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SF Restaurant Goers Order Foie Gras As Statewide Ban Looms

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - A foie gras lunch special at one North Beach restaurant has become a sellout item among San Francisco restaurant goers ahead of a statewide ban on the delicacy that begins on Sunday.

The artisan foie gras torchon and duck prosciutto sandwich has been a signature of the menu at Naked Lunch since it opened in North Beach in 2009, said owner Ryan Maxey.

"We've sold more in the last month than we've probably sold in the last two years," he said.

KCBS' Anna Duckworth Reports:

Restaurants throughout California have been serving up their final plates of foie gras before serving it becomes illegal under a law signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2004. The new law prohibits force feeding corn to ducks and geese to fatten their livers.

July 1 marks the end of an eight-year grace period on a ban Maxey said many people doubted would ever take effect.

"I think over the past two months, people have gone, wow, this thing really is going to happen," he said.

Other restaurants have also seen an uptick in demand as awareness of the imminent ban grew.

One of Maxey's persistent customers, Carolina Leana, had to come back on a different day because the foie gras supply couldn't meet demand.

"I wanted to have it one last time," she said, amid the lunchtime crowds of a sunny Friday afternoon.

"I actually came by yesterday at 11:30 and they were all sold out. So I had to come back today and make sure I got it."

The ban means the end for one of the nation's leading foie gras farmers, Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, although Maxey did not rule out the possibility the ban might eventually be repealed.

"Chicago tried to do it in 2006 and it lasted a year and a half," he said.

Some of his customers admitted they were perplexed by the ban.

"I think it's a sad thing. I don't believe it's any more cruel than any other sort of farming practices that are going on in this country," said Linda Wong, who drove up from the South Bay for a foie gras sandwich at Naked Lunch.

Although foie gras remains legal in other states, Wong's drive seemed to be as far as anyone waiting for a table on Friday seemed willing to do.

"I'm not going to drive to Oregon just have foie gras," said Steven Chu. "It's not something I'm going to go seek out."

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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