S.F. Restaurant Closures in December, Plus the Departed of 2009

Like a functioning drunk who embarks on a last, glorious fling before contemplating a month of sobriety, December was a chance for some restaurants to bow out ― in a final grease fire of glory ― forever. Others just shut the doors a last time and just dropped the keys through the mail slot.

Acme Chophouse took quiet leave of Willie Mays Plaza before the month ended; within days, construction crews were papering over the windows to split the sprawling space into two restaurants due to launch before the first home pitch of the 2010 baseball season. Not far away, South bid farewell to Down Under ― it'll reopen with a new chef, only one of the three original owners, and a new concept. The midcentury not-so-modern Carnelian Room just plain took itself out of its misery. Same with relative newcomer Zinnia, which wilted before it ever caught diners' interest, much less their imagination. And on Fillmore, Carlo Middione's 30-year-old Vivande Porta Via slipped away quietly, like a shy guest slinking out of a party.

After decades, the Castro's Cote Sud flamed out with a New Year's Eve flourish. Same with Laïola, whose owner ― Joe Hargrave ― opted to morph the place into Tacolicious (due next week), but not before a four-night farewell, complete with original cast. It was a fitting end for a difficult year that somehow avoided citywide restaurant calamity, and saw a surprising number of openings, even as it witnessed the demise of a distinguished roster of S.F. eateries. Check out a list of December's departed after the jump, followed by the notable places that failed in 2009.

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