime’s — Berkeley’s Cal-Med restaurant of 35 years announced on April 28 via its website that it would be closing its doors permanently. “Covid-19 has made the decision for us,” the message read. The Krikorian family first opened on Solano Avenue in 1985 before moving it to its Gilman Street location in Berkeley in 1988. Read the full story.
Mayfield Bakery & Cafe — For 11 years, Palo Alto’s popular Mayfield has combined a chef-driven, farm-to-table restaurant and a scratch bakery. But Tim Stannard of the Bacchus Group, the owners, said “the impact of the COVID-19 virus and the subsequent shelter-in-place orders have reduced revenues to an unsustainable level.” The closing of this dual enterprise leaves a major vacancy at Town & Country Village. Read the full story.
Momo & Curry — The Oakland outpost of this Indo-Chinese restaurant closed at the end of April. As first reported by Hoodline, a sign on the window thanked customers, stating that the restaurant was not able to make it through shelter-in-place financially. The Concord location remains open for takeout.
Nick’s Next Door — Nick Difu, the popular homegrown chef who was equally at home in the kitchen and the front of the house, decided May 21 to “walk away” from his eponymous Nick’s Next Door restaurant in Los Gatos. “This was never my intention but because we are in unprecedented times, I have been forced to make this difficult decision to close. I hope everybody understands,” he wrote. Read the full story.
Nine Zero Seven Grill — A for-rent sign in the window confirms the permanent closure of this bar, eatery and social lounge, which shuttered back in March in downtown Benicia. The restaurant was known for its Mexican influences, including Taco Weekdays and margaritas.
Paul Martin’s — Citing the economic impact of the coronavirus, Paul Martin’s American Grill shut down its Mountain View location (at the Village at San Antonio). But the corporate headquarters reopened the San Mateo/Hillsdale restaurant after previously announcing that one as a closure. Read the full story.
Prima Ristorante — After 43 years, Walnut Creek’s award-winning Prima Ristorante — an upscale destination for lovers of fine Italian food and wine since 1977 — will close permanently, a victim of these coronavirus times. The decision was announced in early July to customers in a wrenching note from John Rittmaster, the wine director who in 2005 bought the restaurant with executive chef Peter Chastain. But the wine-shop side of the business, Prima Vini, will live on. Read the full story.
Rita’s Italian Ice — The Campbell franchise of this East Coast company closed its doors Aug. 2. “We lost the financial battle with COVID-19 and heartbroken that we have decided to close permanently,” franchise owner Ramya Ramamurthy posted on social media. Read the full story.
Specialty’s Cafe & Bakery — The COVID-19 era concept of working from home dealt a final blow to this restaurant-catering group founded in the Bay Area 33 years ago. The Pleasanton-based chain, whose specialty was serving sandwiches, salads, soup and freshly baked cookies to the weekday lunch crowd and delivering boxed lunches for office meetings, shut down May 19. More than 50 locations in California, Washington and Illinois were affected. Read the full story.
Sunny Donuts — Slow sales during this coronavirus year sped up the Lim family’s plans for retirement. Owners Chip and Sara were refugees who fled the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, saving up enough money to buy their own doughnut shop. For 33 years, they baked and sold doughnuts at the corner of Union and Camden avenues in San Jose’s Cambrian district. Read the full story.
Sweet Tomatoes — The 97 restaurants of the Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation chain — known for their 50-foot-long salad bars and serve-yourself soup, pasta and pizza stations — closed permanently because of the coronavirus crisis. “I’m not sure the health departments are ever going to allow” buffets and salad bars again, CEO John Haywood said May 7. Read the full story.
Tam Tam — Sisters Tammy Huynh and Tanya Huynh Hartley have announced they are not renewing the lease for their Tam Tam restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, and will be shutting down at that location. However, they hope to reopen in the future elsewhere. Read the full story.
Tartine — The SF-based bakery located inside Berkeley’s Graduate Hotel closed in late April 24 after only seven months when employees received a letter telling them that the Graduate Hotel “has ended their contract with Tartine” citing ‘business decline’ and ‘COVID-19,’ according to an Instagram post by tartineunion, a group of employees trying to unionize the bakery’s Bay Area employees. The news was first reported by Berkeleyside’s Nosh.
The Lede — Cal Peternell’s lunch spot, which opened in September in the Oakland coworking-and-production space StudioToBe, announced via Instagram that the restaurant is closing after the landlord canceled its lease. “We have to close. Thanks for all the support. Here’s to better days,” it says. The Lede is now popping up at Cafe Encina in Oakland on Thursdays and Fridays.
Ton Kiang — For decades, dim sum fans flocked to Geary Street for this restaurant’s legendary siu mai, crab miso noodles and egg custard tarts. Owner Richard Wong, whose family operated the restaurant for 42 years, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had been thinking of retirement anyway before the pandemic hit. Closing day was Aug. 30.
Vault 164: A circa 1925 bank that had been transformed into a downtown San Mateo dining destination eight years ago, Vault 164 has closed permanently, a casualty of the coronavirus era. The PPP money was running out and a buyer emerged, so owner Brad Goldberg sold and shut down. The restaurant was known for its American farm-to-table cuisine and cocktails. Read the full story.
Viognier — It’s a rare grocery store that features an elegant restaurant on the second floor. But that’s what the family-owned Draeger’s Market gave Peninsula customers when they opened a store in downtown San Mateo in 1997 with chef Gary Danko at the helm. The family announced the permanent closing in late May, citing the pandemic’s impact on fine dining. Read the full story.
Worth Group — In June, Tri-Valley restaurateur Rodney Worth shuttered Worth Ranch in San Ramon and Prickly Pear Cantina in Danville, citing that the coronavirus pandemic and the state’s “harsh business climate” contributed to his decision. He said that the fallout from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power shutoffs in late 2019 also contributed to his decision to close. Read more here.
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