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History Stop - 642 Clement

Richmond Republic Draught House
This story stop is part of a self-guided history walk of Clement Street made available by Western Neighborhoods Project (WNP), a 501(c)(3) community history nonprofit founded in 1999 that preserves, interprets, and shares the diverse history and culture of San Francisco’s west side. Unless otherwise indicated, photographs used on this walk are from WNP’s OpenSFHistory Program, launched in 2014 to digitize and make accessible online thousands of historical images from throughout San Francisco.
Posters were laid out by Drew Moss and designed and printed by John Lindsey at The Great Highway gallery. Histories were modified by Nicole Meldahl, Drew Moss, and Chelsea Sellin, from WNP’s Clement Street Pub Crawl held in April 2023. They’ve been installed to celebrate new banners designed by artist Risa Culbertson and sponsored by the Clement Street Merchants Association (CSMA) in August 2023, thanks to funding from Avenue Greenlight.
View west on Clement Street toward 8th Avenue, 1940s.
View west on Clement Street toward 8th Avenue, 1940s. (Courtesy of a Private Collector / wnp14.1329)
Did you know that the Haig’s hummus you purchase at your local grocery store has a history here? 642 Clement Street was home to Haig’s Delicacies for many years before Richmond Republic Draught House opened, and so much more.
642 Clement was built in 1910 and began its life as a millinery shop run by Mrs. Orren E. Shorb. However, the store was quickly sold in 1913 “on account of sickness.” Up through the 1930s, it had a series of owners who ran a succession of related endeavors: millinery, dry goods, and women’s clothing.
In 1940, Anthony Ignoffo opened the Coliseum Shoe Store at 642 Clement. Born in Palermo, Italy, he had been selling shoes on this street since 1929, when he borrowed $500 from the bank to open his first store. A neighborhood staple, Coliseum Shoe moved to 617 Clement in 1973 before finally closing in 1981 due to high rent. John Ignoffo, Tony’s brother, had a shoe store on Irving Street in the Sunset District. Tony was a past president of the Clement Street Merchants Association and according to March 1998 obituary in the San Francisco Examiner, “was given the affectionate title of ‘The Mayor of Clement Street.’”
San Francisco Examiner, November 26, 1953.
Haig’s Delicacies opened at 642 Clement in 1973. According to Haig's website, it was founded in 1956 by Haig Kilijian, an Armenian immigrant from Istanbul, Turkey. He was born Hayik Kilicoglu on December 8, 1933 but changed his name when he became a U.S. citizen in 1963. At that time, Haig’s Middle-Eastern Delicacies was located at 302 Clement. The following year, it moved to a larger location at 441 Clement, home today to The Bitter End bar.
“Armenian and Greek foods are the principal stock in trade at Haig’s Delicacies,” according to a 1974 article from the San Francisco Examiner. Another article in 1977 detailed that “Four years ago, when Haig Kilijian moved here after eighteen years down the block, he put in four tables and began serving hot falafil [sic] and kuptas, a traditional Middle Eastern form of sandwich, within a few months he had to add more tables, and then a mezzanine to handle the overflow lunch crowd.” The business thrived on Clement Street, counting the likes of Robin Williams and James Beard as fans.
Haig’s Delicacies, February 13, 1993. (Robert Durden Color Slide Collection; SF History Center, SF Public Library / AAZ-0088)
Haig’s brother-in-law, Vahram “Bill” Takvorian, owned and operated the shop on Clement Street starting in 1980. All the foodstuffs were made on Clement until 2009, when Haig’s wholesale operations moved to Hayward. In 2013, news broke that the family-run storefront was closing after 57 years to focus on their wholesale products that graced supermarket shelves. “The family run business is known for their selection of foods from Europe, Southeast Asia, India, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, including rare and unique spices, teas, coffees, and gifts,” according to a 2013 article from the Richmond District Blog.
Richmond Republic Draught House opened in 2014 (retaining Haig’s mezzanine) and since then has been a pleasant place to grab a drink on Clement Street.
Like history itself, this research is ongoing and always evolving. If you have something to add to this story, we would love to learn it! Please contact Chelsea Sellin, our Director of Programs: chelsea@outsidelands.org.
More by Nicole Meldahl and Drew Moss
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