In commedia dell’arte, the character Harlequin was a sort of politically aware trickster-acrobat who could comment on the affairs of the day without repercussion. The way the wind is blowing in San Francisco these days, he’d be noting the sudden death of restaurants, bars, and other beloved institutions citywide.
In this case, it’s Hayes Valley’s Arlequin Cafe itself. Barely a few weeks after Traci Des Jardins announced the impending closure of the 22-year-old Jardinière on Grove Street, the 18-year-old Hayes Street cafe and its patio have shuttered, destined to become another concept that parent company Absinthe Group says can weather the times.
Meanwhile, on Bryant Street in the Mission, another 1990s all-star has breathed its last. Blowfish Sushi to Die For is in all likelihood a victim of a high-end omakase boom putting the squeeze on mid-tier, roll-centric sushi places. Having been around for 23 years, and spawned a few now-defunct spin-offs, it tried to hang on after a 2018 renovation, but the appetite apparently dimmed. It’s too bad, too, since this was a generous place where it was almost hard to miss happy hour, which ran nightly from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. to close.