Sears Fine Food: Closed Monday 29 December 2003

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Sears Fine Food: Closed Monday 29 December 2003

Monday 29 December 2003

It's a rather cold an rainy day, here in San Francisco. So why am I trudging through the driving rain, heading north from Union Square?

standing in line

It's the last day of operation for a local landmark restaurant, Sears Fine Food. Known for their silver-dollar-sized Swedish pancakes, belowed for generations, it all comes to a crashing halt today.

the last bill We found out about it last week, and scribbled a note to ourselves on the calender to not miss the closing. (Note to you, dear reader: we have a tradition of welcoming new restaurants by visiting them on their opening day. This is the sad mirror of that ritual.)

Sears Fine Food logo Sears was founded in 1938 by Hilbur and Ben Sears. Ben Sears was a retired circus clown who, over the years, built a reputation for serving Swedish pancakes made from a recipe inherited from his wife's family. By the early 50s Sears was purchased by Mrs. Quita Benner; she left the name and the menu intact and continued with the tradition already established by the Sears.

The original location for Sears Fine Food was on the 500 block of Powell Street. It then seated about 70 people at 16 tables. Sears was celebrated for the novelty of its Cadillac waiting room: the owners would park two pink Cadillacs in front with the heaters and radios on to shelter the waiting crowds.

Over the years the popularity of Sears Fine Food continued to increase and Mrs. Benner, with the help of her son-in-law Al Boyajian, knew that they would have to find a larger building to accommodate all of their customers. In 1964 Al Boyajian convinced his in-laws to purchase the building at 439 Powell Street, about a half block down from the original location.

Al and his son, Lee, worked to maintain the standard of the prior years. Closing the restaurant today was Lee, his wife Joanie, and their eight-year-old daugter (wearing the restaurant's plum-colored uniform jacket).

the last crowd

Here's the restaurant's web site, as of today, shown displaying that plum color of which I spoke:

Dear Loyal Customers

Regrettably, after 65 years of serving the best breakfast and lunch to our loyal customers, we are forced to close our world famous restaurant, effective December 29, 2003.

Many factors have led us to this unfortunate conclusion. The devastating blow we all felt after the 9-11 attacks and the subsequent slowdown in tourism to our beautiful city, the lagging economy, and increased operating cost have all been too much for us to bear.

Although our family cannot continue on, we are actively searching for a suitable restaurateur to continue our fine tradition. We are hopeful and encouraged that we will find a qualified restaurateur very soon.

It is our greatest hope and desire that our customers can return some day in the near future to continue the tradition like so many generations in the past.

Until then, it has been an extreme pleasure to serve you, and may God bless you and your family.


Lee and Joannie Boyajian

(Please let us know your: name, address and e-mail address, so that we can contact you if we are able to reopen, or if we sell our products online. E-mail us at

Shortly after posting this page, and asking the owners to tell me if I'd made any mistakes, I got this email:

Date: Wed, 31 Dec 2003 16:37:09 -0800

Mr. Sattler --

I'm Sears' webmaster. We've gotten HUNDREDS of emails over the last few days, but I wanted to pull yours out and send it on to the owners.

Your web page is touching.

If the restaurant is able to open again, or products are available online, I'll send you an email.

Hey, thanks! I appreciate the feedback. The restaurant deserves more than a page of rememberance, but what's a stay-at-home parent to do?

Have you found errors nontrivial or marginal, factual, analytical and illogical, arithmetical, temporal, or even typographical? Please let me know; drop me email. Thanks!

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