One sunny afternoon, I met with Stanley Lui for a chat in the Inner Sunset. Stanley is the owner of bustling diner New Taraval Cafe that has sat at the corner of 21st Avenue and Taraval Street for 25 years.“I grew up here - all the customers have seen me as a kid to the point where I’m now seeing their kids grow up.” chuckles Stanley. Although he’s kept the diner true to what his parents wanted, he has allowed space for a community to build inside New Taraval Cafe.
“I still serve the same food and use the same recipes but I don’t want New Taraval Cafe to just be a greasy spoon - I want it to be a neighborhood spot.” Stanley explains.
He goes on to talk about how the importance of interactions with customers is something he did not quite grasp while growing up in the diner. As he got older, Stanley learned to appreciate those interactions and as he waves to walking passer byers during our conversation, I can tell there’s a strong community that has been created around New Taraval Cafe.
It’s been a tough year for diners but mostly for diners in San Francisco, a city where the food competition is steep at every corner. “Sometimes I think it’s hard to be a diner in a city. San Francisco has such a high standard of food appreciation.” says Stanley. What’s more difficult is the balancing act between profit and safety businesses have had to perfect this year. “This year has been difficult because I want to keep my employees safe but we also need to have customers to break even so we haven’t opened a parklet - but we do orders to-go and deliveries.” Stanley’s empathy also extends into the care of his customers. Over the years, prices have stayed consistently low, as he wants New Taraval Cafe to remain a place where locals can gather and enjoy breakfast.
Order food from New Taraval Cafe to support this wonderful small business with a kind and inspirational owner!
Although diners are not always at the forefront of our fast paced minds, one look at the Breakfast Special and the friendly vibe at New Taraval Cafe will change that.