Express store, storied Italian restaurant leaving San Francisco

The Express store is leaving San Francisco's Union Square, as is the North Beach Restaurant a little more than a mile away.

At the same time, Banana Republic has reopened in a new, smaller location in Union Square, and the Westin St. Francis will be celebrating its 120th anniversary next spring.

Business prospects in San Francisco are a study in contrasts.

"[I'm] sad because too many stores are closing. That is the problem," Daniel Gil said Wednesday after spending $140 at the Express at Geary and Powell, taking advantage of closeout sales with up to 90% off store merchandise. 

The business is closing Oct. 22, according to a sign inside that reads, "It's not goodbye" and encouraging shoppers to visit its store at the Stonestown Galleria.

"I know the rents became very, very high for the stores, also for houses, the pandemic don't help," Gil said.

"There aren't any other locations like this on the square, so it's a great piece of real estate," said Kelly Lukens, senior marketing manager for the Westin St. Francis on the Express' corner spot. "One store closing, obviously we're sad to see them go, but I think they'll quickly be replaced, and it's not going to be an overall impact to our customers coming to stay with us."

On Wednesday, Banana Republic announced it's moved to a new spot on Geary Street on Union Square, around the corner from its previous location.

North Beach Restaurant at Stockton and Columbus will close for good after New Year's Eve. 

"It's time. It was a fantastic run. I'm sad to see it go. I've met incredible people," said Leo Petroni, whose late father, Lorenzo Petroni helped open the famed Tuscan eatery five decades ago. 

"It's time for a new generation of restaurateurs to come in, to an area, North Beach, which is having a resurgence," he said.

Daniel Macchiarini, treasurer of the North Beach Business Association said, "Anytime we lose a business, it's not good…I have to balance that against again the new businesses that are opening and the vitality of North Beach."

Henry Lee is a KTVU reporter. E-mail Henry at and follow him on Twitter @henrykleeKTVU and