The next in the annual series of end-of-year surprise closures is 20-year-old butchery haven Cafe Rouge, opened by Zuni alum Marsha McBride in 1996. McBride tells the Mercury News, in a familiar refrain from local restaurateurs, "It’s steadily more difficult to find [good] people. I’m worn out."

McBride says that staffing woes had forced both her and longtime executive chef Rick DeBeaord — who's been with the restaurant and butcher shop since the very beginning — back to working both the front and back of the house. And she tells Inside Scoop that DeBeaord's recent decision to quit solidified her decision, and the restaurant's final day will be December 30.

McBride is credited with launching a movement toward more sustainable butchery practices, a return to artisanal charctuerie techniques, and influencing a nationwide trend of butchery-driven restaurants. Founders of The Fatted Calf and Berkeley's Local Butcher Shop can be counted among those who trained under her, as well.

Cafe Rouge's products have regularly been lauded at the annual Good Food Awards, but the Fourth Street institution's time has come, McBride said. "It's bittersweet," she tells Inside Scoop.

The restaurant has been sold, she says, and will reopen with a new concept, and without the butcher shop.

“It’s still going to cater to our neighborhood here and be a spot for folks to come together. I feel good about that," she tells the Merc. Stay tuned for details on that as we get them.

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