Brunch hot spot Aina, which opened in Dogpatch in 2016 after gaining a following as a pop-up, has shuttered for good. Chef-owner Jordan Keao and co-owner and wife Cheryl Liew made the announcement on Instagram Tuesday, citing family reasons for needing to move out of the country.
The restaurant closed temporarily back in December, but now, Liew writes, "Personal and family reasons have made a relocation to Singapore the next step for us." Liew adds, "It is a very tough and heart-wrenching decision to let go of a business that we have been building from our hearts since 2013, from our days as a tiny popup in Bernal Heights, to hectic street food festivals and then eventually a beautiful brick and mortar space in the lovely Dogpatch neighborhood."
Eater explains that the original closure happened when a family emergency in Singapore coincided with the departure of chef de cuisine Chris Yang.
View this post on Instagram
Aloha. It’s been a while since we posted. We are sad to let you all know that we have decided to permanently close ‘Aina restaurant in San Francisco. Personal & family reasons have made a relocation to Singapore the next step for us. It is a very tough and heartwrenching decision to let go of a business that we have been building from our hearts since 2013, from our days as a tiny popup in Bernal Heights, to hectic street food festivals and then eventually a beautiful brick and mortar space in the lovely Dogpatch neighborhood. Aina was a very beautiful and special place for us with our toddler son spending his weekends at our Popup, and our daughter born a month after we opened the restaurant. We also believe that change is growth. And as much as we hate disappointing our regulars and all of you who have come through our doors to eat with us, become friends, and sent us such heartwarming messages in the last 6 months; we also know we are making the right decision for our extended family and our little ones. We will miss Dogpatch dearly and are grateful to all of the support we have received over the years and to the team that worked so tirelessly. We won’t go into the well known challenges of doing business in SF here; we will say that running a small restaurant is HARD with lots of highs and many lows and we made a lot of mistakes along the way.. We’ll still post here selectively on ways to support Hawaiian food and heritage and small businesses. Follow Hilo-raised chef @jordankeao for continued culinary adventures in Southeast Asia and possibly Aina 2.0. 🌺🙏 and our Stories... Much love, Jordan & Cheryl @cherylliew13
Aina opened in early 2016 to some immediate crowds and fanfare, given how passionately this town loves a brunch. Chef Keao's malasadas, kalua pork belly, spam musubi and taro French toast were immediate hits, and the restaurant eventually expanded with full dinner service.
The focus was always on modern Hawaiian food, including things like charred octopus "luau" and North Shore street corn with umami mayo.
Liew and Keao say they hope to open Aina 2.0 in Singapore, but that is slim consolation for their fans here in SF.
As Tablehopper writes, "SF was lucky to have you. Mahalo."
Meanwhile, their space at 900 22nd Street at Minnesota is now up for grabs.