After closing its doors in July 2022, longtime neighborhood favorite Cha Cha Cha is expected to reopen at its original location this month, according to its owner.
Irfan Yalcin, took over the neighborhood staple from its original owners who in 2016 and, in 2017, took over the Haight Street location, announced he would be closing the 25-year-old restaurant at 2327 Mission St. more than a year ago. Now, he is returning.
In the interlude, the restaurateurs who took over the space, Mario West and Christina Lim, opened Kuba in April. They kept many of Cha Cha Cha’s menu items and its kitchen staff, but the sale, which was in escrow, never went through, Yalcin said. The restaurant quietly closed this summer.
It is unclear why Kuba’s owners backed out of the deal. They could not be reached for comment.
But Yalcin is excited to move back into his old digs, especially after reaching a new, “more friendly” lease agreement with his old landlord.
“I originally sold it because the rent was high; business was really slow generally in the Mission,” Yalcin said. At Cha Cha Cha’s Haight Street location, which Yalcin still owns, business isn’t back to 100 percent after the pandemic, he said, but it isn’t bad.
Yalcin, a Kurdish immigrant from Turkey, also owns Papito in Potrero Hill and, before that, ran Pera in the same space, before closing it for good in 2020. And he’s run his share of restaurants in the Mission: L’Emigrante, which closed in 2018, and Urban Fish, which closed in 2017.
Now, Yalcin is hopeful that the area around 19th and Mission streets will see a resurgence, with Bruno’s nightclub reopening soon, a seafood restaurant opening nearby, and Bissap Baobab and Cafe de Olla both opening new locations on the next block.
Yalcin’s team has spent the past 40 days renovating and making slight cosmetic changes, such as changing flooring in the event space and the kitchen.
The Caribbean and Latin-inspired menu, featuring tapas, jerk chicken and, of course, sangria, will be the same as before, and most of the previous staff will return. Even the manager, whom Yalcin said has been working with Cha Cha Cha for more than 20 years, will return.
“We’re trying our best to bring the old, what it used to be here — nothing more, nothing less,” Yalcin said. Even the kitschy tan-colored sign is back on the wall, with its marquee-light-style lettering reading, “Cha Cha Cha at Old McCarthy’s” — an homage to the post-Prohibition era bar that once sat in that spot.
“I told them to keep it,” Yalcin said, perhaps sensing a future need for the sign one day. It sat in the basement over the past year, and reappeared on Mission Street this summer. “Cha Cha Cha was like a legacy business, it’s one of the landmarks in the Mission.”
Once doors reopen, the restaurant will serve food and drink from 5 to 10 p.m. on weeknights, and 4 p.m. to midnight on weekends.