by Luke Tsai
Good news for fans of seemingly short-lived Adams Point newcomer Kitchen 388: After an abrupt four-month hiatus, the popular breakfast-and-lunch spot is set to reopen, with dinner-only service starting next Wednesday, May 2.
Joseph Dunbar, a veteran of the Bay Area’s private-chef circuit, opened the cafe last June with little fanfare, but it quickly emerged as a neighborhood favorite. Dunbar’s menu featured straightforward comfort fare: egg dishes, sandwiches, and baked goods — everything from-scratch, seasonal, you know the drill.
The food was good. After an initially lukewarm experience last fall, Express critic Jesse Hirsch was won over by a pulled pork sandwich and silky carrot-orange soup. Meanwhile, I consider myself a fan of pastry chef Alicia Toyooka’s flaky-crusted homemade pop tarts — I almost certainly would have featured them in my list of best budget-conscious desserts, had the restaurant not closed suddenly.
So about that: At the end of December, just as the cafe was starting to hit its stride, Dunbar and his staff closed up shop and disappeared. The first of a series of notes posted on the door informed customers that Kitchen 388 was closed for the holidays and would reopen on January 2. But January 2 turned into the end of January, which turned into maybe sometime in March.
When a final message went up alluding to an illness in the family, I figured, well, that was that. More than three months had passed, and we've all heard about the razor-thin margins for first-time restaurateurs. Still, I’d regularly see other would-be pop tart buyers peering into the restaurant, looking forlorn, their faces pressed up against the glass.
As it turns out, Dunbar himself was the one who was sick and wound up spending an entire month in the hospital. But when I bumped into the chef in front of his restaurant last week, he was looking chipper.
“We’re back,” he said, declining to discuss the details of his illness except to assure me that he was “on the up and up.”