You don’t have to look any further than the Kate’s Kitchen Facebook page to get a sense of the immense love owner Hasan Khader has for his clientele and the San Francisco community at large. And clearly, they love him back. He keeps the page updated with photos of smiling customers, and the reviews mention him by name.
Khader founded the cafe back in 1993 when he was just twenty-three years old, taking over what had been a different breakfast joint for some fifty years before then. He named it Kate’s after one of the chef’s newborn babies.
Khader paid his dues working under excellent chefs and in pizza and sandwich shops in Pacifica. But when he started Kate’s, he found it difficult to get people to take him seriously because of his age.
Luckily, he quickly proved those doubters wrong.
His cozy cafe in the Lower Haight neighborhood serves comforting, hearty breakfast and lunch in large portions. It’s been featured in Eater, The Culture Trip, and The Bold Italic as one of the top brunch places in the city.
“My two kids have basically grown up in this restaurant and now they are both college graduates,” Khader said proudly. “They don’t want to get into the restaurant business, and honestly, I don’t blame them.”
Like many restaurants nowadays, Kate’s is just barely getting by. Khader estimates he is at 10-15% of usual sales and is struggling to cover the water, electric, and other bills.
“If this thing goes on any longer, I’m not sure I can stay in business,” he admitted.
The famous hashes, scrambles, wraps, pancakes, french toast, and sandwiches are available on DoorDash, but the commission that goes to the app takes a large chunk out of profits.
“I understand that people who are farther away might have to use delivery, but if possible, I say, ‘Come on in!’ I really enjoy building relationships with customers.”
And the relationships he builds in the community are rock-solid. Some of Khader’s regulars have been coming to Kate’s for 25 years. They often make appearances on the Facebook page and others share old photos of themselves at the restaurant to reminisce.
“All of my regulars have been very supportive. They come whenever they can and give great tips.”
Kate’s might be most famous for its bacon-cheddar pancakes, which were once a shared favorite of Larry Smith and Piper Kerman, about whom Netflix’s Orange is the New Black is based. You can read more about how the two met at Kate’s in Larry’s Medium essay here.
Although things are rocky right now for the iconic eatery, Khader remains hopeful: “It’s going to take time, but we’re going to win this war and return to the lives we were leading before.”
He understands that money is an issue right now, but asks that locals come visit even just once a month. “Don’t forget us. Without your loyalty, we wouldn’t have been able to stay in business for this long. I want to thank everyone for that.”
When asked if he would like readers to know anything else, he added, “I love you all.”