My parents, Rose and Roy Borrone, opened Cafe Borrone in 1979. I was eight-years-old, and I remember being in the original building in Redwood City with them daily, watching them and their team work, and helping out wherever I could. They found great joy in offering the community a place to gather and be in communion, a friendly place with the freshest, highest quality food. My parents began from scratch every day to prepare their menu, and made the freshest coffee around (as well as creating the iconic Frosted Mocha!) and also, to welcome each and every person who came through their door. In 1989, we moved our Cafe to Menlo Park and life as we know it today began.
The community of folks who relied on Cafe Borrone as not only a favorite place to eat but a treasured place to be grew exponentially. In the past decades, thousands of people have met by our iconic fountain for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, to be in simple communion with one another, to celebrate life’s milestones, and to make Silicon Valley business deals. Multiple generations of local folks rely on Cafe Borrone as a meeting and eating place. The Cafe has become a treasured gem of Menlo Park, shining from sun up to past sun down, always with family friendly service and extreme dedication to providing the freshest most natural food by choosing raw ingredients carefully, supporting local farms, selecting sustainable fish, and searching for the best organic meats around. We fuel a whole host of small local providers with our demand. The Cafe also supports the local workforce and economy by employing approximately 70 employees, many of whom have been with us in the kitchen and who rely heavily on this work for survival, for more than a decade. These employees are not like family to us. They are family.
Fast forward to 2020, and a life milestone we are experiencing at the Cafe, and everywhere that is not a happy one--a reason for generations to gather together emotionally but not physically: the coronavirus crisis. At Cafe Borrone we felt the immediate impact of the coronavirus crisis and economic slowdown in early February, and I scrambled daily to try to rework the business to accommodate it. By early March the fear of losing Cafe Borrone was already real, but we did not want to close. We wanted to be in community and to continue to support our workers and providers. However, the Cafe is known for its long lines and shoulder-to-shoulder atmosphere, and as the Shelter in Place order became a reality, we knew we needed to shut down on March 15 to help protect our entire community.
I have had the good fortune to be in and around the Cafe (with a short absence for college), for 40 years. As a family we’ve weathered plenty of setbacks, but this one is unprecedented. With no way to generate income for an extended period of time, our cash reserve has dwindled to next to nothing. I am doing everything in my power to generate funds and get assistance, but as you’ve likely seen has happened to many independent restaurants on the news, we did not receive any assistance from the PPP loan, and other avenues we are pursuing for loans have also not materialized. The scariest thing about all of this is that we are closed indefinitely. I am working to bring take away service to the Cafe in the next few weeks, but we need to be sure our workers are safe. Financially, we have a large staff we want to support, and we need cash to be able to start the ordering for take away. I am also aware that take away income is a tiny fraction of what we need to survive. It is expected that 75% of independent restaurants will not survive this crisis. I am doing everything in my power to save Cafe Borrone and continue to play our vital role in the Menlo Park and larger community. I am humbled to say that I need your help. I know this is a hard time for everyone. Anything helps - including leaving a comment about your experience at Cafe Borrone, and sharing this campaign whether or not you can contribute.
Thank you all so much. I truly hope to see you all at Cafe Borrone again, and SOON!
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