Some will see this as worse than the closure of Macy’s, as the wildly affordable Financial District lunch and breakfast go-to Lee’s Deli has closed its last two remaining locations.

Yesterday’s announced closure the Union Square Macy’s was a gut-punch to the Union Square retail scene, as that store is arguably downtown’s anchor retail destination. But for people who work five days a week in the Financial District, the San Francisco Business Times’ report on the closure of the final two Lee’s Deli locations will hit even harder.

Lee’s Deli was a breakfast sandwich, lunch, and by-the-pound Chinese buffet option that has reliably been one of the most affordable quickie meal options in the Financial District for four decades. They'd grown to 10 FiDi locations before the pandemic, though that was whittled down to two as of early this year (280 Battery and 303 Second Street), and now there are none.

Screenshot: LeesDeli.com

We should note that Lee’s Deli is not the same as the highly similar Lee’s Sandwiches, a chain which still has an SF location at 625 Larkin Street, and kept expanding with two new South Bay locations in early 2023.  

Lee’s Deli has been around since 1983. It’s owned by an actual Lee, Lee Quan, who is now nearly 80 years old, and had hoped to hand the business down to his children.

"I wondered to myself, if Starbucks is leaving the Financial District, if McDonald's leaves, if Walgreens and CVS is going, what is that telling me? How can I survive?" Quan told the SF Business Times.

Quan also blames the San Francisco minimum wage law (currently $18.07) for the shop's closure.

But it’s not difficult to see that downtown’s lingering office vacancy rate and switch to remote work has eliminated the bread-and-butter of the FiDi lunch-break demographic on which Lee’s Deli was wholly dependent.

As the SF Business Times notes, with Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday being the only strong business days downtown thanks to hybrid-remote work, Lee’s Deli was effectively relying on 12 days of revenue to cover a month's worth of operational costs and business expenses. And that wasn't cutting it for the sandwich shops.

Related: FiDi 24-Hour Fitness and McDonald’s Both Announce Closures Amidst Record Office Vacancy [SFNews]

Image: Lee’s Deli via Facebook