The Red Door Cafe, a one-man show brunch with a cult following, has ended its run at 1608 Bush Street. Ahmed, the Red Door’s eccentric owner, chef, and server, sold his business in Lower Pac Heights according to sources on Yelp, Twitter, and Instagram, and closed at the end of December.
Updated on January 2, 1:45 p.m.: Ahmed confirms that The Red Door Cafe has closed so that he can recharge and eventually relocate, likely somewhere outside of California.
Only the good-humored and polite were permitted entry to the Red Door Cafe. “I wanted to make them feel at home, and to feel at home around them,” Ahmed recalls to Eater SF. His restaurant gained fans for its french toast and vegetarian and vegan food, as well as notoriety for its participatory atmosphere. Bachelorette party-inspired decor set the scene for patrons who endured the usually long wait, seated in groups of no more than two. Between taking orders and preparing food, Ahmed held court, carousing with customers and sitting on laps. “If you were loved, maybe toward the end, you got a kiss, or if you were really good, a spank,” Ahmed says.
The Red Door Cafe has moved before, relocating from California Street to Oakland before setting up shop at the most recent Bush Street location. But “after almost a decade in this location, I need to take a break,” Ahmed says. “I’m not rebirthing [the cafe] again [in the Bay Area]. I’d love to relocate somewhere mellower, and less congested.”
Looking back, says Ahmed, “this was the best chapter of my life, it’s incredible.” People came for the food and “fearless sense of humor,” with fans traveling back for their last meal from as far as Palm Springs and LA, bringing cards and flowers for their host in hopes, perhaps, of one last spank.