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Statewide Mask Mandate Lifts, Clearing Way for Bay Area Counties to Loosen Restrictions

Plus, Bette’s Oceanview Diner will be back and more Bay Area food news

Mayor London Breed talks with Cinderella Bakery owner Mike Fishman as they stand on Balboa Street in front of Cinderella Bakery on Monday, April 12, 2021. Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

On Monday, February 7, Gov. Gavin Newsom confirmed the statewide mask mandate, reintroduced late last year during the omicron-fueled holiday surge, will come to an end on February 15. It’s good news for California, which has seen case numbers drop significantly since reaching a peak in mid-January; but since most Bay Area counties still have local mask mandates in place, it’ll continue to be a mask-on situation at San Francisco restaurants and bars — unless local officials decide to update those mask requirements too.

Much of the Bay Area has been under a mandatory mask mandate for indoor dining and drinking since August 2021, when rising case numbers due to the delta variant spurred a coalition of seven counties to make the requirement official. And even though San Francisco lifted some indoor mask requirements for fully vaccinated (and, for anyone eligible, boosted) people on February 1, there have been no changes to the rules around masking-up while dining and drinking since late summer.

According to reporting from the San Francisco Chronicle, health officials in San Francisco will now be “evaluating our local situation” and “consulting with our regional and state partners on next steps regarding our indoor masking requirements.” Contra Costa County officials similarly told the paper they’re reviewing that county’s mask mandate. Stay tuned for news on any potential changes.

Bette’s Oceanview Diner will live on — as a co-op

Many pancake and hash-loving hearts were broken when the owner of Berkeley institution Bette’s Oceanview Diner announced the restaurant’s sudden closure last month. Now Berkeleyside has good news: a group of seven employees has rallied to bring the diner back; working with the landlord, who’s also a co-founder of the restaurant, the staff will reopen the diner with the same menu and a shortened name: Oceanview Diner. They also plan to flip the business into a co-op.

Catch SF’s only Nigerian restaurant at this pop-up

Fans may remember that San Francisco’s only Nigerian restaurant, Eko Kitchen, secured a commissary kitchen space in 2019, only to have it burn down during a five-alarm fire not long after. Well, fear not, chef Simileoluwa Adebajo is still around, cooking out of the kitchen at Merkado, and on February 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. the restaurant will host an Afrocentric party and pop-up dinner called “Homecoming: A Celebration of All People of African Descent.” Expect Eko favorites including jollof rice with grilled peppered chicken and sweet fried plantains.

Here are more details on Woods Brewery’s expansion plans

Eater SF already spotted news that Woods, the brewery known for its experimental fermented beverages, would expand to the North Bay, but now the San Francisco Chronicle has more details about the company’s expansion plans. In addition to a ski chalet-themed San Anselmo taproom, the brewery will also be moving into a new taproom space on Treasure Island.

Vacaville fourth graders protest for chocolate milk

Students at Vacaville’s Sierra Vista K-8 school are learning the power of collective action nice and young: Per an ABC7 report, a class of fourth graders staged a protest after the school took chocolate milk off the menu — and it worked. The chocolate milk is back one day every other week.