FrantoioSan Francisco Chronicle‘s reports this week on a closure that is tangentially connected to Mill Valley.

Tom Buswell, who owned the popular, Cass Calder Smith-designed, 6,000-square-foot Italian restaurant Frantoio Ristorante in Tam Junction for many years until it closed in 2019 and later turned into Floodwater, has shut down Caffe Centro, the popular breakfast and lunch spot in San Francisco’s South Park he owned since 2013. Buswell recalled the founders of online grocery delivery app Instacart left a company credit card at the register, since their workers came in for breakfast or lunch so often, the Chronicle reported.

Caffe Centro’s original owners and founders, Max and Francesca Applegarth, opened the coffee shop in 1992. The cafe was a hit with neighbors, and a place where workers in the nascent online tech industry stopped by for drip coffee and espresso drinks. The concise lunch menu offered a few sandwiches and salads.

The cafe was just a few steps from the office where Twitter and Instagram both got their start, the Chronicle reported. Buswell told the paper that the slow recovery in the city’s downtown core led him to take on large debt to keep the business afloat through the COVID-19 pandemic. Three years after the work-from-home shift, business has not yet rebounded. The shop was recently seeing 30% of its pre-pandemic activity, Buswell said A break-in roughly two weeks ago was the final straw for Buswell to not renew his lease.

A note taped to the shop’s door states that Caffe Centro’s workers plan on taking over the shop.

Buswell is reportedly moving back to his native England.


Want to know what’s happening around town? Click here to subscribe to the Enjoy Mill Valley Blog by Email!