San Francisco

Castro's 43-Year-Old Brunch Favorite Cafe Flore Is For Sale

The Bay Area Reporter brought word yesterday that popular Castro brunch spot Cafe Flore was put on the market this week.

In business since 1973, the 954-square-foot restaurant, which offers plenty of outdoor seating, is listed for $450,000 (not including the liquor license). The purchase price is only for the business; the property itself will remain owned by JD Petras, who's also one of the cafe's business partners.

SF Gay History tells us that Cafe Flore was built in 1973 by the Finnila Family on what had once been the site of the pharmacy for the Finnila's Finnish Baths. Cafe Flore was purchased by Mahmood and Ahmad Ghazi in 1977 and owned by them until JD Petras purchased the restaurant in 2002.

Cafe Flore, circa 1977.
PHOTO: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

Cafe Flore's current owners are hopeful that they'll be able to find someone else to take over. General manager Stu Gerry, who's one of three business partners who own the cafe, told the BAR that the owners have already shown the business to three prospective buyers.

The partners are willing to structure the deal in a variety of ways. Gerry said they're even willing to sell a portion of the business to someone who could provide the necessary capital to make improvements, remaining with the cafe in some capacity.

Whoever purchases the business will have free reign to make any changes—including changing the name. "It could be something else entirely," says Gerry.

Cafe Flore's outdoor patio is one of its major draws.

Gerry and his business partners purchased Cafe Flore two years ago, and have done a lot of work to renovate the space since then. When they purchased the business, it was with the intention of saving it, but as Gerry explained in an interview with Eater SF, "we just don't have the capital to take it all the way." 

This isn't the first time Cafe Flore has flirted with closure. Back in 2007, the cafe threatened to close if it didn't get permission to serve food 24 hours a day, have amplified entertainment or to serve alcohol until 2am.

In 2013, Cafe Flore's off-site kitchen was in jeopardy; the cafe had to seek approval from the Planning Commission in order to legalize it. Supervisor Scott Wiener ultimately wrote an amendment to the Planning Code that allowed for food processing to be done at an off-site location.

The likely sale of Cafe Flore only adds to a long list of vacant storefronts or spaces in flux in the Castro. Nonetheless, Gerry told Eater that he's hopeful a buyer will be found to keep it alive. "I don't want to be the one to bury Cafe Flore ... We'd love to see it continue, but we need someone else to come in and finish the job."

As we learn more about the sale of Cafe Flore and any possible changes at the restaurant, we'll keep you updated.


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