Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Food & Drinks
Published on October 13, 2021
West Portal to get new sit-down Mexican restaurant from Original Joe's teamPhoto: Loopnet

The Duggan family, who own two Original Joe's locations in San Francisco and Daly City and Little Original Joe's (393 West Portal Ave.), which opened late last year in West Portal, are preparing to open another restaurant in their home neighborhood — but this time it will be Mexican-American food, instead of Italian-American.

Original Joe's grew out of a downtown lunch counter first opened by John and Elena Duggan's Croatian-born grandfather, Tony Rodin, in 1937. The Taylor Street location eventually expanded to full dinner service and booths, and it was a beloved SF institution near the Golden Gate Theater until it was lost to a fire in 2007. Rather than try to rebuild there, and as their parents were retiring from the business, the Duggans decided to reopen in North Beach instead, bringing Original Joe's to the corner of Union and Stockton in 2012 — in what was formerly Joe DiMaggio's.

In December 2020, the Duggans opened Little Original Joe's. Originally intended to be a sit-down restaurant with takeout, featuring a truncated menu of Original Joe's favorites along with pizza, the pandemic forced them to pivot into all takeout and delivery, with the addition of an Italian grocery that also offers frozen and ready-made meals, ravioli, pasta sauce, and more.

Now, as they revealed to the Chronicle this week, they're expanding once more, both with a new Mexican concept, called Elena's, and with a full-service version of Little Original Joe's over in the Marina (2301 Chestnut Street at Scott).

Elena Duggan says that her two eldest daughters, whose father is Mexican, have been begging her to open a Mexican restaurant for years. And in addition to serving tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, and other Mexican-American favorites, the plan is to serve ceviches and fish dishes from their father's family's hometown of San Bartolo Morelos, outside of Mexico City. Elena's plans to be open by late next year, after the retail space they're taking over gets built out as a restaurant.

The full-service Little Original Joe's on Chestnut will also offer takeout and delivery pasta, pizza, and chicken parm, but it will have indoor and outdoor seating as well, along with a bar. It will also open late next year, if all goes well.

As for Little Original Joe's in West Portal, that's going to remain a counter-service operation, with just a couple of tables outside for self-service, and the grocery stuff stays as well.