It’s been more than three years since the one remaining Lori's Diner has served its all-day breakfast and club sandwiches, but the retro tourist trap reopened this week, and yes there is still a 1959 Ford Edsel in the dining room.
You may not have even noticed that Union Square’s vintage throwback eatery Lori’s Diner at Sutter and Powell Streets has been closed for the entirety of the pandemic thus far, considering that local San Francisco residents are not exactly the diner’s target demographic. And the location was gutted and had its signage removed in late 2020, so it sure looked like a permanent COVID casualty.
But the tourist-friendly Elvis- and Marilyn Monroe-themed memorabilia is back out on display, and the all-day breakfast is being served again, as KPIX reports that Lori’s Diner has reopened after its more than three-year closure.
“We believe in Union Square,” Lori’s Diner representative Francisco Padilla told KPIX. “We knew that we had to invest. Without the tourists, there is no restaurants, and without the restaurants there is no tourists. So they go hand in hand. We knew that we had to make the first move if we wanted this beautiful city to come back to life. So we made the sacrifice and investment to rehabilitate this location.”
Pretty much everything you remember about the Lori’s Diner interior has been restored — the 1959 Ford Edsel is still in the dining room, and the vintage radios and jukebox are still there. KPIX did not mention exactly what day Lori’s Diner reopened, but as seen in the tweet below, someone was enjoying a big ol’ omelet there in a tweet dated May 31.
The first Lori’s Diner opened in 1986 at 336 Mason (at Geary Street), though that location closed in 2016. The local mini-chain grew like mad in the 1990s and 2000s, adding another location at 149 Powell (at O'Farrell Street) in 1995, a Ghirardelli Square location in 2000, and an SFO outpost in 2008. They refer to the Sutter and Powell Street location as the “flagship” Lori’s Diner, which is a diplomatic way of saying it’s the only one that’s still open. That location originally opened in 1993.
HAPPENING TODAY: A popular #SanFrancisco restaurant chain is reopening one of its businesses.— Allison Weeks (@allisoncweeks) June 1, 2023
Lori's Diner in #UnionSquare is making a comeback after being shut down at the start of the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/FC5uX95PvX
It’s unclear if Lori’s Diner is still affiliated with the nearby Union Square tourist magnet Sears Fine Food, as then-Lori’s Diner owner Man Kim bought Sears Fine Food in 2004. And the newly reopened Lori's Diner is no longer a 24-hour operation as it used to be. (Their hours are 7 a.m.-10 p.m.) But with San Francisco tourism rebounding quite nicely, it’s great for that visible Union Square location to not be a gutted eyesore, and once again be a tourists’ milquetoast all-day breakfast destination.
Image: ゆみ U. via Yelp