Beloved Mission District restaurant and dance club Bissap Baobab is going out of business, and it's longtime owner isn't sure whether he will be allowed to stay in the country.
As Mission Local reports, Baobab owner Marco Senghor is in the process of selling the restaurant's building (which he purchased two years ago from his former landlord under a previous threat of closure) and the business's valuable liquor license to Peruvian empanada outfit El Porteño.
Senghor appears to be making the move in part to cover legal bills associated with an immigration fight he's been in for the last six months. In August, the Chronicle reported that Senghor had been charged with illegally obtaining his U.S. citizenship.
At the time, Senghor's attorney Jeffrey Bornstein said, "Marco Senghor, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, is an American success story... It’s unfortunate that the U.S. Attorney’s office has chosen to bring charges against Mr. Senghor relating to his citizenship process that was completed many years ago."
Senghor came to the U.S. in 1989 at the age of 24, via France, after growing up in a prominent Senegalese family.
Mission Local notes that the details of the federal case remain a mystery, but the citizenship issue appears to point back to a marriage. According to court documents, Senghor was married to a woman named Alice Ellison between April 2000 and August 2003. An address that Senghor provided for Ellison upon his divorce turned out to belong to a Los Angeles-based company called Coppens Immigration, the owner of which was a now-deceased Congolese immigrant who was also the president of the African Christian Community Church of Southern California.
Senghor has declined to comment on the case, and says that after he sells Bissap Baobab, he still plans to invest in another business — though he tells Mission Local that part of the motivation for the sale was the idea that "If I have to [leave the country] then I have to be ready."
Little Baobab, next door, will remain open and in Senghor's control. He's next scheduled to appear in court on March 21.