Toast owner Feri Bijan confirmed those rumors this week, saying the restaurant will close on September 1 when its lease is up.
“I was just losing too much money on it,” Bijan says of the Mill Valley location, noting that Toast Novato, her 5-year-old location in downtown Novato, is alive and doing very well. “And the rent was too high.”
Feri Bijan took over ownership of Toast in 2012 from her son Shahram Bijan, the tech entrepreneur-turned-restaurateur who in 2004 also opened the First Crush wine bar and restaurant across the street at 24 Sunnyside, the space that’s now home to Prabh Indian Kitchen. Bijam closed First Crush after two years and tried three more concepts in that same space. Shahram Bijan now runs Blink Design, an apparel design firm in Los Angeles.
Foodies conditioned to heading to 31 Sunnyside for breakfast-brunch-lunch won’t have to wait long for Toast’s successor. Steven Choi, the San Francisco restaurateur whose lineup includes Fred’s Coffee Shop in Sausalito, is set to open Kitchen Sunnyside, a breakfast-lunch spot, in late October or early November, after a renovation of the space.
“It will be a similar menu to what is there now, but a little more upscale,” Choi says. “It will be new American cuisine rather than traditional American cuisine. And it will look a lot nicer inside.”
Choi says most of Toast’s 25 employees will be staying on, as long as they can wait out the projected six-week renovation that will begin in September.
Choi, a San Francisco resident originally from South Korea who plans to buy a house in Tiburon, has built himself something of a brunch mini-empire in recent years. In addition to Fred’s Coffee Shop in Sausalito, he owns Taylor Street Coffee Shop, Sweet Maple (opened in October 2010) and American-Thai fusion restaurant Blackwood (June 2012) in San Francisco. He also opened Kitchen Story, which serves up Asian-influenced California cuisine in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, in November 2012.
In doing so, according to the Wall Street Journal, Choi, originally a bioengineer, invented what he dubbed "millionaire's bacon," the “thick-sliced, slow-cooked, sugar-and-spice-coated delicacy has since attracted the attention of the Food Network and legions of brunch-goers.
Choi says he had been looking for a larger space in Mill Valley for a while but settled on 31 Sunnyside because of its proximity to downtown and the space’s longtime home as a community restaurant. Before Bijan opened Toast there in 2003, the Sunnyside Café existed there for more than a dozen years.