SF Eats: Velvet Cantina, Indian Paradox close permanently; Old Jerusalem severely damaged in fire

Photo: Travis C./Yelp
By Alisa Scerrato - Published on July 09, 2020.

Here's the latest in SF food news. In this edition, a popular Mission Mexican restaurant in the Mission closes for good; a Mission Middle Eastern standby sustains fire damage; and a Divisadero Indian spot says goodbye.



Velvet Cantina (3349 23rd St.)

Photo: Velvet Cantina/Facebook

Sad news for fans of Velvet Cantina — the popular Mexican Mission restaurant, known for its margaritas and chile con queso, is shutting down after 14 years. The closure announcement was posted on its Facebook page

Eater SF notes that owner Matt Tognazzini launched a GoFundMe at the beginning of the shelter-in-place, hoping to raise $5,000, but netted less than half that amount. After two months of closure, it reopened in May as a bottle shop, but didn't sell takeout. 

With Velvet's lease already up for renewal, and the ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, Tognazzini decided to throw in the towel. 

"Given the health risks to both staff and customers, and the financial uncertainty of running a restaurant in the age of coronavirus, it doesn’t make sense to continue operations," he wrote on Facebook. 

"From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all the crew members who have made Velvet Cantina such a magical place ... It’s been such a pleasure to get to know our regulars and be a part of the fabric of the Mission District."

Old Jerusalem (2966 Mission St.)

Photo: Old Jerusalem/Yelp

There's still more bad news for another Mission stalwart — 15-year-old Middle Eastern restaurant Old Jerusalem. Over the holiday weekend, it was seriously damaged in a two-alarm fire, which also displaced 15 residents from an adjacent apartment building. The blaze was caused by illegal fireworks. 

“We got some damage, especially a lot of water from the firefighters’ hoses, so we are going to be closed for a while," co-owner Hajem Almujdad told Mission Local

The news is especially rough because Old Jerusalem had already moved recently, reopening three doors down from its original location when it was displaced by a redevelopment project. 

The restaurant has launched a Gofundme to support its employees during what will likely be a months-long closure. As of this writing, it's raised about $9,000 of its $40,000 goal. 

"We are determined to get back to business and see all of our beautiful customers once we can confirm a safe environment," the owners write. "Thank you all for your endless support and love, it does not go unnoticed."


Indian Paradox (258 Divisadero St.)

Photo: Indian Paradox/Yelp

Tablehopper broke the news that Divisadero Indian restaurant and wine bar Indian Paradox will not reopen after closing its doors for the shelter-in-place.

Owner Kavitha Raghavan said that her tiny space (only about 500 square feet) would have made socially distancing diners impossible. As a result, she had to make the difficult decision to close for good.

The business opened in March 2016, serving Indian small plates paired with wine. It was the first restaurant project for Raghavan, a former engineer who became a certified sommelier before opening the restaurant. We'll keep you posted on what's next for her, and for the space. 

If you've seen something new (or closing) in the neighborhood, text your tips and photos to (415) 200-3233, or email [email protected] If we use your info in a story, we'll give you credit

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