LandmarkHunters Point restaurant to close doors 

A restaurant and cultural landmark in Hunters Point Shipyard that has been serving customers since the 1930s will close its doors this afternoon.

Dago Mary’s, the homey restaurant and bar at the shipyard entrance, is being demolished to make way for homes, parks and retail space.

This week, customers made a point to visit the restaurant.

"Old San Francisco is dying," Nancy Deane said as she had lunch at the restaurant. "It’s a lovely place and it should be kept."

The land surrounding Dago Mary’s will be filled by 1,500 new homes, of which 30 percent will be reserved for low- to moderate-income households, 100 acres of open space, and education, training and cultural facilities.

It was not feasible to preserve the decades-old restaurant, said Michael Cohen, director of Base Reuse and Real Estate Development under the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development.

"We spent years, in some respects more than a decade, in planning around this site," Cohen said. "I don’t believe we could have achieved all the other objectives of the project and left Dago Mary’s in the middle of the entryway to the project."

When they took over the restaurant in 2005, owners Eileen Long and Brian Molony knew the site might be demolished for development. They have been promised a space to reopen Dago Mary’s in one of the new retail developments.

The owners are preserving the restaurant’s woodwork and fixtures to "recreate the historic atmosphere and the community we desire" in the future location.

Throughout the years, there have been marriage proposals, birthdays, anniversaries and graduations celebrated at Dago Mary’s. Hans Hansson, a long-time customer, said Wednesday that he once dined at the restaurant with a business partner who started crying at the table.

"The manwas in his 80s. He told me that 60 years ago, he asked a woman to marry him here and she turned him down," Hansson said.

The restaurant’s longest employee, server Lorette Thomas, said "a lot of sentimental things" happen at the eatery.

Thomas, who has worked at Dago Mary’s for 14 years, said she plans to retire.

"I’m finished. I’ve been doing this since I was 18," she said, during a busy lunch hour this week. "I’m going to travel, enjoy life."

The restaurant first opened in the 1930s as the Venetian Villa. A seven-course meal cost $1.25, including a floorshow.

It soon became known as Dago Mary’s after the hostess Mary Ghiozo, who "boasted a charm and personality to make her clientele feel important," according to a history of the restaurant printed on the menu.

"I don’t feel good about it closing," said Harley Welch, who dined at the restaurant this week. "It’s just another piece of San Francisco history that will be gone."

arocha@examiner.com

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