Beloved Mission diner and ice cream parlor St. Francis Fountain has just reopened its counter for dining after 21 months of keeping it empty out of pandemic caution.

The cozy little retro diner at 24th Street and York — one of the last of its kind anywhere in San Francisco — had been serving outdoors in its parklet since last year, and at the few booths it has indoors. But as of this week, the fourteen-seat counter is back open for business, which about doubles the restaurant's capacity indoors.

Vintage photo courtesy of St. Francis Fountain

Billing itself as the city's oldest diner, St. Francis Fountain opened in 1918 under the ownership of Greek immigrant James Christakes, originally as a luncheonette and candy store. The current counter and other diner-y elements came along in 1947, under the next generation of ownership. Current owners Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian bought the place in 2002, and they've changed little about it except the menu. As the Chronicle recounted several years back, Hood and Kazarian also own longtime Mission brunch staple Boogaloos, and they brought over some dishes from the Boogaloos menu like vegan items and the Nebulous Potato Thing — a version of Boogaloos' famed vegetarian breakfast creation, the Temple O' Spuds, featuring hash browns topped like nachos with cheese, salsa, and sour cream, and then topped with an egg.

Though there aren't any old-fashioned soda drinks on offer besides a root beer float, they do make a mean milkshake, using ice cream from Mitchell's.

They also had a little note of protest on a recent menu, tucked into the burger section: the Zucker-Berger, which is a "Marinated in greed, char-broiled P.O.S. [piece of shit], served with malignant intent & zero-moral-accountability aioli." The price: "Your Privacy & Democracy."

Hood and Kazarian threatened to close St. Francis Fountain back in 2016 due to rising rents, but then they didn't, and the place muddle through the pandemic doing takeout and parklet service.

But what's a soda fountain without its counter?

"Closed for safety during these crazy COVID times, we’re finally able to accommodate our counter space to you to satisfy that quick pop in for a meal craving!" the restaurant announced on Instagram Tuesday. "Stop in today and get that classic up front St. Francis Fountain VIP treatment!"

St. Francis Fountain is only open for brunch hours Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and on weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Eventually, maybe, dinner service might come back.

St. Francis Fountain - 2801 24th Street at York