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Legendary ‘It’s Tops’ Diner Closes Forever in SF

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The ‘Its Tops’ sign, for so long seen on Market street and Octavia, has been officially removed. Here it is with it’s owner Bruce Chapman on Wednesday.  He told one of our readers that Tops is officially ‘closed’.  Photo by Emily Nahmanson.

It’s Tops Coffee Shop, commonly known for its ‘original 1935 diner atmosphere with knotty pine walls dripping with nostalgia, vinyl clad booths and counter stools, and authentic table top chrome ‘Seeburg’ jukeboxes with music from the ’50s’, removed its iconic signs on Wednesday and closed it’s Market street location, forever.

Tops hasn’t been open or served takeout since shelter in place started, but now, there doesn’t seem to be any hope for its recovery.  The only hope is for a relocation, but that is just speculation.

Bruce and Sheila Chapman (the brother and sister team who took over the diner from their dad in 1986) told one of our readers yesterday that they’re officially closed.

It’s too bad, I’ve personally enjoyed breakfast on many occasions at Top’s, Sheila was always a constant and great server, I used to get that ’49ers Touchdown’ breakfast special after a long night, and sleep like a baby.

So long Tops, you will be missed.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife (not so much nightlife anymore).

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14 Comments

  1. June 11, 2020 at 12:35 pm — Reply

    Every single year for the last 30 years on the way to a big day at pride or the Folsom street fair we would have a big wonderful breakfast with sheila as our server. It was always a perfect start to those magical weekends. I can’t believe it is gone! Like every other wonderful place that made San Francisco so special. I really miss my old city!

  2. CG
    June 11, 2020 at 1:30 pm — Reply

    This is TRAGIC.

  3. darcy
    June 11, 2020 at 1:53 pm — Reply

    I googled It’s Tops YESTERDAY to make sure they were still open! I’m heartbroken.

  4. Eric J. Wright
    June 11, 2020 at 1:54 pm — Reply

    I will miss this place. The Dick’s double cheeseburger was a staple on pay-day. Starting to wonder why I pay this much rent now…. Hmmm.

  5. murlz
    June 11, 2020 at 3:26 pm — Reply

    wait this is the worst. i love its tops. i love its tops so much im gonna make an account just to leave this comment.

  6. Drn
    June 11, 2020 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    Any reason given? Was it landlord related?

  7. Leonard Sellers
    June 11, 2020 at 4:20 pm — Reply

    Please, please, please learn the difference between “its” and “it is.” It was taught in 5th grade, again in junior high, again in high school. If you’ve figured out “your” and “you’re,” you can actually do this.

  8. Jeff
    June 11, 2020 at 6:55 pm — Reply

    I had been visiting It’s Tops since the early 80s. Lived around the corner for many years. What comfort you provided, on so many levels. Thank you, Chapman family!

  9. JoeJoe
    June 11, 2020 at 11:39 pm — Reply

    Knowing the difference between “its” and “it’s” is important, but does nothing to help with the name of this place, because it is a name. A name can be Its, It’s, Itz, or whatever it wants to be.

  10. Channin
    June 12, 2020 at 1:21 am — Reply

    Like 17 reasons why another landmark gone forever.
    Goodbye San Francisco. Hello Sales Force.

  11. June 12, 2020 at 2:06 am — Reply

    Super sad. First diner I tried in SF when I moved here in ‘94-made me feel at home before I knew what home was.

  12. Chaz
    June 12, 2020 at 4:59 am — Reply

    Emily Nahmanson’s photo actually shows a crime in progress. That historic art deco neon blade sign is protected, and removing it out of ignorance is no excuse. It’s so absolutely unique, irreplaceable and a real anchor to the city’s past. The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang traces “It’s tops” to 1935, the very year the diner opened. Hell, the neon still worked!

    I will be contacting the city’s Preservation Officer and the commissioners of the Historic Preservations Commission at the SF Planning Department to find out what has happened to the sign. At the very least it should be displayed, perhaps in a place like the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale.

    I implore the Chapmans not to destroy the sign, and for Stuart to follow up on this. If you care about the fate of the sign, please contact the Historic Preservation Commission.

  13. Jim
    June 12, 2020 at 12:30 pm — Reply

    Very sad but not surprising. Breakfast food is the least amenable to takeout and that was huge for them.

  14. Jaime
    June 12, 2020 at 1:18 pm — Reply

    So sad to see this one go. Many meals with my kids there. Will miss the liver & onions. Farewell to a bit of the old SF.

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