CLICK HERE if you are having trouble viewing these photos on a mobile device
Bay Area diners said farewell to a lot of beloved restaurants in 2019.
The ones we pay tribute to here were no flash-in-the-pan operations — many had been favorites for generations. Some chefs and owners decided to retire; some decided to capitalize on skyrocketing land values; some couldn’t weather the costs of doing business in the Bay Area; and some fell victim to competition or changing consumer tastes.
Here, in order of longevity, were 15 favorites that shut their doors from Daly City and San Jose to Crockett and Walnut Creek. (One of these — The Ranch — will be in business for a few more days if you want to make a pilgrimage.)
ESTRADA’S, 102 YEARS: Way back in 1917, this old-school restaurant opened on Daly City’s Mission Street under the name of Estrada’s Spanish Kitchen, with recipes from family matriarch Louisa Estrada. In the century-plus since then, a succession of owners carried on the tradition. The last 12 years belonged to Julio Mercedes and Bernadette Aggen, who decided to retire in February — and retire the name and the recipes. During the final days, the kitchen was firing up order after order of Estrada’s most popular dish, the Sizzling Tostada with its olive oil-red wine vinaigrette. The secret to the sizzle all those years? A hot iron plate.
WING’S CHINESE, 94 YEARS: The neon wings have stopped flapping in San Jose’s Japantown. Wing’s, the city’s oldest full-service restaurant, marked by that historic sign, quietly closed its doors in February. Over the years, customers had spoken wistfully of the frozen-in-time setting, from the flocked velvet wallpaper to the push buttons customers could use to ring for service from the privacy of their booth. Alas, time took its toll on this 1925 building; remodeling and ADA work would have cost an estimated $500,000. Since the closing, the most recent Wing’s owner has opened a catering operation nearby and the sign has been moved to San Jose’s History Park for safekeeping.
THE RANCH, 71 YEARS: This Western-themed restaurant, laden with agricultural memorabilia, dates back to 1948 and Hayward’s heyday as a farming and commercial cannery center. Only two families — Perolo and Sarantakis — have owned this local legend over the decades. But there’s no one in the Sarantakis family to keep the tradition going, and their landlord has development in mind for the property. However, there’s still time to stop by to relive memories and enjoy a linguiça sandwich: The Ranch doesn’t close until Dec. 31.
TSUGARU, 47 YEARS: Yes, a second restaurant in Japantown bit the dust this year. The building that housed Tsugaru, a classic Japanese restaurant, was sold and will be renovated for a new use. But this historic San Jose district is as vibrant as ever, with new neighborhood eating spots and new housing reviving the customer base. And there are still many sentimental favorites here: The oldest restaurant in Japantown, Minato, will celebrate 59 years in 2020. Down the street, Okayama will mark 53 years in business.
THE NANTUCKET, 44 YEARS: In the historic town of Crockett, a restaurant has been tucked under the Carquinez Bridge since a few years after the span was built in 1927. According to old-timers, the first one was Dowrelio’s, followed by Galley Seafood and then Bouillabaisse. The Nantucket Restaurant operated from 1975 to 1993, after which the marina owners took over and called their place simply The Nantucket. That kitchen delivered the last bowls of Ray’s Seafood Pasta and New England-style clam chowder in February. The fate of this Crockett property and nearby acreage rests with its owner, the California State Lands Commission.
HARRY’S HOFBRAU, 42 YEARS: The meat carvers set down their knives in January when this hofbrau, a Saratoga Avenue mainstay, closed to make way for new development. St. Patrick’s Day in San Jose may never be the same: Harry’s always served hundreds of corned beef platters and sandwiches that day. But take heart, you meat lovers, because they’re still carving at the Harry’s locations in Redwood City and San Leandro.
SU HONG, 42 YEARS: Since 1977, there has been a Su Hong on the Peninsula serving the restaurants’ signature Shanghai cuisine to locals — as well as to chefs needing a takeout fix after their shifts nearby. But this year owner David King declared it was time to retire. The original opened in Menlo Park on El Camino Real; the final one in this small local chain was located in Palo Alto, also on El Camino.
MINERVA’S, 40 YEARS: Many of Lebanon-born Minerva Geha’s recipes — particularly her cinnamon rolls and pita bread — were legendary at this breakfast and lunch institution in Fremont’s Centerville district. The restaurant had just two owners over the decades, the Geha and Kong families. With development plans in the works for this stretch of Fremont Boulevard, Christina Kong retired and closed the eatery in early October.
PROLIFIC OVEN, 39 YEARS: Chocolate on Chocolate Cake. Carrot Cake with rum-kissed cream cheese frosting. Marzipan-draped Princess Cake. For nearly four decades, original owner Harriet Spier and later the Chan family baked decadent desserts for appreciative customers on the Peninsula and in the South Bay. But the region’s labor shortage and the high costs of doing business forced this Palo Alto bakery-cafe to shut down operations in August, with Regina Chan saying she’d rather do that than cut corners.
CHO’S, 39 YEARS: The called him the Potsticker King, an old-school cook-entrepreneur who worked from morning to night and until the end, ran a cash-only business. Cho Yu operated Cho’s Mandarin Dim Sum for 35 years out of a small storefront in Palo Alto before relocating to another small storefront in Los Altos. In January of this year, he and his wife decided to retire — nearly five decades after immigrating here from Hong Kong.
MIRAKU, 34 YEARS: For decades this North Broadway restaurant in Walnut Creek had been a go-to for sushi and sashimi served in a mellow, low-lit dining room. Fans lamented its October closing on Yelp, praising the serene atmosphere and noting that it was one of the few spots in the East Bay where one could find the savory egg custard known as chawanmushi. The owners and staff posted a thank-you note on the door: “We all made a million memories in this restaurant.”
KINCAID’S, 33 YEARS: It’s been a rough couple of years for the East Bay’s waterfront seafood scene. In 2018, Spenger’s, Hs Lordships and Salute e Vita all closed their doors, followed by the Nantucket. This fall, Kincaid’s parent company closed the venerable seafood, steak and chops location at Jack London Square in Oakland. With it went the views, the oven-roasted crab-and-artichoke dip and the shellfish fettuccine. But the views and the menu remain on the other side of the bay at Kincaid’s in Burlingame.
BO TOWN, 30 YEARS: Long before this part of downtown San Jose became known as the SoFA district, Chinese-Vietnamese cuisine reigned at South Second and San Salvador streets. Until its closing in March, the spacious Bo Town hosted hundreds of anniversary and birthday parties and wedding receptions over the years, and its kitchen became known for churning out an impressive list of dishes. How impressive? The menu numbered 128 items — from deep-fried quail to lemongrass frog legs.
STANFORD’S, 23 YEARS: This restaurant and bar expanded from Washington state to Walnut Creek back in 1996 and became a Broadway Plaza mainstay for steaks and cocktails. For years, the brick facade housed a darkly lit restaurant filled with deep booths that attracted families celebrating everything from special events to just plain Saturday nights. The festivities came to an end over the summer.
JARDINIERE, 21-PLUS YEARS: Noted chef Traci des Jardins, a James Beard Award winner, stunned the San Francisco culinary world when she announced last spring that she was closing her flagship restaurant. What with increased competition and rising costs, Jardiniere just wasn’t thriving, she explained, leading her to turn her attention to her other dining ventures. She and designer Pat Kuleto had ushered in a new era of fine dining in the Hayes Valley and Civic Center area when they partnered to open this palace of French-California cuisine in 1997.
Source: Thanks https://www.mercurynews.com/15-long-lived-bay-area-restaurants-we-said-goodbye-to-in-2019