Business

Cafe Nourishes Outer Sunset Community

Sunset’s Boavida Offers ‘The Good Life’

By Erin Bank

It is just after closing time at Boavida Cafe and Market, on 46th Avenue and Taraval Street, but the door is wide open on a sunny day and owner Andrea de Francisco has her hands full. She removes a cake from a pan and has two kitchen timers running to tell her when to check the muffins and other goodies she is baking. But she is smiling, laughing with her staff and joking with a regular customer who persuades her to let him buy a cookie, even though it is after hours.

De Francisco also owns Tunnel Records at 3614A Taraval St., down the block from Boavida. She lives with her two young daughters in the Outer Sunset neighborhood and has wanted to open a small cafe in the neighborhood for years. When the space on Taraval became available in 2019, she jumped at the opportunity. 

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Andrea de Francisco, owner/operator at Boavida Cafe and Market, brings a Portuguese influence to the Outer Sunset. Its website proclaims: “We hope to transport you to a place you perhaps have never even been … a small coastal European town where everyone greets each other on the street and stops to chat over coffee, where you feel the cool ocean breeze brush through your hair … where coffee breaks are frequent throughout the day.” Photos by John Oppenheimer.

“My hope with Boavida is to provide the neighborhood with some delicious and healthy food, and a small market where they could pick up fresh bread, fruit, cheese and wine. We even sell toilet paper, due to neighborhood demand,” she explained. 

The cafe also pays homage to her family’s roots in São Jorge, part of the Açores Islands region of Portugal (boa vida means “the good life” in Portuguese). The menu is heavily Portuguese-inspired, with popular items including the Portuguese breakfast baguette (fresh baguette, Zoe’s ham, butter and Portuguese cheese); the breakfast roll (Portuguese sweet roll, piri piri butter, baked egg, Portuguese cheese and arugula); and Pastel de Nata (Portuguese egg tart).

Like other small businesses in San Francisco, Boavida faces the challenges of rising rent prices, labor and supplies (which drove de Francisco to sell her previous enterprise, Cafe St. Jorge, in the Mission District in 2017) and customers who don’t want to pay more. 

“I want to say, ‘If you only knew how much it costs!’ Small business owners in San Francisco are not getting rich. We do what we do for the pure love of it,” de Francisco said. 

She stressed the importance of supporting small neighborhood businesses. 

“We all live here, too, we’re not just coming into the neighborhood to get rich and then leaving. I want my daughters to run this place!” she said.

De Francisco envisions Boavida being a part of the community. She has plans to expand into a wine bar and possibly hosting yoga classes and other events in the cozy, sunlit space. She is enthusiastic about the relationship she is building with her customers. 

“I always knew what a great community the Sunset was, but I have been blown away by the community since we opened. I tried to open quietly, but the neighborhood came out in full force!” she said. 

As a timer beeps, pulling her back into the kitchen, and as one of her staff pulls the door shut to block out the sounds of road construction, de Francisco smiles and waves her arm around her cafe. 

“This is me,” she said.

Boavida Cafe and Market is located at 3560 Taraval St., at 46th Avenue. Current hours are Wednesday through Friday, 7 a.m-3 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., with plans to expand hours in the spring of 2020. For more information, visit http://www.boavidasf.com or call (415) 702-6262.

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