Momi Toby's Is For Sale (Again)

Momi Toby's Is For Sale (Again)
Photo: Reginald McDonald/Hoodline
By Nuala Sawyer - Published on August 28, 2015.

A Craigslist ad has been posted for longtime neighborhood cafe Momi Toby's, listing it as for sale. 

The ad describes the space as "having the charm of an old world cafe, with great light and floor-to-ceiling windows." Included in the sale would be a Type 41 beer and wine license, an outdoor table and chair permit, and a downstairs office and storage area.

The listed price is $229,000—$80,000 more than when it was put on the market in 2012

So far, Momi Toby's has had four owners. Longtime owner Terry Chastain started the business in the 1990s, eventually selling it to Ali Chabane, who owned the space for almost 20 two years. Shu-ju Lan bought the business in November of 2012, and sold it to Anthony Shou in 2013. 

In an interview with Hoodline earlier this year, Shou said that the cafe seemed like "a terrible investment" on paper, despite renovations made by Lan during her tenure. But he also worried that if he didn't buy it, Momi Toby's would disappear for good. 

The fact that the business is for sale again doesn't mean it's been a failure; Shou purchased it with a three-year plan in mind. Although he's only a year and eight months in at this point, an interested party sparked his interest in putting it on the market. "I just thought I'd try it and see if anything came in," he said. "But I might still be here in five years!"

Ideally, Shou would like to see the cafe remain Momi Toby's, but with any changes a new proprietor would like to make. Each owner has brought their own individual changes to the business over the years, and Shou acknowledges that in a changing city, businesses have to evolve to stay alive.

If no one bites for Momi Toby's, Shou is open to passing the space on to someone young with a unique vision, who may be opening their first business. Perhaps a pastry chef, or "someone who makes a reuben sandwich good enough to bring people to the neighborhood." Inspired, artistic, and creative are all qualities Shou would like to see in the next owner for the space.

Shou said one perk of the space not mentioned in the listing is the friendliness of the neighbors. He's owned businesses all over the city, but none, he says, have been quite as warm and neighborly as Hayes Valley. "My arms get tired from waving to people!" his mother told us from her regular table by the window. 

Interested parties can reach out to Louise Dawson of Vandermade Commercial at (707) 567-6739. We'll let you know if any changes to the cafe will be taking place.