Rhea’s Cafe (2200 Bryant Street), which opened in 2013 as a larger, sit-down version of the popular Rhea’s Market and Deli on Valencia Street, has closed. An employee at the Valencia location, which remains open, confirms that the cafe’s closure is permanent.
There’s at least one bit of silver lining: The Bryant Street location’s popular fried chicken sandwich, one of the city’s best, will arrive in some form at Rhea’s on Valencia, which hasn’t carried it in the past.
According to the employee, issues with the cafe’s landlord were one factor in the closure. In 2017, that landlord reportedly forced Rhea’s chef/owner James Choi to remove a mural by Sirron Norris, a local artist and lead illustrator for the TV show Bob’s Burgers. The mural featured characters from the show, as an homage to its creator, Loren Bouchard, who once lived in the building. He and Norris met and began working together in the neighborhood. The landlord was purportedly concerned about copyright issues with the mural.
Most recently — and after some time on the market without a buyer — the Rhea’s Cafe space became a pop-up home for millennial make up brand Glossier. Glossier gussied up the space and paid rent for the month of March, serving Choi’s sandwiches alongside lipsticks and eyeliners in a cheeky, unexpected pairing.
“To put it mildly, I thought it was insane when they first approached me,” Choi told Eater SF at the time. But since the brand promised to return the space to normal after its run, he agreed — and the pop-up appears to have been a success for all parties.
Eater SF has reached out to Choi for more information on the cafe closure, and will add updates accordingly.