It’s been a rough few months for the longtime Mill Valley breakfast institution.
​Though it was more than two months ago, Mama’s Royal Cafe owner Candace Paine recalls the scene vividly. She had a packed house for Sunday morning brunch at her 42-year-old Miller Avenue institution when a man moving into an office above frantically appeared at the front door, apologizing about accidentally breaking the sprinkler system.

Before he could fully convey his message, the evidence of what sent him into a frenzy appeared.

“This is like the Titanic,” one customer said as water cascaded down from above.

“There was a four-foot waterfall coming down on my espresso machine,” says Paine, who went into action mode. She turned to her buzzing dining room and said to her customers, “You have to leave immediately – and of course everything is on the house. 

Mama’s Royal Cafe has been closed since that fateful morning after having to replace an array of equipment including her stoves, ranges and the aforementioned espresso machine, as well as deal with water damage in the kitchen. But if all goes as planned, Paine is set to re-open its doors this Sunday, June 4. “It’s been a long journey but I’m excited to get those close to having everyone back here – the place is really coming together.”

And although it’s been a rough stretch for Paine – as he kept her employees on regular pay to help them get through the hiatus – she’s emerged from it all with sprightly optimism, sharing yet another anecdote. Despite her orders to customers to get out that morning and that the food was on the house, as she cleaned up amidst the water damage later that day, she realized that many of them left money anyway, anonymously. 

“I just have the best customers,” she says.

The 411: Mama’s Royal Cafe is at 387 Miller Avenue in Mill Valley. MORE INFO ON MAMA’S RICH HISTORY AS THE “LAND OF 1,000 STORIES.”

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