The Story of The Lightbox Café
As with many good stories, this one starts with a chance encounter in November 2019.
With an offering of delicious banana bread, we had hoped to persuade the managers of the DocuSign Building to hire our catering business for any upcoming events they might have.
So imagine our surprise when they asked if we had any interest in opening a restaurant on the ground floor which had been unexpectedly vacated by a delicatessen before the end of its lease.
“Sure,” we said, with all the confidence we could muster while recognizing the risks and rewards of such a daunting endeavor.
“Oh, and we need it up and running in three months.”
Yikes. Three months might sound like a lot of time, but the space was a mess. Demo and a complete build-out were required with all-new kitchen equipment.
Thus the scramble began – and we’re not talking eggs.
What was going to be the restaurant’s name and brand identity?
Thankfully we had a brilliant brand guru on the team (– full disclosure, I’m the one writing this) who took one look at the two-story space with the glass front and declared with admirable alliteration, “Looks like a large lightbox to me.” The logo and tagline For Enlightened Food Lovers quickly followed.
Wonderful, we all thought – we’re on a roll to launch at the beginning of March. What could possibly go wrong?
Turns out, quite a lot.
Like the virus itself, the news of COVID-19 came upon us stealthily like a thief in the night. Then came the lockdown. And the news reports of fatalities and the risks of infection.
It didn’t take an expert to tell us that launching a new restaurant during a pandemic was not a good idea.
What to do?
Well, giving up was not an option. The crisis was going to slow us down, but it was not going to bring us to a complete halt.
Work and meetings continued, mostly remotely with an occasional face-to-face (or rather mask-to-mask) when absolutely necessary with lots of sanitizer available.
In May the interior tables, created from just three Marin redwood trees, blew everyone away when they arrived and lifted everyone’s spirits.
The business model had to evolve though with greater focus on outdoor dining, pick-up and delivery due to the continuing need for masks & social distancing.
Finally August arrived. With most of the hard work done, it was time for a soft opening, which happened on the 17th.
But then, just as business started to grow, the wildfires began all over California bringing smoke and misery to our fair city, forcing us to go on temporary hiatus from October 5th.
We will re-open when things get back to “normal,” and when that happens, you’ll be able to enjoy our delicious food again – including the banana bread that started it all!