Beloved SF cafe closing after nearly 21 years amid 'worrying trend' of shuttered businesses

The owner says the closure had to do with rising rent and leasing conditions.

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Beloved SF cafe closing its doors after nearly 21 years in business
The beloved Reverie Cafe, which first opened in 2002 in San Francisco, is closing its doors on Sunday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Tucked away on the trendy streets of Cole Valley, you'll find Reverie Cafe, a beloved neighborhood hotspot that's been a staple of its community since 2002.

"We've had a lot of events here over the years. We've had marriages, we've had baptisms," said Reverie Cafe's owner, Roger Soudah.

But on Sunday, Reverie will be closing its doors for the last time.

Driven out of business, its owner says, by disputes with the landlord over issues like rising rent and leasing conditions.

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But it's not just the Reverie Cafe.

Across San Francisco, small businesses continue to struggle.

"Our streets are tragically dirty, and we're short on police officers so enforcement is difficult," Soudah said.

Reverie's closure has even made waves at city hall.

Cole Valley's supervisor, Rafael Mandelman, posting on Facebook about the "worrying development" of storefronts in San Francisco neighborhoods.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says, in addition to the challenges that come with operating a business in the city, recent economic realities have hit the hospitality industry hard.

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"Certainly other costs are raising. Food costs continue to go up. And then staffing costs have gone up. So it creates a lot of challenges," said Amy Cleary of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

Despite those very real obstacles, context is also key says the Bay Area Council.

Their data shows that more residential areas have actually flourished since the start of the pandemic, while places like downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods continue to suffer.

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"Those places many more businesses closed than opened during the pandemic. But a lot of the southern sort of neighborhoods, actually saw more businesses open than close," said Abby Raisz.

But back at Reverie Cafe, they're just focused on the next few hours.

Trying to make the most out of the time they have left.

"I'm really going to miss my staff. The future is uncertain," Soudah said.

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