A Senegalese restaurant, dance club, and community center in the Mission for 20 years, Bissap Baobab, will close at an as-yet-undetermined date. Owner Marco Senghor is preparing to sell the Mission District building he finally bought last year and, if necessary, leave the country amid an immigration battle.
Senghor, founder of Bissap Baobab and its smaller neighbor Little Baobab, is still negotiating the sale of the Bissap Baobab’s liquor license and building at 3372 19th Street. Little Baobab, Senghor’s original space which now serves late-night pizza, will remain open despite the coming sale of its neighbor, he told Mission Local. A Baobab location in Oakland closed in an unrelated move last year.
Update, 12:50 p.m.: A representative for Bissap Baobab writes that while Baobab is indeed closing a new location will open in Oakland.
Last summer, Senghor was arrested by federal authorities who claim he illegally obtained citizenship. The business owner pleaded not guilty and was released from custody, saying at the time he was “dedicated” to fighting the charges and protecting his businesses. Senghor obtained his US citizenship through marriage — he has since divorced — and the case against him appears to question the legitimacy of that union.
Eater SF has reached out to Senghor for comment on the closure of Baobab and his legal case but has yet to hear back. Senghor told Mission Local he has no immediate plans to leave the country, and intends to use the sale of Baobab to pay for legal fees and eventually pay for a larger business.
Update, 1:45 p.m.: In a comment, Senghor confirms he has sold Baobab “to focus on my personal life.”
“I love my community and I will do the best to keep Baobab alive,” Senghor says.
Bissap Baobab’s place in the Mission’s nightlife scene would be difficult to overstate: After dinners of yassa with fish and couscous and mafe (peanut stew), Baobab’s dining room transforms into its dance floor, a lively, celebratory scene driven by African music. Its closure, though mitigated by Little Baobab’s remaining presence, would be a major loss to the city.
Stay tuned for updates as Senghor pleads his case and sells his business.
- SF’s Bissap Baobab to close, as owner fights immigration case [Mission Local]
- SF dance club and restaurant, now 19, secures permanent home [Mission Local]