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Alice Waters’ Café Fanny in West Berkeley to close

Café Fanny on San Pablo Avenue, which is closing on Friday March 9. Photo: amorimur/Flickr

Café Fanny, which is co-owned by Chez Panisse restaurateur Alice Waters, is closing. Tomorrow will be the café’s last day, according to staff at the popular eatery who were only informed of the development today.

A senior staff member said the reason given for the abrupt shuttering was that the café was not financially viable.

Café Fanny was opened by Jim Maser (who also owns Berkeley’s Picante) and his sister-in-law Alice Waters in 1984 and named after the heroine in Marcel Pagnol’s 1930s movies, as well as Waters’ daughter.

A statement from the owners reads:


Twenty-­eight years ago Café Fanny was conceived in the spirit of Marcel Pagnol’s trilogy -­ a love story involving the whole community, centered around a little standup café.

So it is with a heavy heart that we are closing Café Fanny today after 28 memorable years.

It is the right moment in time to explore new possibilities for this small space that can still house the romance and idealism of the original.

We want to thank our staff, suppliers, friends and most of all you, our wonderfully loyal customers who have been with us in bowls of café au lait and beignets for so long.

With gratitude and love,

Alice, Jim, Laura, Steve and Kermit, March 8, 2012

Reader AB, who tipped Berkeleyside about the imminent closure, said she was shocked.

“I work right around the corner and frequent the café. It’s a shame to lose a great local business and I hope everyone who works there lands on their feet. Our office is buzzing with all of us wondering why this this happened so suddenly — the café is normally so busy there is a line out the door!”

AB went into the café this morning and said the staff seemed upset. “One barista I spoke with was already talking about looking for a new job.”

Café Fanny, a casual, European-café serving breakfast and lunch, has been a popular Berkeley foodie destination for 28 years. It is located at 1603 San Pablo Avenue, sandwiched between Acme Bread Company and Kermit Lynch Wines.

Interested in food and restaurants? Check out the Berkeley Area Restaurant Guide, with concise reviews of up to 100 restaurants each in Berkeley and Oakland. And read the story behind the guide.