The Hunt's Donuts sign no longer graces the side of 2224 Mission St.

An aging sign advertising the long-shuttered Hunt’s Donuts — on the side of the building that formerly housed the Commonwealth restaurant, at 2224 Mission St. — has been painted over by the building’s new occupant. That would be Guamian restaurant Prubechu, now slated to open Dec. 3. 

“The decision was not an easy one, as we knew it was a long-lasted and beloved feature of the Mission,” said Prubechu co-owner Shawn Camacho via email. 

Camacho said that he and his business partner Shawn Naputi had been battling taggers on all parts of the building at Mission near 18th, and decided to do away with the painted sign altogether. But perhaps something new will come to the wall in time for the restaurant’s opening next month.

Our intention is to replace it with something that falls in line with the aesthetics and culture of the Mission,” Camacho said. “We’ve reached out to several local muralists and gallery owners for collaboration on the project but no details have been finalized.”

Hunt’s Donuts sign no more. Perhaps a new mural and a new phase in Mission District history. Photo by Julian Mark.

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The sign was the last remnant of what used to be a Mission District institution. 

Hunt’s Donuts, a “25-hour-a-day” donut shop that occupied the corner of 20th and Mission streets until 2004, was long known as an “epicenter of crime.” (It’s unclear when the sign was painted — and why it was painted a few buildings down from the actual donut shop.) 

“If you wanted false documents, fake IDs, stolen tools, a radio, or a watch, you would start looking at the donut shop,” former police chief and Mission Station captain Greg Suhr once said

Erika Dawn Lyle, in an essay about the donut shop, called it “a fluorescent-lit utopia for lowlifes, a north star guiding the way home for the regulars that answered the pull of the epicenter of crime and came there nightly to make up the 25th hour.” 

So it was a bit counterintuitive that a Hunt’s Donuts advertisement a few blocks down on Mission Street near 18th would become a signature aesthetic feature of Commonwealth, which served $50 plates and would become an epicenter of the city’s gentry. 

When Commonwealth was preparing to open in 2010, the sign was discovered when workers removed exterior tiles placed by a prior occupant. 

Longtime Mission dwellers may think back to 2002, when the iconic “17 Reasons Why!” sign, placed atop the former Thrift Town building at 17th and Mission Streets in 1935, was removed in favor of more modern advertisements. 

Old signs are constantly appearing and disappearing,” local historian Chris Carlsson wrote to Mission Local in an email. “It seems like a regular feature of urban life.” 

Carlsson noted that, sometimes, all we can do is sleuth around and document these reminders of the past before they disappear, adding, “I wouldn’t argue that anyone is obliged to leave old advertising signage up just because it’s there and it’s old.”  

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17 Comments

  1. “The decision was not an easy one as we knew it was a long-lasted and beloved feature of the Mission,” said Prubechu co-owner Shawn Camacho via email……but we did it anyway.

  2. Really “Epicenter of Crime”? I remember Hunt’s Donuts as my favorite donut shop, where my family would stop by after watching a double feature at El Cine Tower. La Mision means much more than the negative grabbing headlines and essays that are catered to the recent transplants.

    1. I’ve lived in the area for more than 40 years and can absolutely attest to Hunt’s notorious past.

      Just because we have fond memories of something does not negate the fact that it was a popular haunt for bad characters as well as families.

      1. Well I have lived there 55+ years,. I guess you miss the opportunity to have the good memories of La Mision!

        1. Oh, I have plenty of good memories! But they’re not bound to a single donut shop, mural, and so on.

          La Mision is my home and has been for some time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t embrace a little change and accept the fact that it’s not all sunshine and donut shops.

      1. Chief Suhr respected the majority of the residents and didn’t lump them all up as criminals. He was the Mission Station Captain, so no he was not a transplant.

  3. Bummed out to see they did this. Wish they had done a mural to side, or below, or whatever.

    It was there for 50 years and then when their dumb restaurant is gone…

    UGH I really, hate people.

    1. And in 50 years people may be complaining about the mural that was put up in late 2019 being covered. It’s how things go.

      Locking ourselves into nostalgia and obstructionism is not good for anyone, let alone the city itself.

  4. Someone at that restaurant thought that a bland baby poo yellow stripe was better than the Hunts donuts sign.

    FOH.

    A great reason to not go to this place.

  5. 30 years ago, when I lived on Guerrero and 16th and my bike got stolen by a junkie who had scaled the side of the building and paused to shush me with a finger to his lips, when he woke me as he passed by my bedroom window, the cops went straight to Hunt’s and found my bike outside and him inside.

      1. Surprised they bothered then. 30 years ago, someone broke into my apartment at 23rd & Guerrero and stole my bike (among other things) out of my bedroom. all the police did was scold me for not locking my bike to my bed.

    1. Oops. Our office is at 21st and Mission, and we can count. Sometimes you just punch in the wrong numbers.

      As noted elsewhere, we appreciate your comments. Your condescension is not necessary.

      Best,
      JE

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