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.”
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.”