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    Café Flore Offers Soul-Satisfying Meals and Queer Camaraderie in the Heart of the Castro

    cafeflore3We cannot imagine the Castro without Café Flore. In the heart of our neighborhood since 1973, it has always provided a welcome spot to meet, eat, linger, engage in passionate conversations and read newspapers like the San Francisco Bay Times! The spirit of the popular café, restaurant and bar matches that of the LGBT community itself. Instead of having a formal, closed door facing the street, its seating spills outside, welcoming passers by. At night, its lights warmly glow, providing a home away from home for many members of our team and countless others.

    On several occasions, we have struck up conversations with people at nearby tables. Whether regulars, visitors, or newcomers, all appeared to gain some comfort, and a great meal, thanks to Café Flore. Open until midnight every day of the week, the café is like a dependable friend whom we should not take for granted. And, as for a friend, everyone seems to have opinionated ideas on how Café Flore should look and plan its future.

    Café Flore recently underwent a mini makeover, and many new happenings are in the works, including a visit from two Academy Award nominees! We met up with co-owner Stu Gerry, who shared just some of what’s in store for the coming months at the treasured Castro landmark.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What do you think makes Café Flore so special and beloved?

    Stu Gerry: Café Flore is, and has always been, an institution that has opened its doors to everyone, no matter their place in life. It’s a safe place for the LGBT community, a favorite among travelers, and a coveted stop for locals as well. It’s the architecture, the magical garden, the casual atmosphere and our great staff that keep people coming back year after year.

    San Francisco Bay Times: For those who haven’t been to Café Flore in a while, please tell us about what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.

    Stu Gerry: In July of 2014, Brett Klinker and I came on as partners with JD Petras to revive and continue the Café Flore legacy. There are no longer cashiers, and full table service is now in place. The bar has been updated, and will continue to be brought into 2015 as the year rolls out. The ambiance and casual feeling at the café, however, stays the same. We have great respect for the past, and listen to our customers’ input to make it continue to be the place everyone knows and loves. There will be much change in the months to come: new events, new menu items, and a fresh approach to serving our very important community.

    San Francisco Bay Times: Can you be more specific? For example, are there any new items on the menu we should know about?

    Stu Gerry: We have brought many new signature dishes to the menu, like Cheddar Biscuits and Gravy, our Fried Chicken Sandwich, Croques Madame, and many more. This winter we are serving fresh True Cod Fish and Chips, and have lots of daily specials.

    San Francisco Bay Times: How about new drink offerings?

    Stu Gerry: We will be reviving our very popular happy hour drink specials in 2015. The wine list and cocktail menu are ever-changing, and will be responding to the seasons to have a little more sophisticated approach to our service. We now have, in summer, our signature sangria served from our new Slushee machine to cool patrons down. Wines and spirits will also be following the seasons of the year. We just featured in November and December the lovely Beaujolais Nouveau, which is an annual litmus test for what the vintage has to offer from France. Many Spanish, French, and California wines have hit our wine list with great results. The bar will be focusing on products that are not artificially flavored or colored, and have an emphasis on small batch, handmade artisan spirits. This simply elevates the experience. Let’s be clear that we know and love that people still come to Flore for coffee and pastries, which we will always continue to offer. Everyone is welcome to come to Flore, and there are no wrong answers, just more options.

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    San Francisco Bay Times: What events are coming up on the Café Flore calendar?

    Stu Gerry: We have a local ukulele band that will be performing in February! We have our wildly popular Sunday Trivia night from 7–9pm. We have the lady crooner Charlotte Redor singing on Tuesdays twice a month. Today, January 8, Southern Comfort is sponsoring our in house jazz band Cafe Society from 8–10pm. In early February, we will be having a champagne toast for the two filmmakers nominated for an Oscar this year with their Der Kreis documentary, which is a love story about these two gentlemen surviving Nazi Germany as a gay couple and giving life to an underground gay society in Zurich. They have been together 58 years, and are truly an amazing couple to meet. Their story really puts gay rights into perspective. We are so fond of Röbi and Ernst that we decided to throw them a little party in appreciation, so members of the community can come share a glass and give a toast to these very important historians of gay rights and culture. You can always check our calendar of events at our website.

    San Francisco Bay Times: With many changes going on in the Castro neighborhood for residents and for businesses too, why do you think Café Flore remains?

    Stu Gerry: I think it’s all about character and uniqueness. In the changing times we now have in San Francisco, we feel it’s important to keep this property a stronghold of not only what San Francisco was, but also to continue to have the real San Francisco be preserved. The soul of San Francisco will be lost if we let places like Flore go by the wayside and simply sell to the highest bidder. Café Flore will never become a condo building if we have anything to say about it.

    San Francisco Bay Times: What else do you see for the future of Café Flore?    

    Stu Gerry: We have many plans for Flore that include upgrading essentially everything in a gradual and consistent manner. We are working on the menu, the kitchen, the patio, the building itself. It is a structure that has been around for a very long while, and it will take some tender loving care as time goes on. We take inspiration from many things, but most importantly, we are trying to pay respect to the past to help direct us into the future.

    We want the community to know that Flore is still very much a work in progress, and we are trying very hard to respond to our community, and keep Flore a fun and enjoyable safe place for all residents of San Francisco to enjoy. Our doors are always open to you. We love San Francisco, and are humbled by its rich history. Café Flore has great things in its future, and we hope everyone will come and be a part of it.

    Café Flore is at 2298 Market Street in San Francisco. For more information, please visit http://www.cafeflore.com/