Closed-down Café McBryde aims for a comeback

by Zach Chouteau

Richmond’s Café McBryde, a well-liked local eatery since the 1980s, is striving toward a reopening following a forced closure by Contra Costa County in May.

The trouble began for new owner Denise Ruff after five months of smooth sailing following her purchase of the business last August. Her fresh ownership required updated permits; and while everything went well with approval from the city’s Fire Department and Building Department, Ruff says the Contra Costa County’s Health Department required a massive update of the venue’s kitchen and plumbing, among other improvements. The existing facilities had previously been ‘grandfathered’ into receiving approval, but the change of ownership prompted the need for an overhaul.

With the required upgrades mandated, Café McBryde was forced to close in mid-May of this year. Ruff put together a blueprinted plan and submitted it to the city on June 27, but cannot move forward with the revamp until she gets their green light. She told the Standard she is still awaiting approval and that the project should only take two weeks once she is given the go-ahead.

In the meantime, Ruff—a longtime waitress who finally chased the dream of opening her own restaurant— is paying for the lease on the building and trying to patiently keep things afloat. She and her husband have been forced to tap into his retirement account, and she says daughter Kylie Ruff even began a GoFundMe effort to try and raise $1K.

“Right now we’re just going to keep fighting,” Denise Ruff said. “The customers really keep me motivated, and it’s going to be amazing when we reopen.”

Café McBryde is located at 4925 McBryde Ave. just east of San Pablo Ave.