A major piece of San Francisco restaurant real estate will be back in play again this year, as upscale vegan Italian spot Baia is closing its doors at the end of the month.

Baia, the first San Francisco outpost of LA-based vegan chef Matthew Kenney's empire, debuted in August 2020 in the former Jardiniere space in Hayes Valley, and held on through pandemic-related restrictions and shutdowns. But as of March 30, it will close its doors.

"After 3.5 wonderful years, it is with a heavy heart that we announce the closing of BAIA," the team announced on Instagram over the weekend. "From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your unwavering support over the years. It has been an honor serving you."

The news is no doubt disappointing to the vegans in town, who certainly have more options these days than they did a decade ago, but this was one of the classier ones.

We don't know if the restaurant's own finances are to blame for the closure, or if there were extenuating circumstances. As we learned four years ago, the restaurant's main investors were Tracy Vogt and her husband, self-driving car entrepreneur Kyle Vogt — the same Kyle Vogt who resigned as CEO of Cruise in November after a series of collisions and bad robotaxi behavior gave the company a pretty bad name in the media. (Vogt had also, embarrassingly in hindsight, said publicly that San Francisco "should be rolling out the red carpet" for his company and other autonomous vehicle companies just two months earlier, after some public pushback.)

Baia enjoyed a fairly solid four stars on Yelp, though some recent reviewers suggested the quality may have been slipping. The restaurant was never reviewed by the Chronicle, and I only ever had cocktails at the bar because it was kind of pricey.

The space at Grove and Franklin streets, which was long ago home to a jazz club, spent over two decades as the home of chef Traci Des Jardins's flagship Jardiniere. It was a go-to spot through much of that time for the symphony-, opera-, and ballet-going set, given that it is walking distance from those Civic Center venues.

The Art Deco-inspired, horseshoe-shaped bar on the main level remains one of the prettier places in town for a drink, and hopefully the space won't stay dark for long. With such a built-in audience of well-heeled folks who need a place to eat whenever their subscription tickets come up, it's a prime location.

The last turnover took barely a month, with Jardiniere closing in April 2019, and Baia snapping up the space by May 2019.