New Café Enlivens Bayview
Boudreaux’s Café, located at 5030 Third Street, is challenging convention, and provoking a fusion of commerce. Boudreaux’s is more than a café. It started off by selling coffee and light snacks; this month it will begin serving a variety of organic, fresh, high-quality meals. But in addition to caffeinated beverages, Boudreaux’s offers antiques, collectibles, general merchandise, along with the public Wi-Fi and computer access that’s increasingly common at San Francisco eateries, but harder to find in Bayview.
Last September, café owner Tunisia Boudreaux and business manager Bob Baum greeted more than one hundred Bayview residents who gathered to celebrate the Quesada Gardens Initiative – a project that works to strengthen the Bayview community through gardening projects, centered on Quesada near Third Street – and the café’s opening. Boudreaux and Baum are using a variety of methods to attract Bayview’s diverse population into the cafe, such as showing the 2012 Presidential debates. Next year the cafe plans to add a fingerprinting service to its menu. Fingerprinting is necessary for certification in numerous occupational fields. Boudreaux’s will be one of the few Live Scan service providers – which replaces the traditional method of ink and paper fingerprinting with technology that captures palm and fingerprints electronically – that’s open on Sundays.
The café’s interior indicates that the space wasn’t always home to vintage clothing and collectibles. As described by Bayview resident Robert Davis, “It’s a very art-deco building with oyster-shell tile floors. If you look closely, you can see the layout of the old butcher shop.” During the first half of the 20th century, the building was a bustling, Italian-owned butcher shop called Esposto’s Market.
It was serendipity that led flea market antiquing partners Baum and Boudreaux to the storefront. Baum’s former business partner, Charlie Jadallah, co-owned the now Boudreaux’s Café building. Jadallah and his partner, Nelson Lau, had little luck attracting businesses to the space. Baum and Boudreaux saw an opportunity, seeking to capitalize on Bayview’s challenges. “The whole neighborhood has been so tired of empty businesses, the same foods, and no internet access. If you’re too rich for food stamps but just barely paying your bills, where do you go?” Boudreaux asked.
Boudreaux graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied the political economy of industrial societies. She’s passionate about seeking justice for the underserved. Boudreaux didn’t grow up wanting to own a combination café, thrift, and general store, but “This is what the world wanted me to do.”
“The love from the community has been the best part of this experience,” said Baum. According to Davis, “A lot of people think Bayview is dangerous and it is a ghetto, but what you’ll come to find out is that there is a lot of good and a lot of change happening here.”
In 2007, the Third Street light-rail linked Bayview to downtown San Francisco. In 2010, Fresh & Easy opened on the southern side of the neighborhood, adding more grocery options to a community that had few. Next door to the supermarket, at 5800 Third Street, a $75 million dollar mixed-use complex, offering market-rate residencies was recently completed. Bayview’s public library is being renovated, and is scheduled to open this January. College Track, a program designed to help local youth reach their education goals, recently relocated to the corner of Third and Jerrold streets.
Boudreaux’s Café joins Flora Grubb Gardens, All Good Pizza, and other emerging enterprises as part of Bayview’s renewal. “I believe in effecting the change I want to see,” said Boudreaux.
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