DEVASTATING: Chow on Church Closes

Barely a month after the closure of next-door-neighbor Aardvark Books, a neighborhood reels from the loss of a 22-year-old mid-range icon.

Chow on Church has abruptly closed. In a Facebook post, the owners posted the following oddly cheery message with very little explanation: 

To our wonderful friends, neighbors and guests,

After nearly 22 wonderful years here on Church Street, we are closing our doors.

It has been a genuine pleasure for us to have been a part of your lives, to have been able to get to know you, and to have been able to feed you for all of these years.

We thank you for your kindness and support, and we will always carry that with us. We wish you all the best!

UPDATE: According to Eater, it was not a squabble with the landlord. This comes two years after the Park Chow location on Ninth Avenue shuttered with very little notice as well, causing much consternation among long-term employees who were blindsided by the turn of events. A short-lived Chow Oakland only made it about eight months, closing in October. The only remaining Chow is in Lafayette, where it appears to be doing a solid business.

Apart from the loss of a mid-tier neighborhood institution with a patio and a great Thai chicken salad, it comes shortly on the closure of Aardvark Books at 227 Church St. That area is absolutely bursting with commercial vacancies, among them Church Street Flowers, Chilango, Azteca Taqueria, Crepevine, and the much-missed 24-hour diner Sparky’s, which closed under strange circumstances in February 2016. Among brunchy spots, Home and Letitia’s closed a few years before that. The entire Castro is filled with empty storefronts, but Church Street has been particularly hard hit.

Every restaurant would love to be known as a gathering place, but Chow truly was. It was a Wednesday-Sunday kind of place, relaxed and full of comfort foods, and working there as a server was practically a rite of passage for a certain generation of Castro guys. Blueberry pancakes, big bowls of pasta, eggs benedict — Chow served the things you can get anywhere, but between the patio and the all-day breakfast, it had that special X factor that made you want to go there specifically. While it wasn’t going to win any awards, it’s exactly the kind of mid-range spot that’s fast disappearing — and yeah, technically it was a wine bar, too. RIP, Chow.

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