About 220 people gathered for a buffet dinner at the Woodside Bakery & Cafe on March 15 to say goodbye and thanks as the restaurant closed its doors that night for the last time in Woodside.
The chefs, who know a thing or two about cooking for a crowd, seemed busier than usual behind the counter. They refilled trays of ravioli, calamari, crab cakes, skewered shrimp, Penne Sylvia and more. Co-owners (and siblings) Mark and Jan Sweyer walked and talked through the restaurant and patio as they said goodbye.
The bakery display cases were open for anyone who had room inside for dessert after choosing from among the appetizers. The chilled drinks case was also open; pick out whatever you want. "Everything must go!" said the waiter serving wine and beer on the patio when asked if it was an "Everything must go" type of event.
"I think it's a big loss, a major loss for the community, a friendly place for the community to gather," said Woodside resident Jack Ritter sitting at a table inside. "A way to get together every morning and laugh about yourself and others and not talk politics. ... I think it'll take away from the flavor of the community."
The property at 3052 Woodside Road is owned by the Roberts family, which owns the surrounding complex of shops and restaurants, including Bucks of Woodside, as well as the Roberts Market grocery stores in Woodside and Portola Valley. The Roberts family initially set a vacate deadline for Woodside Bakery of Jan. 15, according to the Sweyers, but later allowed a two-month extension.
"It was a place to feel away from civilization, but still have enough civilization to feel comfortable," said Chris Dahlstrom, who came to the closing event. He said he would stop in at the Woodside Bakery on his way to and from nearby Huddart Park, where he worked at an outdoor survival school.
"This is kind of bittersweet," said Ken Woodrow of Woodside. "It's a loss to the community, a place where people felt good getting together and eating.
Co-owner Jan Sweyer mingled with well-wishers in the familiar semi-darkness at the corner of the counter. "It's good to go out with happiness," she said.
"You gave us so much," said Nancy Sammann of Portola Valley as she gave Ms. Sweyer a hug. The cafe and bakery was "the heartbeat of Woodside," Ms. Sammann added in an aside to the Almanac.
The Sweyers have said that they will be opening a wholesale bakery in Menlo Park sometime in April, and Pastor Ama Zenya of the Woodside Village Church said she has plans to serve Woodside Bakery pastries, along with gourmet coffee, at morning community get-togethers, perhaps Monday through Saturday, in the church courtyard a few hundred yards to the west at 3154 Woodside Road.
"It was such a perfect evening," Ms. Sweyer said, "and I'm so glad we chose to end the Woodside Bakery's long love affair with the town on such a high note. A real 'love-in,' wasn't it?"