McKenzie Ward, marketing director for PlumpJack Group, which owns Balboa Cafe, says the restaurant was unable to come to terms with landlord Née Family Limited Partners “that allowed a viable financial path forward for the business.” The decision to close spawned “from not being able to find a business model that could be supported with cost increases from labor, rent, insurance, food.”
Ward pushed back on reports that the decision was made because of a landlord dispute. “The relationship ended amicably,” she says, noting that other factors, including the modern difficulties of running a restaurant, contributed to the decision.
“We’ve really enjoyed being part of the Mill Valley and Marin community,” she says. “However, we noticed that in comparison with our businesses in other locations, we just didn’t see the same level of support and foot traffic. After 10 years, we witnessed first-hand, and after speaking with other businesses, that Mill Valley can be a tough market for a restaurant. Balboa Cafe Mill Valley saw some success and we had a lot of loyal regulars, but the number of people patronizing our business was inconsistent and not sustainable for us to continue operating in Mill Valley.”
PlumpJack Group, whose other Bay Area restaurants include Forgery and Wildhawk in San Francisco, hopes to find jobs for its 39 employees at its other PlumpJack locations, which include hotels in Lake Tahoe, Palm Springs and Carmel.
“We’re working diligently to find open positions at our other businesses and also helping them find employment at other businesses who we have relationships with,” Ward says. “Our number one priority is supporting our employees in this transition.”
PlumpJack debuted in 1992 when future San Francisco Mayor and California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom founded the PlumpJack Wine Store on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. The original Balboa Cafe, which is 105 years, will remain open.