Just a few weeks after celebrating its fifth birthday, Mission izakaya Nombe has decided to call it a day—on the restaurant side, anyway. Inside Scoop reports that the husband-and-wife team of Gil Payne and Mari Takahashi, who've struggled with some illnesses in their family in recent years, have decided to stop serving meals at Nombe, instead shifting the space into a venue for cooking classes, catering operations, and potentially some pop-ups by other chefs.
When it opened in 2009, Nombe was a fairly unique concept, as izakayas weren't a known quantity in SF. (The duo previously owned a different izakaya, Sozai, in the Sunset.) It also boasted an impressive talent behind the stoves: Nick Balla, who is now the co-chef of Bar Tartine (and just put out a cookbook). After rapturous reviews, Balla left in late 2010 (bequeathing his fantastic chicken-wing recipe to Chino). From there, the restaurant underwent a bunch of chef shuffles, ultimately placing Takahashi behind the stove. In recent years, they've been riding the ramenburger craze, drawing big lines at festivals, and will likely keep that part of the business going. If you want to say goodbye, New Year's Eve will be their last hurrah.