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Aug 25, 2020 4 min read

Permanent Closures Include Ton Kiang, Farallon, The Riddler, and More, Plus the Temporary Closure of Jersey and Mama Oakland

Permanent Closures Include Ton Kiang, Farallon, The Riddler, and More, Plus the Temporary Closure of Jersey and Mama Oakland
The exterior of Ton Kiang will be going dark forever at the end of August. Yelp photo by Andrew D.
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What the heck, the last couple weeks have been rough—we have some pretty big closures happening, and one of the biggest heartbreaks for many is TON KIANG, which is throwing in the towel after more than 40 years of serving so many faithful regulars their dim sum and Hakka-style dishes. I remember being so excited when Joyce Goldstein took me there for my first time, back in 2008 (according to my calendar). I had friends and readers sending me pics of Ton Kiang’s farewell sign, and according to the piece in the Chronicle, owner Richard Wong was thinking about retiring soon, and the pandemic just sped his decision up to close (although in this piece by Eater, he mentions he may want to reopen in a couple years if he gets bored with retirement—you gotta love restaurant folks, they just can’t quit). They have been offering takeout and delivery, and will continue to do so this final week, so it’s your last chance for their salt-baked chicken until they close after service on Sunday August 30th. 5821 Geary Blvd. at 22nd Ave.

Another SF classic that has closed permanently is FARALLON, after 23 years in Union Square. The underwater nautical fantasy was another one of Pat Kuleto’s whimsical, transportive designs, and chef-owner Mark Franz provided an elegant seafood experience for guests that was memorable and celebratory—so many special occasions have been held there! (Although the bar always had a fun scene of regulars, and the Oyster Bar had a great happy hour if you were downtown.) SFGate reported employees received an email about the closure. So many folks have worked at Farallon over the years…and I know a number of people want the jellyfish lights for a memento. Thanks for all the Champagne wishes and caviar dreams over the years! 450 Post St. at Powell.

Just a few days ago, owner Jen Pelka of THE RIDDLER in Hayes Valley announced on Instagram that she has made the hard decision to close her beloved Champagne bar, as well as the West Village location in New York. The current situation is just too tough for the business to survive, it’s truly impossible. While they have already sold through their Champagne inventory, in the fall, they will be auctioning off their tables, gorg vintage Champagne buckets, furniture, art, and lighting. Thank you for the celebratory memories (and Chambong moments!). 528 Laguna St. at Linden.

Some unfortunate closures in the Mission include PICA PICA AREPA KITCHEN, the Venezuelan restaurant on Valencia that has been making gluten-free folks especially happy with their stuffed arepas for the past 10 years. Owner Adriana López Vermut talks to SFGate about how the pandemic and subsequent loss of catering business for tech companies has drastically impacted her business, and she shares how her team helped cook 30,000 meals for the unhoused during shelter in place through money they raised (and were therefore able to retain 17 employees). She also posted a link to a personal note on her website. Best wishes to Adriana and her team, the last day is Sunday August 30th. 401 Valencia St. at 15th St.

And just down the street, THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA announced they are closing their Valencia Street location after eight years—they just closed this past Sunday August 23rd. Owner Andrew Johnstone mentions in the post the other locations that remain open: “Our OG location on Divisidero in Lower Haight (it turns 13 in October), 24th Street in Noe Valley and Polk Gulch on Polk Street and California. Fear not, you can still get your favorite burritos delivered via our website if you’re jonesin’ in the Mission. You can also order online for pickup at any of our restaurants.” 581 Valencia St. at 17th St.

I was sorry to read this letter from neighborhood market DOUGLAS in Noe Valley that “After extensive negotiations, we’ve been unable to find a sustainable arrangement with our landlord that would allow us to weather current conditions and make investments for the longer term.” Owners Maggie Spicer and Michael Molesky plan to vacate at the end of August, and are looking for a new location nearby. In the meantime, they are expanding their supportive restaurant meal pickup program (BENNE) to Biondivino and 18 Reasons. 1598 Sanchez St. at 29th St.

Many restaurants are choosing to hibernate and try to weather the current horrific conditions, and sadly one of my favorite pizza places, JERSEY, has had to temporarily close. A note on their site says: “Jersey is temporarily closed. Unfortunately, we are unable to continue without the aid of a stimulus bill. We anxiously await a decision from the government, and will re-open as soon as one is passed. We sincerely thank all of you for your support, and hope to be back soon. Until then, take care.” You hear that, federal government? Get your act together! Please tell Congress to pass the Restaurants Act here.

Over in Oakland, owners Stevie Stacionis and Josiah Baldivino of MAMA OAKLAND have come to the same conclusion, ending their #sandwichinplace service this week and are closing up indefinitely in an effort to save resources and keep everyone on their team healthy. It’s a tough post to read. Fortunately, you can still support them at Bay Grape, but man, it just keeps getting worse out there.

The exterior of Ton Kiang will be going dark forever at the end of August. Yelp photo by Andrew D.

Farallon dining room.
Maize’wich with catira (chicken, sofrito, cheddar). Photo: ©
There will be all kinds of pop at The Riddler. Photo: Kassie Borreson.
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