I know I was not the only one greatly concerned about the health of chef-owner Jacqueline Margulis of Cafe Jacqueline, and if CAFE JACQUELINE was going to make it through the pandemic and reopen, but it looks like the universe wanted to reward us all with some wonderful news! The 83-year-old chef-owner suffered some serious health issues (not Covid) in the early stage of the pandemic, and was in the ICU for over three weeks, but she made it through, and is reportedly feeling much better and getting stronger day by day. What a champ. She felt ready to reopen the restaurant, and they just finished their first week of service last week. It feels like a miracle. (Hat tip to @ornerypiglet for the great news.)
The beloved restaurant, known for Jacqueline’s epic soufflés, opened in 1979, and has legions of fans from all over. This really is an extra-special reopening and homecoming. In a recent post on their GoFundMe page (which helped keep the restaurant afloat, thank you all!), her daughter says, “I would like to say thank you and a million blessings to everyone here. All the support and love from the community is absolutely amazing and without this the restaurant would never have survived. Because of all of you Cafe Jacqueline is back!!!”
They ask all diners to “Please respect Jacqueline’s space and give her a safe work place.” She is an SF treasure, let’s treat her as such! (And don’t miss her French onion soup, it’s the perfect season for it.) The new hours are Tue-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 1454 Grant Ave. at Union, 415-981-5565.
More great news: chefs-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have reopened ~THE PROGRESS~ after ten months of being closed. The team has redesigned the menu, and made a few aesthetic updates to the dining room as well. They’re excited to welcome people back and are thrilled to now have all three restaurants open and operational. Time to celebrate with a Prog Dog! Open Wed-Sat 5pm-10pm. 1525 Fillmore St. at Geary.
Just down the street, MERCHANT ROOTS has also returned, offering indoor dining and a new experience for fall/winter. Chef-owner Ryan Shelton has drastically changed the former communal dining experience, and even cut their custom-made Monkey Pod wood table (crafted by Berkeley’s Z&E Slabs) into four tables—it used to seat eight guests, but now parties can sit separately for the experience.
The latest theme is Stone Soup, based on the classic European folk story that imparts the value of sharing. The dining room looks fantastic, with a pot over a mock fire pit in the center of the room. (I’m ready for some whimsy, how about you?) The nine-course tasting menu ($134/food, $83/wine pairing) will be available starting today (October 19th) through February 19th, 2022. Two seatings per evening (5:30pm and 8pm) served Wed-Sat, with alternating Sundays as well. 1365 Fillmore St. at Ellis.
Divine lemon soufflé at Cafe Jacqueline. Yelp photo by Jonathan H.