Los Angeles

Family, Co-Workers Mourn Loss of Chef Found Dead in Westfield Mall Stairwell

"Frank was a free spirit;" his brother said.

The popular Sons & Daughters restaurant closed its doors Thursday as colleagues mourned the death of Frank Galicia, the 28-year-old whose body was found in a stairwell of San Francisco's Westfield Mall the day before.

Galicia's family is trying to come to grips with the death of their loved one and are having a tough time comprehending why the line chef, originally from Los Angeles, was killed in what appears to be a violent manner.

"Frank was a free spirit; his persona was very laid back," his brother, Louis Galicia, said by phone Thursday night. "He just went with the flow; he never had any beef or disgruntled situation with anyone."

Galicia's body was found Wednesday 10:15 a.m. in a stairwell by Bloomingdale's at the mall, with  scratches and numerous injuries, and he was "unresponsive" when found, according to a co-worker who discovered the body. Police ruled the death a homicide, but haven't said much more. Detectives are looking if there are surveillance cameras in the area to help them figure out what happened.

Galicia's Instagram page shows that he was a student at City College of San Francisco. Sprinkled among photographs of the city that he called home, Galicia also chronicled his love for cooking and trying out new restaurants. His most recent picture was posted three days ago at the Black Cat bar. 

His friends at Sons & Daughters thought it was very odd when he didn't show up for work. Staff was told Thursday, and the restaurant was closed.

"We are shocked and devastated by Frank’s passing — we are a small team that operates like a close-knit family and he will be dearly missed," Sons & Daughters said in an official statement. "Our thoughts and condolences are with Frank’s family and friends at this difficult time."

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Today is a good day.

A post shared by Frank Galicia (@101pch) on

Sons & Daughters is a Michelin-starred restaurant known for its seasonal tasting menu. Its 28 seats get booked really easily, and reservations have to be made way in advance.

Executive chefs Matt McNamara, a James Beard "Rising Star" nominee, and Teague Moriarty, of Santa Cruz, are regarded highly in the restaurant community. Customers often rave about their organically grown produce, which they farm themselves in Los Gatos.

Moriarty declined to comment Thursday, saying he had only learned of Galicia's death an hour before and was stunned.

He has since created a GoFundMe account in Galicia's honor, which Moriarty hopes will help the victim's family members, who have temporarily relocated to the Bay Area as police investigate the homicide.  

"This sudden loss has devastated Frank's family, friends, and his team here at Sons & Daughters," Moriarty wrote on the GoFundMe page. "We were so lucky to have known and [worked] with Frank. The restaurant industry in SF is tight knit and we collectively feel the loss." 

Meanwhile, word of Galicia's death also spread quickly among neighbors.

"It's obviously very sad," said resident Jeanie St. Martin, who didn't know the victim. "Sons & Daughters has been here in this neighborhood for a while, so anyone who has been a victim of anything like that ... it's heartbreaking."

On the heels of Galicia’s death, nervous mall employees said they were avoiding stairwells and only venturing outside — to Fifth and Market streets in downtown San Francisco — in pairs. 

The Westfield mall, although a popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, has been subjected to a rash of crimes in recent years.

A person was shot in a parking garage near Bloomingdale’s last November, while a 19-year-old man suffered multiple gunshot wounds in February 2014. A trio of armed and masked robbers also barged into Tiffany's and made off with a stash of diamonds in February 2015

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