The Mission's beloved, 104-year-old diner St. Francis Fountain is on the market and its owners for the last two decades are hoping to find someone to take over the business without having to close in between.
The business at 2801 24th Street, which originally opened as a candy shop and soda fountain in 1918, is up for grabs for $350,000, as the SF Business Times reports. Owners Levon Kazarian and Peter Hood, who have run the place for the last 20 years, tell SFGate that they're ready to move on — Kazarian to another restaurant business he operates down in Joshua Tree, and Hood to retire.
"We just don’t feel good about not being able to give [the restaurant] that level of attention [that it needs]," Kazarian told SFGate. "We want someone who can be there every day getting to know the customers and taking it to the next level."
Kazarian said they hope a new owner will revive the soda fountain aspect of the place, which died off with the pandemic, and bring back the peanut brittle that was a signature item at St. Francis Fountain for many decades.
Real estate agent Patrick Totah tells the SF Business Times that both the landlord and the current owners are adamant that any buyer will not be seeking to change things up too much.
"Any other spot in the Mission I could see someone buying the business and flipping it to their own concept," Totah tells the Business Times. "The sellers' and the landlord's intentions here are to continue the current operation, that's the kind of buyer we're looking for."
The restaurant received Legacy Business status from the city in 2016, which provides for grants to owner and landlord and an incentive for long-term leases.
SF native and longtime fan of the diner Nico Madrigal-Yankowski did a history piece on St. Francis Fountain for SFGate in July. In it, he noted that the plans for creating the 49ers franchise were hatched in a booth at the diner by the Morabito Brothers, and an unnamed, long-ago SF mayor apparently used to have lunches there with his mistress, far the prying eyes of the City Hall press.
The business was started in 1918 by Greek immigrants the Christakes family, and generations of Christakes ran it for over 80 years, only selling to Kazarian and Hood in 2002. The candymaking equipment was sold by a new building owner in 2000, and homemade ice cream that had been made there for decades also went by the wayside. But the place has retained its nostalgic charm, even as its menu and offerings have changed.
"It’s been there for 100 years, maybe it will be there for another hundred years, long after we’re gone,” Kazarian told SFGate in the history piece. “I love the place with all my heart and soul."