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Demolition kicks off rebirth of St. Anthony’s dining hall

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Room to grow: St. Anthony’s Dining Room, which has served 38 million meals since 1950, is being expanded. - BCN PHOTO
  • BCN Photo
  • Room to grow: St. Anthony’s Dining Room, which has served 38 million meals since 1950, is being expanded.

Demolition began Tuesday at the original St. Anthony’s Dining Room, which is being razed in order to construct a new facility in its place.

The dining room, located at 45 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, has served an estimated 38 million meals to low-income and homeless people since opening in 1950. It closed in February to make way for construction on the organization’s new dining room, set to open in summer 2014.

On Tuesday morning, construction cranes began tearing down a wall of the building to start demolition, which is scheduled to continue through January, St. Anthony spokesman Karl Robillard said.

“It’s a very bittersweet day,” Robillard said. “It’s exciting to see this work being done and the future ahead of us, but there’s a lot of emotion about all that’s happened in that building.”

During the closure, meals have been served at an interim dining room around the corner at St. Anthony Foundation headquarters at 150 Golden Gate Ave.

“It’s cramped, but we’re definitely making it work,” Robillard said.

The new dining room, once it is completed, is expected to provide 40 percent more seating and storage space than the original one, according to the foundation.

The St. Anthony Foundation also provides a free medical clinic, a free clothing program, and residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, among other services.

More information about the foundation, including how to donate, is available at www.stanthonysf.org.