Big news swept through the city with the announcement in the Business Times that TOSCA CAFE has been saved (owner Jeannette Etheredge reportedly owed $100,000 in back rent and was being evicted). Taking over the legendary location is Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield, known for swell New York establishments the Spotted Pig, the Breslin, and John Dory Oyster Bar. The Michelin-winning duo just signed a 10-year lease, and while they plan to renovate the space (and expand the dining area), they will be preserving a lot of what makes Tosca great (although I have a feeling Tosca’s notorious cash-only policy will be ending, and maybe that house cappuccino will finally taste good).
Joking aside, I am really torn by this news. On one hand, thank God the bar has been saved by people who I trust will do right by it. But there’s another part of me that wishes it could stay exactly as it is. I love the moody ambiance, the opera on the jukebox, the white-jacketed waiters, the utterly hilarious Edith Head graffiti in the pink women’s bathroom, the occasional peek into Jeannette’s amazing and memorabilia-covered office (which needs to be shellacked and left exactly as it is). And let’s not forget the always entertaining cast of characters who wander in there. It was one of the last bars where I could still surreptitiously smoke after the ban (mind you, I quit over 10 years ago, but still). With these upcoming changes, well, things will be different. I guess it’s another era for the space, but it doesn’t mean I won’t be pouring out some of my Negroni for the 20-plus years of wonderfully vivid memories I have had at this seminal SF bar. Stand by for more in the coming months. 242 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.