Rumors swirled in Noe Valley when Tablehopper spotted that Chloe’s Cafe, that sweet brunch spot at the corner of Church and 26th, was getting new owners. Chloe’s is a legacy business, founded in 1989, and a longtime favorite in the neighborhood, where strollers and puppies congregate on Saturday mornings, some waiting more than an hour for thick buttermilk pancakes and face-sized omelettes. This was unsettling news: Were these new owners changing the name? Were they gutting the space? What about the banana-walnut pancakes?
Eater SF spoke with the new owners, and can provide some reassurances: Chloe’s Cafe is still Chloe’s Cafe ( not “Kitchen,” as some said). The new owners are a local family; the banana-walnut pancakes are not going anywhere. And they’re also going to add online ordering, bringing this old-school cafe into the roaring twenties. Dare to dream, brunch lovers.
The new owners are brother Bobby Siu, sister Sandy Siu, and mother Anne Siu. Bobby and Sandy grew up in the Sunset, where their parents owned Go Go Cafe, a Chinese restaurant, now long closed. Their mother also currently owns Abigail’s Flowers, a florist shop on Polk. Bobby is the chef, going to the local California Culinary Academy, before cooking for the Omakase group. Sandy says her brother hopes to eventually open his own restaurant, but given the pandemic, they decided to start with taking over an established business before tackling the greater risk of starting something new.
The Sius say the original owners, Steven Baker and Melania Kang, moved to Santa Rosa a few years ago, have been running the restaurant remotely, and are finally ready to retire. They say they met with the previous owners, who handed over a thick binder of recipes, well worn from the years. They also say they are trying to hire back staff, and the lead cook has agreed to stay on to keep those pancakes “as close to the original as possible.”
The menu is trimmed down but not dramatically different. “We are keeping most of the core items the same,” says Sandy. “We wanted to respect the huge following.” Sandy says many people have knocked on the door and begged them to not cut a favorite salad. They’re keeping all of the scrambles, as well as the French toast with strawberries, smoked trout sandwich, and house salad. They’re adding a breakfast burrito with sausage and salsa verde, and a new oatmeal griddlecake, which is “a little more custardy, with a crispy edge — it’s really good.” And coffee is now courtesy of Kahawa 1893, which sources directly from female farmers in Kenya. Check out the full menu, below.
As for the space, despite the rumors, “It’s definitely not getting gutted,” Sandy confirms. She says the space was long overdue for some updates, now required by the health department. They’re refreshing the paint and lighting, and putting in a coffee counter next to the door so it can operate as a takeout window for the time being.
And there might even be some welcome tech improvements. For years, Chloe’s was cash only, running on old-school paper accounting. The restaurant did start accepting credit cards a few years ago, but now the new owners are also launching a functional website with online ordering. It’s takeout-only to start, but they hope to add local delivery soon.
As to the reaction from the neighborhood, “There’s definitely been some fear. It’s been mixed. Some people are hopeful, while others are saddened,” Sandy says. “Residents have lived in Noe Valley for so long, and we understand that change can be difficult. But Chloe’s is not going to be something drastically different. That was never the plan.”