SoMa's South Park has been an enclave of tech startups and a haunt of venture capitalists going back to the 1990s — though its profile (and real estate prices) has only risen in the most recent tech boom. And when one of its go-to lunch and dinner spots, South Park Cafe, shuttered two years ago after the owners retired, the mini-neighborhood lost an important touchstone that had been there for three decades.
The little bistro is being reborn under new owners, as Business Insider reported this week, and the story is as you might expect — the owners of credit card startup Brex, which already offers its members a lounge and workspace upstairs, decided to parlay some of their $2.6 billion valuation into this well-loved restaurant.
The concept is "California bistro," and as Tablehopper notes, the team brought in Chef Peter Mosqueda, who previously worked for Square, "so he’s no stranger to the intersection of credit and cuisine." The menu features things like chorizo with mussels, lamb meatballs, gluten-free fried chicken, and cured trout with olive oil, chives, and capers with crème fraîche. Main courses are priced between $24 and $32.
Brex's co-CEOs are Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, who are both 23 and have never run a restaurant before, and they foresee letting Brex cardmembers order food to enjoy in the Oval Room upstairs — the exclusive lounge that opened in the spring and drew some comparisons to Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland's Magnises Townhouse in New York.
Dubrugas tells Business Insider that they aren't worried about the cafe being "like a super profitable business." He says, "We saw this as, how could we revitalize this for ourselves and for the community and make something that was awesome, awesome again."
And while restaurant employees aren't technically Brex employees (they're working for a holding company) and don't enjoy potentially lucrative stock packages, they are being given nice benefit packages, the team says.
As Business Insider describes, "Besides one of the kitchen workers who came out to the front wearing a black Brex polo-shirt, there were no other signs that a multi-billion-dollar tech company was behind the financing and operating of the space."
Also, as Eater notes, cash is accepted at the restaurant, as are credit cards besides Brex.
So, for now, we have South Park Cafe back, in a slightly more spiffed-up version of its original, cozy self. Just so long as this fintech startup that's bankrolling it doesn't tank.
Photo: Andrew D./Yelp