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Food & Drink

Thai restaurant to replace beloved San Francisco Italian joint

A new Thai restaurant will replace Mescolanza at 3750 Geary Blvd. in San Francisco’s Richmond District. | Source: Google Streetview

For more than three decades, Mescolanza in the Richmond District was a neighborhood staple, serving up crowd-pleasing Italian dishes like housemade sweet potato gnocchi and linguine al pesto that have filled hungry stomachs on Christmas Eve and impressed local foodies.   

With carnations on the tables and wine bottles stacked in wooden racks against the walls, Mescolanza was the kind of unpretentious local restaurant that’s hard to find in San Francisco these days. Earlier this month, the family-run restaurant announced that it was closing due to rising costs. Its last dinner service was Saturday night.

“I feel like we’re going to be missed in the Richmond District, and I’ll be sad,” said Mescolanza’s owner, Ruben Macedo. 

Plans for a new restaurant in Mescolanza’s space at 3750 Geary Blvd. are already in the works. Business owner Pam Nanthawan Kumtongkum confirmed with The Standard that she intends to open a new Thai establishment called Oraan Thai Eatery in about mid-September and has already applied for a license to sell beer and wine. The restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.  

Kumtongkum said she knows Mescolanza will be a tough act to follow, but she hopes the restaurant will be a gathering place for the community. 

Macedo, 59, said in addition to a significant rent increase, sourcing ingredients from Italy had become very costly. 

Macedo worked his way up in the restaurant business after starting as a janitor at a restaurant in the Marina shortly after immigrating from Mexico in the early 1980s. He took over as Mescolanza’s chef in the early 1990s and bought the restaurant in 1998, turning it into a family operation with his wife. 

In 2015, Macedo relocated Mescolanza from Clement Street to Geary Boulevard after losing his lease, but he said loyal patrons followed thanks to Mescolanza’s reputation as a charming neighborhood Italian joint with good food at affordable prices. 

“Please keep Ruben and the team at Mescolanza in your thoughts and prayers,” said Richard Corriea, a former police captain and Richmond District native, in a recent “eulogy” for shuttered local businesses. Merchants last week staged a mock funeral to protest proposed transit improvements by the city. Business owners said the project would hurt local businesses, which are still struggling in the wake of the pandemic, but the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved the plan last Tuesday.    

Macedo said he managed to keep Mescolanza afloat through the Covid shutdown thanks to a steady stream of to-go orders from local residents. 

“It was a huge support from regulars,” he said. “We got all kinds of help.”

In its place, Kumtongkum plans to serve cuisine from her native Thailand with a modern twist. She moved to the Bay Area five years ago to study for an MBA and has worked in the restaurant and hospitality industries. 

Macedo, for his part, said he’s considering opening a smaller, leaner operation, offering private dinner service or going into catering. 

“Mescolanza’s brand will stay with us, the family,” he said.