It seems that our favorite modern Cali-Korean spot, Namu Stonepot has shuttered their Divisadero location for good. 😥
The sad announcement came through Namu's Instagram on June 6th.
The first of the small group of restaurants opened in the Richmond District back in 2006, before moving to its anchor location in the Mission. In 2019, Lee and his brothers David and Daniel, who are all partners in the business, announced plans to move Namu Gaji to the old Perennial space at Ninth and Market streets. The pandemic put an end to that and any plans to reopen.
"We're so appreciative of the supportive community we've been able to be a part of the past few years," Lee writes. "Our timing has been cut short of the four-year mark, but so much has happened in our time with being able to feed our community through food and conversation. We look forward to the new exciting changes that are in store, and we hope you'll continue to follow us along our journey with the Namu Family!"
Namu Stonepot was a spinoff of Namu Gaji, which itself was a spinoff by Lee and his brothers from their original Richmond restaurant Namu, that opened over a decade ago and put Korean tacos on the map in SF. A signature dish of stonepot rice became the basis for the fast-casual concept, and as the SF scene has evolved to embrace more of these quick-service restaurants, Namu Gaji ceased to be a more formal sit-down affair before the pandemic.
That project is still in the works, but it's evolved into more of a food hall that combines both Namu Stonepot's food, and a new fusion-y pizza concept that was born during the pandemic. As Eater reported in December, Sunset Squares began as a sort of delightful mystery, based entirely on Instagram with DM'd orders and payments on Venmo, with focaccias, deconstructed salads, and delicious Detroit-style pizzas with toppings like ma po tofu, bulgogi, and kimchi. Lee initially refused to identify himself as the talent behind it all, but then Sunset Squares launched on Tock and DoorDash, and he had to come clean.
The 9th Street space, the name of which has not been announced, will be a combo of Namu Stonepot and Sunset Squares, along with Filipino pop-up Uncle Tito, and plenty of local beers on tap. The team wants it to have a beer-hall / street food vibe, and it was said to be "weeks" away from opening in late April.
As Dennis Lee told the Chronicle in April, "It’s always fun when people can go somewhere where you can have inexpensive beer and wine and order off multiple menus, almost like a street food truck [market]." And, he added, regarding the demise of Namu Gaji, "Operating a full-service restaurant is extremely challenging as is. With all of the delays and new challenges brought on during the first two shelter-in-place orders and uncertainty of the coming year, we had to make the difficult decision to end that business."
Lee also says that he's ultimately planning to open more Sunset Squares "slice shops" at other locations around the city.
We're sad that for now, there will be no more sizzling stonepots, grubby Mochiko Chicken, or mindblowing Kimchi fries available to us on Divis. But not all hope is lost friends! If you happen to find yourself in the midst of a Namu craving, you can still score some delicious Namu food at their stands located at the wildly popular Sunset Mercantile, and Clement Farmer's Market as well as their primary Namu Stonepot that remains open for takeout, dine-in, and delivery in the former Namu Gaji space catty-corner from Dolores Park on 18th Street,. And the team has a new restaurant/beer hall on the way any day now in SoMa.
As always, we remain confident and optimistic that a new delicious local food offering will eventually grace the old Namu space along our merchant corridor.
Thank you for the delicious memories team Namu, we'll see you around town.
Source: Namu stonepot Instagram, Hoodline June 9th 2021