Former Atelier Crenn Sous Chef Frank Gama to Open New Restaurant in Ocean Beach Cafe Space


In the fall of 2021, Frank Gama was walking through the morning fog of Ocean Beach, thinking a cafe would be the perfect complement to the cool gray. He came across Joshua James’ Ocean Beach Cafe in its early days. James always took care of the non-alcoholic coffee and, much to Gama’s disappointment, there wasn’t much in the way of coffee. But there was a spark of friendship between the two, and an idea began to flow between them.

More than six months later, James has decided to sell his business to Gama, which will close Ocean Beach Cafe and reopen as a new restaurant in the coming months. The new business plan is still being finalized, but Gama says it will be a hybrid breakfast and lunch restaurant with a focus on health and wellness. The two announced the decision on Instagram on April 1.

James feels excited about his departure and looks forward to focusing on his job as a promoter of the burgeoning soft drink scene in the Bay Area. “I’m leaving on a high note,” James said. “I had someone in a unique position to take over the property. I’m not in this world to make lattes right now. There is a lot to do in the [non-alcoholic beverage] world.” James is still building his alcohol-free speakeasy, which will be a kind of headquarters for his future projects. He also recently wrapped production a documentary, Conscious drinker, and feels he must promote it. James plans to continue consulting on soft drink programs for businesses and says he generally needed to free up his time for his growing litany of projects.

Gama, for his part, has had a long career in gastronomy and will bring a lot of experience to the new restaurant. Gama says he began his career as a seasonal chef at Bohemian Grove, San Francisco’s top-secret private club, before a stint as sous chef at Atelier Crenn in 2019, when he was ranked 35th best. in the world on the World’s 50 Best list. He then worked as a sous chef at Sorrel; at Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale, Arizona; and more recently at Bohemian Grove in San Francisco.

Gama’s first pop-up dinner party at the Ocean Beach Cafe in March was a big hit, says James. Gama cooked the meal at his home and offered four courses with six or seven non-alcoholic pairings by James for $85. “It was the dream; it was super awesome,” says James. It went so well that the two held another event a Sunday later. It was then that Gama made James “an offer he couldn’t refuse” and the change of ownership was decided.

Gama says he is thrilled with the challenge. He’s been living in Nob Hill since returning to San Francisco in August to “be in the culinary hub.” He grew up in Watsonville and knows many organic farms that will be central to his cooking and menu. A sense of “hyper-seasonality and community” will be fundamental to his new restaurant, he says. “I’m not here to compete with anyone,” Gama says. “I want to be in community with everyone. Rising tides lift all ships.


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