Updated is a new Mission Local series that is doing just that – updating old stories to see what has happened to the people and places we have written about, like Café La Bohème. 

When we made this video in November 2009, Awad Faddoul, an immigrant from Palestine, had already owned Café La Bohème, a cultural hub in the Mission since 1973, for 14 years. Faddoul refers to the cafe as his “middle child,” because he took ownership of the cafe on 24th Street in 1995 before the birth of his second child.

He tended to the icon of Mission bohemia carefully through the dot-com boom and bust of 2001, and the gentrification that followed the 2008 economic crisis, by hosting events like weddings, funerals, book clubs and activist meetings. Through it all, Café La Bohème has thrived and remained a hangout place for old and new neighbors – “the Mission’s living room,” Faddoul calls it. 

But the pandemic has tested Faddoul’s middle child. Café La Bohème closed in mid-March when the pandemic hit. The cafe reopened in May for takeout, but it is now struggling to stay afloat. These days, Faddoul, now 50, is the only one working at the cafe, serving a partial menu for takeout orders.

“I am digging into my savings to battle the pandemic, and I am still committed,” said Faddoul, who spoke from the cafe. “It has been hard to survive with all of the bills, but I am hopeful things will take a better turn. I have no intention of shutting down. I will use all of my resources.”

“Nothing can stop the cafe, even the pandemic,” Faddoul said. He then added that he is grateful to those who have dropped by for a coffee or a bite to eat. He’s there from around 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. filling those orders. 

“I would like to thank all of my customers over the years,” Faddoul said. “God willing, we will be back stronger than ever.”

To keep up with Café La Bohème, you can like or follow the cafe on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The producer of our original video was Alissa Figueroa, who is now a Senior Editor and Producer at Type Media Center.

See all in Updated.

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5 Comments

  1. Campers,

    Before it was a Cafe’, La Boheme was a cobbler’s shop.

    I knew a lady whose father owned the place when she was born and he
    planted a tree in front and named it after her.

    It is called ‘Irene’ (if it’s still there) and he named a second tree after her
    little sister (don’t recall the name but it is long gone).

    Lots of my friends worked there over the years.

    I can recall Robert Crumb sitting across from me drawing the best legs
    in town then and now which belong to Krissy Keefer.

    She was a young girl and a founder of Dance Mission which, I think
    (maybe Pandemic changed it) … is still there?

    Last time I was there the Chron’s J. K. Dineen was working on his
    latest book in one corner while the Ex’s Joshua Sabatini worked in another.

    Yeah, wadda place.

    Wadda town.

    Wadda clientele.

    Go Giants!

    h.

  2. A staple in the neighborhood. Many coffees catching up with friends, a quick bit before a dance class at Dance Mission or Mission Cultural Center, watching the elders chat and laugh outside. Keep fighting! To everyone reading, we have to support these café’s and shops who’ve been with us all these years!

  3. Thank you for this article. I am pretty new to San Francisco, and the Mission District, and love history and supporting small businesses. Will check them out.

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