Union Square restaurants close to dismay of customers, employees

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The closing of restaurants in Union Square may be a sign of change in the dynamic business district. Some welcome the change while others aren't ready to let go of what's familiar.

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Lori's Diner has been bustling with tourists and locals for 32 years. The 50s themed diner hasn't gone out of style.

Marta Delfino has worked there for 25 years. Jan. 2 will be her final shift at her current location.

Owner Man Kim says employees will work at his other location on Sutter Street for the time being. "New landlord has to renovate the building," he said. "We have no choice but to move out."

By the summer of 2017 he expects to open a new Lori's Diner near the one closing.

Signs thanking customers for decades of dedicated patronage are popping up all around Union Square.

Another restaurant, Sushi Boat, is closing after 31 years.

"It's a balance. We want to keep the old and keep the character of the district, but obviously bring in the new," said Director of Union Square Business Improvement District Karin Flood.

An upscale stakehouse with al fresco rooftop dining will open where Sushi Boat and Lori's Diner are closing. Not everyone is thrilled.

"I'm not fond of that because I think we need places like this," said Delfino. "You know the high end or upscale, it doesn't work for everybody."

"It's just East to come to a diner," said Lori's Diner employee Stacey Greenblatt. "There's a variety of foods and everyone can find something they like."

Employees at the diner were told a year and a half ago.

A Public Relations spokesperson for Kuleto's says employees were given 30 days notice and are receiving an extra lump sum month's payment of wages and benefits.

The spokesperson couldn't say whether a new restaurant will open in Kuleto's place.
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