Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Food & Drinks
Published on March 14, 2016
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen To Close Its Mission LocationThe Mission location of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen. (Photo: Melissa Loesgen)

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is closing its Mission location (2400 Harrison St.) at the end of April, but don't worry—it's not a bad omen for the company. Its other two restaurants, the original location at 1 South Park Ave. in SoMa and the newly opened location at 799 Battery St. in the FiDi, won't be going anywhere.

 "We sold the restaurant to a really great operator," said co-founder Nate Pollak, who started the local mini-chain with his wife, chef and national grilled cheese champion Heidi Gibson, in an email. "[We] will focus on our downtown locations and downtown growth."

"We were doing well," he added. But with his lease coming up in a year, "the offer was too good to pass up."

Photo: The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen/Facebook

We initially learned of the changeover from an application for a new beer and wine license at the location under the name Kuniha, LLC. The company's managers are listed as Kuniki Hayashi and Masaki Sasaki.

Today, Pollak published an article on Huffington Post, "I Sold My Restaurant," in which he gives more details. In the heartfelt letter to his customers explaining his decision to close, he reveals Kuniha will be a "truly unique Edomae sushi experience."

Nate Pollak at the Battery location. (Photo: Geri Koeppel/Hoodline)

"As a restaurateur, I have learned that the model at our South Park location is a much more scalable model and the type of restaurant I want to operate," Pollak writes. "Though successful by many means, the business case was not compelling enough, and the profitability not as attractive as that of our first store, and to date, our third store ... The Mission store model didn't fit our larger plans, and I had to reconsider."

The Mission store was also heavily reliant on online delivery services. "If you don't have a delivery partner, you're giving up easy money," Pollak writes. The downside: "Too much of the customer experience that I and my staff hold so dear—that we spend hours pontificating about, training, and perfecting—is literally transferred into someone else's hands."

As for the current staff at the Mission location, "we are doing our best to ensure they continue to be employed at our other stores, and we can continue to offer them our above-average industry wages, benefits, and standards." Pollak also mentions that he and Gibson live in the neighborhood and enjoy rock climbing at Mission Cliffs three to five days a week, so they'll still be around.