“Sorry sir, Delano’s is closed.”
“For good?” the customer asked, perplexed.
“Yes, it is closed. Yesterday was the last day,” said the security guard, Michael Bush, with the familiarity of a man who has been saying the same thing all day.
After months of speculation, Delano’s IGA has officially shut its doors on South Van Ness — though you wouldn’t know it from all the people wandering up to the door and pulling into the parking lot. It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t anything to sell; inside the store, the merchandise still sat on the shelves.
But it was over. An inventory company was on its way to pick up every last box of Lucky Charms, along with all the refrigerators and and other equipment.
The closure comes after months of speculation. Three stores in Marin and two others in San Francisco have also closed, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
“People are not happy about this,” Bush said. “I understand how they feel. In my neighborhood in Oakland, we didn’t have a grocery store. It’s hard.”
Well, not quite. The Mission isn’t exactly a food desert. Both Mission and 24th Street, a few blocks away, are lined with small produce stands and groceries. Most bewildered customers simply turned around and headed to Foods Co. on 14th and Folsom or the Safeway on 30th and Mission.
But Delano’s had a magic to it — both the weird magic of any 24-hour establishment and its own strange way of disappearing, Brigadoon-like, by going completely unnoticed until the moment you needed cereal and a carton of milk. The building itself was a rare untouched relic of the aspirationally suburban, car-friendly San Francisco whose golden era peaked in the 1960s and officially ended when the Loma Prieta earthquake brought down the Embarcadero Freeway.
That said, of those turned away at the door by Monroe, it was the pedestrians who were the most upset.
“Wrong, wrong, wrong,” said Bob Lewis, a resident of the area since 1987. One of the reasons he moved to his current place at 22nd and Van Ness was the presence of a 24-hour supermarket close by.
“I don’t want to have to take the bus all the way to Safeway,” Lewis said. “I can imagine it would be harder for people with slow mobility, like seniors, to go to Safeway,” said Erick Lyle, another customer who stopped by on foot.
Convenience was also one of the main reasons Ted Monroe went to Delano’s. He has lived down the street from the store for 20 years, and knows everyone there by name. Even he hadn’t known that yesterday was the last day.
“They were really nice,” he said of the staff. “It’s terrible that they lost their jobs.”
“I worked here,” said a man who walked up to the store. He pulled out a Delano’s name tag with the name Guillermo Vasquez on it. He looked sad. Now is not the time to be looking for work. When he saw Monroe, though, the two of them fell into a hug. RIP, Delano’s. It was the end of an era.