Press "Enter" to skip to content

San Francisco's Catch restaurant closes after 22 years in the Castro

A beloved restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro District served its final dinner on Saturday. At 2362 Market Street, people lined up for the last night at Catch, a seafood restaurant and bar that’s been there for 22 years.

Owner Sanjay Gujral said that since they made the announcement about the closure, “we literally have been sold out every single night for the last two weeks.”

Gujral said he made the tough decision that it was time to retire. He has worked in the hospitality industry for nearly 45 years.

“So, it’s just time to hang up my spatula, as they say,” he said.

At the restaurant on Saturday, old coworkers reunited for hugs, and regulars toasted with martinis and seafood stew.

“I’m gonna miss this place, I don’t know what to do,” said San Francisco resident Beckie Farrar who showed up to enjoy the restaurant on its last night.

“The food here is great, I’m gonna miss everybody’s here,” Farrar continued. “I’ve met a lot of personalities who I’m gonna remember forever.”

Nicholas Joseph LaRocca, whose company supplies seafood for Catch, noted that the restaurant has a lot to celebrate.

“22 years is a long life, you have to be doing something right – a lot of things right — to sustain that,” LaRocca pointed out.

San Francisco Eric McCormick went to eat at Catch with friends on Saturday night.

“We wanted to come and support them and enjoy a last meal with them because we certainly enjoyed having them in our neighborhood for so long,” McCormick said.

The building that houses the restaurant has been in the neighborhood for a long time too.

In the early 1900s, Gujral says the building was a silent movie theater.

“It was called the Jose Theater for Jose Castro,” Gujral noted.

Behind the marquee sign for Catch, you can see a sliver of an old Kodak sign. Gujral says he has preserved that intentionally, as it is a remnant of Harvey Milk’s camera shop which was once located in that spot for a few months.

In the 1980s, this spot was where the NAMES Project began, starting the AIDS Memorial Quilt. According to city documents, in June of 1987, gay community activist Cleve Jones met with a small group at the building to formally begin the NAMES Project and create a memorial for all those who had died of AIDS.

“This entire space was the sewing floor where the quilt was actually made,” Gujral said, pointing around the front of the restaurant.

Gujral, who says many of his colleagues in the hospitality industry in the 80s died of AIDS, helped to bring a panel of the quilt back to hang in the restaurant to honor the history of the location.

“And that’s part of what I’m the most proud of, that I was able to maintain and continue the legacy of the physical space,” he said.

A plaque outside the building that housed Catch restaurant commemorates the building’s history as the origin site for the NAMES Project and the AIDS Memorial Quilt. NBC Bay Area Photo/Alyssa Goard.

Gujral says he doesn’t know what the building will be used for next, but he is hoping that the next occupant also helps to celebrate and preserve the building’s history.

As bartenders shook up the last round of drinks, regulars traded memories. Customers told NBC Bay Area that they would love to see another restaurant move into the space and foster community in this part of the Castro.

As Gujral heads into retirement, he is feeling gratitude for his staff members and his patrons.

“For 22 years I’ve had the most amazing staff work here with me, how do you replace that?” he marveled.

Catch restaurant in San Francisco closed its doors on March 9, 2024 after 22 years in San Francisco. NBC Bay Area Photo/ Alyssa Goard.

Source: NBC Bay Area

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *