Liberty Cafe Will Close, Morph Into Something New and Mysterious

Liberty Cafe

Get ready to say goodbye to the venerable Liberty Cafe. Neighbor Juliana noticed this rather dramatic bit of news that was just posted on the Liberty Cafe Facebook page:

Last Hoorah – Liberty will be closing it’s doors on Monday, 6/16 and reopening after a slight remodel on Thursday 6/19 as a new restaurant! Please stop by between now and Sunday to say goodbye to Liberty…

InsideScoop says the new place will focus on burgers and beer (per countless Bernalwood commenter requests). Watch that space.

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57 Responses to Liberty Cafe Will Close, Morph Into Something New and Mysterious

  1. Bubba says:

    They need to keep the name and Chicken Pot Pie. No doubt that “Putz David Kaye” will delight in what he thinks Bernal needs, comfort food aka, pre-fat-farm/call my radiologist faire. When Chef Chad Kaneshiro left, the food started to suffer, so maybe this is a good thing. Just keep the prices high, $25 burger and make it hip, so we can have more lively banter.

    • Byrd Bodega says:

      That watery mess they called chicken pot pie is an affront to the concept.

      Sure, the crust is good, but the thin watery mess on the inside?


      Good riddance.

    • kramsey6 says:

      That chicken pot pie was an undercooked abomination. When making a white sauce, you need to have enough cooking skill so that the customer isn’t tasting a mouthful of uncooked white flour.

  2. Pamela says:

    If anything the owner Vega needs to upgrade the service. It is unprofessional, disorganized. The prior 2 owners’ staff were great. The bakery put out delicious breads, pastries. It used to have the best pastry basket. The comfort food, quality dining is what made the Liberty Cafe such a special place. The neighborhood is upgrading, improving. The last thing Cortland Ave needs is a burger/beer joint. They’re a dime a dozen in SF. Just put a burger & good beer selection on the menu. That’s what Chenery Park/Glen Park did; & they’re packed every night. Hopefully, the Sat/Sun brunch will remain the same. Sitting on the patio is perfect.

  3. Bernal glen says:

    Well considering I always get a burger, this makes me happy:) please make sure to include a “protein style” for those on their diets. Or burger lettuce cups or whatever is starch free!

  4. toby klayman says:

    in the Spirit of Cathy Gundli of Liberty Cafe, let’s all help Chef Greg, too!

    and good luck to our Vega folks with their transition!

    • ParkStreetKs says:

      Ummm. Don’t believe Cathy Gundli, Original owner of Liberty Cafe,
      used a “Kickstarter” to get her business up and running ;)

  5. Burgers and beer? Oh dear. One less breakfast spot for my future visits.

    • Annie says:

      I know! I love Liberty Cafe – as is. Go to Sunday breakfast spot with wonderful staff and food. I find Vega to be not-so-great on any level and don’t relish the idea of burgers and beer (??) at all. Bummer for Bernal!

  6. I hope its more than just burgers and beer…

  7. BH Lovr says:

    Dear Hashem,
    With an outstretched arm please eliminate the servers as well. They were simply atrocious.
    Your faithful servant,
    Bernal Heights

  8. Janet T says:

    Hopefully keep the prices down! Noone is going to be happy paying for an overpriced burger.

  9. LM says:

    Vega & Guiseppe are very attuned to the community. I am sure it will be a great change. Looking forward to seeing what the remodel entails! It’s already pretty charming. I supposed the back patio could be cleaned up a bit with new patio flooring and some paint on the neighboring building.

  10. Brandon says:


  11. Kevin Krueger says:

    Thank god, stopped going here prior to the new owners as I couldn’t get a side of bacon or the toast I ordered on several visits. Hopefully service training will be a focus of the new concept

  12. Kevin Krueger says:

    Burger and a beer is a bad idea bernal needs a good breakfast / brunch place ! Please think weekend brunch options with better service or I will continue to walk to toast in Noe Valley

  13. GP says:

    We need something casual that is not high end. A place that you can stop in and get something quick. A bonus would be if the placed stayed open later than 8pm.

  14. Evie says:

    If true, I think a comfortable, neighborhood, burger and beer place is EXACTLY what we need on Cortland! I’m sure it’s going to be lovely and a fit for our neighborhood, because the owners seem to be keenly aware of what’s going down on our streets. As for breakfast, I’d imagine that nobody is planning on serving burgers. (Although one with and egg? Nom Nom!) But-Let’s all just wait and see, before we start the guesswork, right?

  15. Sam says:

    I’m gonna be honest here and say for me the only things that attracted me to that place was the banana cream pie and the walnut bread (which I know the banana cream pie isn’t the current owners original recipe. As I’m a pastry chef; much love and respect to Cathy Gundli. She did magic with that pie). I think the service was absolutely ridiculous, though to be fair, there were two gals who did a great job as well. I just felt bad they had to possibly share tips with servers who were clueless – bad management.

    I also once came to Vega to have dinner by myself and the host was the male owner. He rolled his eyes at me when I told him just one and told me there would be a wait. Then I caught couples walk-in with our without reservations were sat and he just ignored me. My partner and I vowed to never step foot in there as they obviously don’t want my money.

    Because of that situation and learning that the owners were the same at Liberty as Vega, I had a hard time supporting them given my experience – and I did spread the word. What pains me most is that this was Cathy Gundli’s baby and this is what it represents now. Sad.

    I hope they are reading this and take this information and use it. If you’re an owner of a restaurant and your customer service skills lack drastically, may I suggest you hire someone who fits the spot.

    A famous quote of the beloved Maya Angelou and something that can also be said of customer service/running a restaurant. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    • Megan Conroy says:

      False accusations !!!!!!
      Respect the hard work of others!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Sam says:

        Huh? How is that a false accusation?

      • Sam says:

        Oh wait, I get it now. You were or are the manager. That sucks. Better luck next time, Megan Conroy! Take criticism as improvement or brush it off. If you can’t handle it, then you’re in the wrong business.

  16. BJ says:

    the Crusted Fish Tacos and the Steak Salad are my favorites.

  17. BP says:

    So much negativity here! I liked having the Liberty Cafe so close, and will very much miss its brunch if they don’t offer it in the new iteration. I hope the new menu extends beyond just burgers and beer.

  18. Megan Conroy says:

    I heard the B in BSTAR stands for Brunch, Burgers & Brew, but that the menu will extend beyond those items.

  19. "me and mine" is not the answer says:

    I also hear good things are in the mix that will hopefully do justice to Cathy’s business and community effort to Cortland. The past efforts of trying to keep the same concept of Liberty and somehow keep it intact was kind of a misguided idea. It will always feel a soulless being that Cathy is no longer there no matter how many great hard working idea get implemented. Good folks with good soul and hard work are in the mix on this new project and I’m super excited about it.

  20. Judge Crater says:

    If they put some effort into having an interesting beer list, and a few well chosen wines, it could be a great new casual addition to Cortland St.

  21. Neighbor Peter says:

    It was a Bernal constant, along with Good Life. It had ups and downs. The servers were never trained properly though the Brunch servers have always been good. I generally just go for the Brunch/lunch as the dinners got very random. The Chicken Pot Pie was of course the signature and in its original form it was a pleasant alternative.

    I was sorry to see they stopped baking on the premises. It was of that original California Cuisine mold out of Chez Panisse, Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino, and Zuni. The design and decor was perfect for that, quite rustic and feminine. In some ways it gentrified Cortland (which I think is a good thing). I worry a Burger/beer place will be just another Barney’s, slightly upmarket. I suppose they can’t find consistent cooking for more ambitious offerings. The brunch isn’t as good as Plow’s and they should aim for that as they have the perfect decor for it and look at the wait at Plow.

    • Neighbor Peter says:

      And following up I realized that Hillside Supper Club is more or less the new Liberty Cafe for Bernal, gentrifying the North Slope a bit along with the Precita Park Cafe (the new Martha’s) and Harvest Hills Market (the new Good Life). Kinfolk/3rd cousin and Sandbox/the 903 incubator is the next step up for Cortland, like Incanto was for Church St. (replacing Speckman’s much like Valentina/Vega replaced the Hungarian Sausage Factory) leading to La Ciccia etc.

      More sophisticated demand leads to more sophisticated supply and then vice versa. Of course some view increasing sophistication as threatening, and they may find relief in the idea of a burger bar (like Toast was for Church St.).

  22. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    Hopefully they’ll do Breakfast/diner food, too. Because that’s what Bernal Heights is actually lacking — A basic diner joint.

    • nsfw says:

      What you don’t like Silver Crest?

      • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

        You know, I don’t. I really want to, and I love it’s ambiance/soul; It’s like a Tom Waits song crossed with a David Lynch movie. But, sadly, the food is terrible and absurdly overpriced.

        The last good breakfast joint in Bernal Heights that I can remember was the Barking Basset cafe on Cortland, and it’s been gone for ages.

  23. Lauren says:

    I’ve been saying that a good burger & beer place is just what Cortland needs for years. Something casual where you can meet up with friends or not, eat or not, have a beer or not, for lunch or dinner or in between (oh, a place where I can get a late lunch at 3pm!). Enough with the $25 per entree places.

    • da says:

      I think it’s a great idea. I’ve always said it’s what Bernal needed. I was never fond of the Liberty Cafe, but loved the Bakery in the back and someone mentioned earlier about the Banana Creme pie – the best. I don’t like the name Bernal Star, they should of kept Liberty Cafe. It was one of the 1st restaurants on Cortland.

  24. Smurf says:

    Kind of strange that they are verbally (OK, typographically) calling it BSTAR when there already is a BSTAR across town, on Clement. That’s likely to lead to some “meet ya at BSTAR” Google mix-ups.

    • jg says:

      Totally confusing. I spent a couple minutes puzzling over this new second B Star location whose menu seemed to have nothing in common with the original B Star. I hope they drop this nickname! I’m looking forward to trying the new restaurant, though.

  25. Pingback: Thursday: New Attractions, New Restaurants at the 2014 Cortland Summer Stroll and Art Walk | Bernalwood

  26. JP says:

    YAY for change! Sounds awesome, Vega and Giuseppe will create something awesome…look at VinoRosso and Vega..Vega is PACKED every night. I am just sorry we no longer live a block away. Buona fortuna to BStar!!

  27. JP says:

    and btw..since a few of you went off topic here and were dissing Kickstarter campaigns…do YOU have the funds to start a new restaurant. I think Crowd Funding is a brilliant concept, keep the stupid banks out of it, and anyone who CHOOSES to donate and get something worthwhile in return in their mind can do so. No one is requiring you to do it. Chillax!

  28. Neighbor Peter says:

    Here’s the new website, no menu up yet…

  29. Sam says:

    I went to their website and was impressed with the photos of the burgers! Did a google image search of them and they are stock photos and of other establishments burgers. Come on now!

    This is too embarrassing to watch!

  30. Debbie Gaskell says:

    We loved Liberty. It was such a great family restaurant we absolutely love the potpie and are so sad it is no longer on the menu. Please get us the recipe so we can try to make it at home. Or bring it back!

  31. Megan Conroy says:

    s a m

  32. Pingback: Vega Freeman-Brady Explains the Inspiration for Bernal Star | Bernalwood

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