Two high-profile Bay Area restaurants owned by the same management company appear to have closed in recent weeks, both seemingly unsustainable during the coronavirus crisis. Mayfield Bakery and Cafe, a popular spot for scrambles, croissants, and salads, has closed in Palo Alto, while the Saratoga, a swish two-story cocktail bar in the Tenderloin, faces persistent rumors that it will not ever reopen.
Both are owned by Bacchus Management Group, a company co-founded by Plumpjack and Il Fornaio vet Tim Stannard. Bacchus also owns Michelin-starred new American restaurant Spruce; the Village Pub and Bakery in Woodside; and most recently, opened Selby’s just last year, that splashy new steak and martini establishment on the border of Atherton.
In a statement to Eater SF, Stannard confirmed Mayfield’s closure, saying “Like many restaurants throughout the area and across the country, the impact of the COVID-19 virus and the subsequent shelter-in-place orders have reduced revenues to an unsustainable level.”
The light and airy cafe in the Town and Country shopping center was well-known in the area sa a place for leisurely brunches and lunches, while the bakery next door boxed up quiche, pastries, and some of the best canelés on the Peninsula. The prices slid upscale, but the wine list ran deep, and many locals will miss it. “I would like to share a heartfelt thank you to all of our team members, as well as our loyal guests, for 11 wonderful years,” Stannard said of the closure.
According to Palo Alto Weekly, Jim Ellis, one of Mayfield’s landlords, said that he’d been working with the restaurant to offer rent relief, but it wasn’t enough to offset the high costs of running a food business in the wealthy area. Numerous commenters responded to the article, both saying they would miss the cafe and bakery, but also contending that Town and Country wasn’t doing enough to help with the rent.
In the city, Eater SF has also received several anonymous reports that the Saratoga also may also be closing, but a Bacchus spokesperson has refused to confirm or deny the claims.
The Saratoga opened in 2016, with smooth drinks and upscale burgers and tots. Bacchus closed it completely when the pandemic began, boarding up its Tendernob facade. A representative for the group said that the property is still in lease negotiations, but has not answered additional questions. Ominously, the restaurant is already listed as permanently closed on both Yelp and OpenTable.
The rent conversations that reportedly happened at both Mayfield and the Saratoga may be a sign of the times. Earlier in the pandemic, state legislators proposed a law that would require landlords to negotiate with commercial tenants, allowing tenants to end their leases early if they couldn’t come to terms. The bill died in committee, leaving restaurants with little leverage other than to completely shut down.
The other Bacchus restaurants seem to be hanging in there, at least for now. Spruce is still serving its legendary burger for takeout and delivery, fans of the restaurant will be relieved to hear. The Village Pub, also a star and an institution, is now serving king salmon and sungold gazpacho for outdoor dining and to go. And Selby’s, the newest and buzziest of the group, just reopened with takeout filet mignon and negronis, fit for a quarantine birthday or anniversary.