A blue storefront with a rainbow flag garland hanging from it.
Milk SF's storefront on Valencia Street. Photo taken by Lydia Chavez on June 9, 2021.

Milk SF, a queer community cafe in the Mission, will be closing its doors this Sunday, Oct. 8, the cafe’s co-owner, Katey “Scoots” McKee, confirmed today. 

The cafe, located at 302 Valencia St. near 14th Street, is closing due to financial difficulties. “We can no longer afford to stay open,” said McKee. 

The owners never made a profit from the business, she said. Sales were, on average, down 30 percent in the last three months, and that, coupled with higher operating costs, left McKee and business partner Sharon Ratton with no option but to close up shop. 

The cafe’s three part-time employees were notified of the closure three weeks ago, McKee said. 

McKee and Ratton, her former fiance, created the cafe in the summer of 2021 as a queer-friendly space that was not focused on alcohol, saying such businesses were too often just bars and clubs.

“The queer community has been relegated to nightlife before this,” she told Mission Local then. “It was always where we were safe. That’s changing,”

The opening required major renovations: McKee said the kitchen had to be redone, a wall knocked down and a staircase installed. The spot was known for its signature nitro lattes and distinctive drinks, like raspberry matcha and dirty marshmallow oat chai. 

The majority of the cafe’s customers were regulars, said McKee. And each one gave their preferred name upon ordering. “We quickly learned everyone’s names,” she said. It was a personal touch to creating community, she said. 

The cafe also hosted a variety of events: Psychedelic healing, storytelling and drag brunch, to name a few. 

McKee and Ratton will now focus their time on their primary careers of hairdressing and metal casting, McKee said. McKee’s salon, Glama-Rama, is located just next door. 

“We hope with the closure that we will see more ‘third spaces,’ as the community we served truly needs and deserves such spaces,” said McKee. “We’re really sad to see it go.”

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Kelly is Irish and French and grew up in Dublin and Luxembourg. She studied Geography at McGill University and worked at a remote sensing company in Montreal, making maps and analyzing methane data, before turning to journalism. She recently graduated from the Data Journalism program at Columbia Journalism School.

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  1. What a huge loss for the gayborhood. I want to thank Scoots and Sharon and all the awesome people who worked there for creating an amazing community space. I will miss the staff, spectacular events, and delicious sandwiches.

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  2. Shucks, I wasn’t a regular, but the times I did visit, it always struck me as a good place.

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  3. Sorry to see any business close, but it was never clear to me what this business was. It didn’t look like a cafe. It was really messy inside and I thought it was a hippie-goods shop.

    Good luck to the owners in your next endeavors. I made this comment not to be mean, but hopefully to be helpful.

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