About a year and a half ago, smoked veggie duck unceremoniously disappeared from Love N' Haight's menu. At first, the disappearance of one of the vegetarian sandwich shop's most popular items seemed like a temporary blip. Owner Fey Chao wasn't sure what had happened—the vegan specialty just stopped arriving one day. Two months into the duck's disappearance, and tired of answering questions about it, she managed to update the menu board, hanging high on the wall above the order counter. "OUT DUCK," she wrote in almost illegible Sharpie—the end of an era announced in a low key characteristic of the shop's general ethos.
The absence of the smoked veggie duck was upsetting for those of us who had eaten it with almost religious fervor for years. Over the last six months, each time I stepped through Love N' Haight's door, bell ringing above me, I checked to see if "OUT DUCK" was still on the board, then muttered the same thing. "Man. That duck really is gone forever. But it's okay. As long as Love N' Haight stays open, everything is okay."
As you probably know by now, everything is not okay—Love N' Haight permanently closed its Lower Haight St. doors on Oct. 1, 2020. And it wasn't the "OUT DUCK" that was the problem. (We'd all just switched to the vegan chicken.) Like hundreds of businesses around the Bay Area, its closure was a side effect of the pandemic, exacerbated by an expiring lease.