Noe Valley Voice July-August 2009

La Boulange to Open a Cafe in Noe Valley

By Pat Rose

After a four-year search for a site in Noe Valley, La Boulange Café and Bakery will open its newest location on 24th Street this fall, moving into the space currently occupied by Noe Valley Pizza Restaurant at the corner of 24th and Sanchez streets.

"I am extremely happy to finally find a space in Noe Valley," says Bay Bread/ La Boulange co-owner Thomas Lefort. "We love the neighborhood. We like that it is a diverse neighborhood with a lot of families, and 24th is a busy street with great merchants and excellent foot traffic. It reminds us a lot of a busy street in a French town."

Lefort settled on the site when he discovered that Noe Valley Pizza Restaurant proprietor Dennis Vozaites was planning to shut down the restaurant after 11 years of ownership. (Noe Valley Pizza actually dates back to 1980, when it was established by Dino and Maria Farmas.)

In late June, Vozaites had not yet set an official date for closing, but told staff and customers it would be sometime this summer. Vozaites' father, Tony Vozaites, owns the building and will remain the landlord.

La Boulange's successful chain of Bay Area restaurants--which includes eight in San Francisco and two in Mill Valley--is known for its artisan bread, croissants, and French pastries, which are baked and delivered daily by La Boulangerie, the company's bakery on Pine Street. In addition to morning coffee and pastries, the restaurant will offer open-face sandwiches, salads, soups, and brunch daily.

Lefort has applied for a transfer of the restaurant's existing beer and liquor license. This summer, he'll seek permits to remodel the interior, replace the building's brick façade with wood cladding, and install new windows and outdoor seating. Once plans are approved, Lefort estimates he'll need 10 to 12 weeks to complete the job.

Both Lefort and his partner Pascal Rigo, who lives in Noe Valley just blocks from the site of the new restaurant, are excited about opening in the neighborhood.

"We feel that La Boulange will be a good fit for the neighborhood. We will do our best to make the place warm and welcoming, and we hope the locals will like it," says Lefort.