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One Last Night at Giordano Bros

North Beach sandwich shop calls it quits.


If you didn’t know better, it seemed like any other night at Giordano Bros: Cold cuts sizzled on the grill, and the North Beach sandwich shop was packed from end to end with neighbors watching the US Women’s Soccer team beat Germany 2-0 on five televisions. But in fact this was the last night, because after 11 years, Giordano Bros on Columbus abruptly announced that it was closing June 30.

Co-owner Jeff Jordan told the Chronicle, in effect, that the North Beach restaurant was never quite big enough to accommodate them, and that keeping it around prevented them from seeking out better sites elsewhere. The Giordano Bros at 16th and Mission will remain, keeping San Francisco in French fry sandwiches for the conceivable future, but it won't be quite the same. North Beach has rows and rows of fine dining, dark clubs, and on-the-fly pizza, but without Giordano Bros there are few places that could be termed neighborhood hangouts. You won’t see a jackalope on the wall at Coi, or even at Caffe Trieste, is all we're saying.

If any of the regulars were feeling bummed out they didn’t show it, although again, that might have been because of the win over Germany. As always, the place was at greater than standing room capacity (two hours after opening people were spilling out into the streets), and the wait for service was, well, not exactly prompt. “We’ll get to you eventually,” the bartender promised. Hey, it’s not like they were counting on fostering repeat business at this point, so what the hell. This, of course, is the same place with a sign on the wall stating, “The sandwich has been made the same way for more than 70 years, so we recommend you don’t try to change it.”

A regular asked the bar guy, almost tentatively, whether he was being kept on at the Mission location. No, he said, although he seemed no more concerned about his pending joblessness than anyone else here. In fact, he explained, he was moving to Sacramento, after winning a bidding war on a house. Apparently the tips at this place were really, really good.

Neighborhoods change. Everyone accepts that. Jordan all but promised that another Giordano Bros will appear elsewhere, and a new eatery will no doubt fill the gap left on the block soon (for all we know they’re moving in right now). Still, looking down at the last pastrami, French fry, and slaw sandwich we’d ever eat on Columbus Avenue (yes, we finally got service, and yes, it was totally worth the wait, like always), it seemed a morose sight.

Then the US team kicked one in and the whole place went insane. Because some things never change.


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