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