Noe's Cantina closes in Noe Valley, building purchased by team behind 'NOVY'

Photo: Alisa Scerrato/Hoodline
By Alisa Scerrato - Published on January 13, 2020.

Noe’s Cantina has closed in Noe Valley. The neighborhood restaurant and bar that opened just a little over a year ago at 1199 Church St. shuttered on December 31.

The building was sold to husband and wife team Kristen and Michael McCaffery, who live in Noe Valley and plan to open a new restaurant in the building in the coming year.

The restaurant was previously owned by San Francisco native Tommy Basso, son of Wayne Basso who bought the building on the corner of Church and 24th St. in 1980 and named it "Noe's" before turning it into a few other businesses over the years, then temporarily leasing it out in 2015.

In 2015, John Dampeer opened Hamlet’s in the space, and gave it a refresh in 2016 to try to boost business but eventually closed it down in 2018. (Dampeer also owned Caskhouse around the corner at 3853 24th Street which closed in 2017, and has has since opened Fool's Errand on Divisadero St.)

Basso reclaimed the spot in December 2018 as Noe’s Cantina. At the time, he wanted to make it a casual, affordable, family-friendly neighborhood spot that would welcome "everyone and anyone," he said. 

It served casual Mexican comfort food such as fajitas and tacos, margaritas, and offered a kids' menu. 

Photo: Liam C./Yelp

The Basso family has a long history running San Francisco bars and restaurants, some of which are still running and thriving: The Lister Bar (once called Bar 77 and featured on the TV show Bar Rescue) and Delirium. Tommy Basso also had a few solo ventures, one being the Voodoo Lounge, although he no longer has ownership in any of those businesses.

To help promote Noe's Cantina, a few local celebrities were known to pop in, such as Liam Mayclem, local TV personality known for “The Foodie Chap," who often hosted events at the restaurant.

Liam Mayclem (left) and Tommy Basso. | Photo: Courtesy of Tommy Basso

Local celebrity Ben Fong Torres, best known as the character from the film Almost Famous and who also appeared in HBO's 2017 documentary Rolling Stone: Postcards from the Edge, often did guest bartending gigs there.

Ben Fong Torres at the 'Rolling Stone: Postcards from the Edge' documentary premiere at the Castro Theatre in 2017. | Photo: Alisa Scerrato/Hoodline

Basso said he closed the business and sold the building for a few reasons: first, because people who live in the neighborhood don’t go out that much anymore. He said that people who lived in Noe Valley in the past and were regulars at Noe's have either died or moved out of the city.

Basso said that Noe Valley residents now mostly work in tech and don’t go out and support local businesses. Instead, they do a lot of their shopping online.

“Noe Valley hasn’t been like this in 20 years,” he said. “And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. People aren’t spending money but they have a lot of it," he said. 

Basso also said it's too expensive to run a business in San Francisco today. With the high taxes, utilities, and paying employees a living wage, there’s no room for a restaurant to make a profit.

The liquor license transfer application posted to the building's facade for the new owners' business. | Photo: Alisa Scerrato/Hoodline

New co-owner Kristen McCaffery, who lives in the neighborhood with her husband, opened NOVY (at 4000 24th St) with her sister Kathryn in 2015.

While Basso was unable to comment about the restaurant that will open in the space now owned by the McCafferys, he hinted that it would be New American-focused and will likely open sometime next spring, possibly in April of 2020.

Stay tuned for updates.

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