When the news came out in June that the 38-year-old TOY BOAT DESSERT CAFE on Clement Street was closing, there was a sadness that swept through the city. SF native Amanda Michael of Jane the Bakery and Jane cafés tells me she was really depressed about it—she used to go there in high school, and fast forward to her taking her kids there. She says she was really down about it, and a friend sent her an article about the closure and said, “You need to take this on.”
As someone who has been struggling and in survival mode (like any food business right now), she says, “There were a million reasons why not to do it, and a million others why I should do it.” She notes they weren’t looking to expand, at all, but she liked the idea of stepping into a positive project for the city, noting “the pandemic has been so hard on everyone, in so many ways.” So, after working with the former owners Jesse and Roberta Fink, she took the torch, and is opening TOY BOAT BY JANE.
Toy Boat served a simple menu of salads, sandwiches, coffee, and of course, ice cream—all things Jane already serves at their bakeries and cafés—except for the ice cream, but that’s the fun part! Michael wanted to keep the tradition of serving Double Rainbow ice cream, but they’re now making all the sauces and caramel for sundaes, plus adding fun toppings, like Jane’s crazy cookie. She is planning to make sundae kits for home, too. There will also be Jane’s cookies, take-home cookie dough, pastries, breads, butter, cheeses, soup, and more. The other Jane locations will be supplying all the grab-and-go salads and sandwiches, which will keep things pretty streamlined—and they’re all located pretty close to the Geary corridor, a straight shot.
As for the interior, which was packed tight with a massive and dense collection of vintage toys, they had to take everything down for a deep cleaning and repainting. They have been carefully editing down the collection of toys and need to declutter the space for ease of cleaning and sanitization, a requisite these days. Any of the toys that didn’t make the cut will be returned to previous owner Jesse Fink, so fear not—if you don’t see one of your favorites, it wasn’t heartlessly cast away to the toy heap! They have also added a mural.
The hope is to open this Friday September 18th (thanks to Eater for the tip-off about the opening date), once they get their health department inspection and sign-off. Follow @toyboatbyjane for the official opening announcement!
Initial hours will be 8am-8pm—they want to see what the neighborhood needs (online ordering is coming soon). Michael’s hope is that people will come by for an ice cream after dinner at home, and it would be a fun field trip for kids (and adults, let’s be real here). Because: ice cream! She is so touched by the neighborhood’s excitement to see Toy Boat reopen—she said people have even been slipping notes under the door. Awwww! Here’s to keeping an SF treasure box open—both for the kids, and our inner children. 401 Clement St. at 5th Ave.
Just a few of the many, many toys at Toy Boat by Jane. Photo courtesy of Amanda Michael.