The iconic indoor-outdoor Cafe Flore (more recently just "Flore") at Noe and Market has weathered storms and ownership changes before. But over the holidays the place quietly shut its doors and posted a notice saying that it's becoming an event space.
Restaurants that still have time on their leases often pivot to event rentals to pay some of their bills after closing regular operations, and that seems to be what's happened here — similar to Finn Town down the block and across the street, which shuttered last August. As Hoodline reports, manager Luke Bruner confirmed the closure of Flore, and the sign outside says that the "Greenhouse Event Space" will be available "all winter long." State Senator Scott Wiener is having a re-election campaign kickoff event there on Saturday morning.
13 years ago, Cafe Flore's owners said it was facing imminent closure as they tried to via for a license for amplified entertainment and 24-hour food service. More recently, the owners got in trouble with the city for operating an un-permitted prep kitchen in the back of a nail salon across the street — the kitchen in Flore's actual space is closet-sized, much like the bathroom. That situation got resolved with then-Supervisor Wiener's help in 2013, much to the chagrin of the always staunch Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association.
An ownership change in 2016 also had the neighborhood worried, but new owners Terrance Alan and Aaron Silverman pledged to keep the place the same. A former full owner, Stu Gerry, maintained a minority stake in the business.
The neighborhood association was also against turning the nail salon space at 258 Noe Street, currently Gloss 'n' Glam, into a marijuana dispensary from Flore's current owners, to be called Flore Store. It's unclear if that project is still moving forward, but it won approval from Planning in October, so long as it does not use the on-site kitchen for any product-related purpose. At the time, the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association complained of the restaurant's "convoluted ownership structure," and expressed distrust about their intentions with the proposed dispensary space. The owners pledged that it would be retail-only, and there would be no onsite consumption lounge.
An earlier effort to turn Flore itself into a cannabis cafe never took off, and the city still does not offer permits for places that offer both food/alcohol and cannabis.
The prime location of Cafe Flore and its perennial popularity as a brunch destination would suggest that it may not stay vacant long — but stay tuned.