Nini’s Cafe in San Mateo goes on sale, in hopes that a new owner will keep the spirit alive in the revered restaurant that has served patrons at 1000 N. Idaho St. since 1968.
The Peninsula Institution on the San Mateo and Burlingame border, near Highway 101, has been closed since the March 2020 pandemic. Owner Rick Swartz has run the business since 1973 after taking over from his mother, Nini, and his father, Wally. The unique cafe has an L-shaped room with memorabilia covering the walls built over many years. A menu that Swartz painted in his garage and repainted with new prices is highlighted, while popular hot dishes and items like omelets, fries and cookies with gravy were customer favorites.
Broker Greg Cohn, of Coldwell Banker Commercial, said Swartz was putting two buildings up for sale. The 1000 N. Idaho St. location is home to Nini and includes a three-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment and is listed at approximately $ 2.5 million. A neighboring warehouse at 1006 N. Idaho St. will be listed at approximately $ 1.9 million.
âWe hope someone wants to recreate what Rick once had,â Cohn said.
The property is expected to hit the market on Monday July 12. Cohn noted that Swartz owns both properties and is for sale separately, but Swartz would like to sell both to the same person. Cohn said the highest and best use of the property when sold would be to continue to hold Nini’s home in some form or another.
Swartz wrote a story about Nini’s Coffee Shop, called “Blink of an Eye”, describing how his parents, in their early years, dreamed of opening a restaurant and being their own bosses after meeting in a restaurant in San Francisco where they both worked. They were lucky when they opened their dream restaurant in 1955 on 19th Avenue and Randolph Street in San Francisco, with Swartz and his sister helping from a young age. Her parents opened their second restaurant in San Francisco in 1962 on 18th and Bryant streets. They then bought the property at their current location in San Mateo, described by Swartz as Nini’s number three.
When the family bought Nini’s, at the time, it was a combination of groceries and cold cuts that the family converted into a cafe. Nini’s has become known for their hot lunch options and great food, service and portions. Swartz had originally planned to follow friends to work for the fire department before taking over in 1973 due to his parents’ health, and he has been part of Nini’s management ever since. Over the years, the store has been special to him, his family and his employees, filled with keepsakes, keepsakes and images that tell stories about his family and the community.
Swartz said the secret to Nini’s success was not just the food, but the spirit and belief that everyone who walked into Nini was just as important to him and his dedicated and dedicated employees. All he could do was thank the thousands of loyal customers who walked through Nini’s doors and for all these years of love and support.
People have been calling Cohn non-stop ever since a sign hung in front of Nini’s announcement for his next sale. Many have called to express their interest in the property and the business or to express their sadness at the closure of an iconic place that has served people for generations.
âIt’s another one of those mom and pop businesses that might never come back because of what happened during COVID,â Cohn said.
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