Popular Castro seafood restaurant Anchor Oyster Bar (579 Castro Street) will temporarily close on Tuesday as it undergoes a long overdue mandatory soft-story retrofit.
Monday was your last chance to get one last bowl of Anchor Oyster Bar's famous cioppino and seafood before the restaurant closes for six weeks for construction.
Open since 1977, Anchor Oyster Bar has been owned by Roseann Grimm since its opening 47 years ago. The restaurant was added to San Francisco's Legacy Business registry in 2016, and has held Michelin Bib Gourmand status since 2014 — with Michelin inspectors calling the cioppino "unmissable."
The four-story residential building with the ground-floor restaurant will undergo construction work to comply with the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection's (SFDBI) Mandatory Soft-Story Retrofit Program.
Inside Anchor Oyster Bar at 579 Castro St. | Photo: Jeonghyun Choi/Instagram
The program was created by the late Mayor Ed Lee and the City's Earthquake Safety Implementation Program (ESIP) in 2013. SFDBI's website explains: "ESIP is a thirty-year, fifty-task plan to both reduce impacts to the city from earthquakes and increase the city’s overall resilience."
The ordinance requires retrofits of wood-frame buildings built prior to 1978 that are three or more stories, two stories over a basement or underfloor area, or containing five or more residential units.
The deadline to complete the retrofit on Tier III structures was September 15, 2018. According to Omran, DBI began enforcement on all non-compliant properties after the deadline.
"We prioritized enforcement by first focusing on addresses that were completely non-compliant," explained Omran. Those properties included ones that had not submitted a report or obtained permits. That was then followed up with partially compliant addresses including 577-579 Castro which had obtained a permit in 2017.
According to SF DBI spokesperson Kelley Omran, the property owner at 577-579 Castro St. was issued a Notice of Violation in August 2022 for not completing the retrofit. The property owner was given another 30 days to complete the work.
Omran stated that the property owner missed that deadline which resulted in a Director's Hearing in February 2023.
The mixed-use residential building at 577-579 Castro St. will undergo a mandatory soft-story retrofit. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline
"The property was granted an additional six months to complete the work and provided updates to our department until this past October," explained Omran. "As we have not received an update in several months, a new Director’s Hearing has been scheduled for January 31, 2024."
"If they still have not completed the work by that date, an Order of Abatement will be issued that will result in fees and a lien against the title of the property," added Omran. "The fees will also be added to their property tax bill."
Public records indicate permits for the retrofit work were issued in December. Total construction costs are estimated at $358,969 - $303,000 for the residential component and $55,969 for the restaurant.
Anchor Oyster Bar's popular cioppino. | Photo: Taro/Instagram
When asked if the property would still receive fines despite being issued a permit for the work Omran said, "At the Director's Hearing, if the owner is able to demonstrate progress is being made, we may issue a continuance. Otherwise, we will likely issue an Order of Abatement."
On a recent visit by a Hoodline reporter,
an Anchor employee explained that along with the seismic retrofit, construction will include lowering the bar seating to comply with the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) and reconfiguring the kitchen.
Update 1/11: After publication, Anchor manager Maryanne Kenney informed Hoodline that there will be no changes made to the restaurant's interior.
"Our 6-week closure is strictly for the seismic retrofit and there will be zero changes to the interior of the restaurant," said Kenney.
In recent years, a handful of Castro businesses have temporarily closed for a soft story retrofit including restaurant Fable, adult gift store Does Your Mother Know, and Vietnamese restaurant Castro Tarts.