Station House Cafe reopens in its original home
The past met the present on Sunday, June 11, as Point Reyes Station’s beloved Station House Cafe welcomed fans to its brand new location – actually the 59-year-old restaurant’s original location, at the corner of Main and Third streets.
The popular eatery said “goodbye” to the now-102-year-old building back in 1989, but following years of uncertainty and angst due to a steep rent increase at its newer address just up the street, the Station House Cafe is saying “hello again“ to the old space, which has been renovated and expanded.
“I have mixed emotions for sure. Leaving is hard,” stated Petaluma’s Sheryl Cahill, owner of the Station House Cafe since 2005, in a recently distributed media release. “I started working in the former location in 1990, two months after it opened, so it is the place where many memories were made. And while I'm grateful for our time at the end of the street, moving to the center of town, back to the original location of Station House Cafe, is just a dream.”
Today the Station House Cafe, now back in its new/old space, welcomes diners to a redesigned interior blending “modern and traditional influences,” including large prints of the original staff and restaurant taken by renowned local photographer Art Rogers.
Such details offer “a stroll down memory lane for those who remember us at this location in the past,” said Cahill.
The new version of the restaurant includes three separate areas for public, private and semi-private events. Most excitingly for fans of live music, the regular band appearances that were ended during the pandemic will finally resume in the bar.
And chef Aaron Wright’s menu will still feature the favorites that regular customers have become dependent on, including the American-themed menu’s legendary popovers.
“Our traditional Station House Cafe menu favorites will follow us to the new location along with new, innovative menu specials customized to our new kitchen space and equipment potential,” said Cahill, who owns the nearby Side Street Kitchen as well.
There was a time not long ago when Station House fans worried the end was near for their favorite small town cafe. In the spring of 2020 – while the place was closed in the early months of the COVID-19 health emergency – Cahill was forced to announce that her establishment was permanently shutting its doors following a rent increase of 300%, which would have been impossible to absorb even pre-pandemic.
With a wave of financial support from across Marin and beyond, propelled in part by a robust online crowdfunding campaign, Cahill eventually announced that instead of closing, the restaurant would rebuild at its original location and move as soon as possible.
The landlord agreed to postpone the rent increase while renovations took place, but the uncertainty hanging over the move only increased as the pandemic stretched on, and Cahill was met with an array of challenges, from securing the financing to what she calls “a labyrinthine county permitting process.”
Three years later, the move has finally taken place. The building – which has housed numerous restaurants, a car dealership and a plastics fabrication plant over the years – has been fully renovated, including getting new plumbing and electrical systems, a state-of-the-art HVAC system, and more. Cahill has additional space to operate in, too, with the building’s restaurant area having expanded into an adjacent space formerly used as a gift shop.
“Converting that part of the building from ‘retail’ to ‘restaurant’ use was a long road down a windy path, but a great learning experience,” Cahill said.
Local designer Denise Rocco-Zilber, of Rocco Studio, contributed many of the restaurant’s finishing touches, said Cahill.
“And let’s not forget, we did all of this ‘backwards and in heels,’” she said, “which is to say during the coronavirus pandemic, agencies were slower to respond, supplies were placed on back-order, prices were unstable and the future for restaurant recovery was uncertain. It was a lot. But with the support of our spectacular management team, my exceptional contractors and artisans, and major community encouragement, we’ve reached the finish line.”