"I wasn't offered a lease that would allow me to continue," said Barbara Young, an Alamo resident, who has owned the Courtyard Cafe for the last 14 years. She was a silent partner for six years before that.
"I've had wonderful customers for over 20 years," Young said. "I've had wonderful staff that makes everyone feel welcome. They've made the restaurant feel like home. I'm sorry it can't continue."
After hearing the news, regular customers began streaming in to enjoy a last meal and chat one more time with the friendly staff. Many came bearing flowers or remembrances.
The customers have indeed felt like it was home. One, who makes birdhouses, created a miniature replica of the Courtyard Cafe, which perched on the wall in front of the open kitchen. Another made the restaurant a new countertop when he retired, said Young.
Courtyard Cafe was the homey type of place where people could enjoy a repast by themselves at the counter or come to enjoy a leisurely meal and conversation with friends or families.
Last Friday morning, Beverly and Arlen Ness were enjoying breakfast at a table overlooking the courtyard and chatting with the waitress.
"Ten years ago we lived in Castro Valley and a friend of ours brought us here," said Arlen Ness.
Since moving to Alamo they have been coming to the Courtyard Cafe four times a week, walking from their home on Las Trampas.
"We're so disappointed," said Beverly Ness about the closing.
"We were looking forward to sitting outside," she added, looking out at the patio where a fountain tinkled and wrought iron patio furniture waited for the warm weather and the customers.
Young has no plans to open another restaurant, she said, but customers wanted to leave their contact information in case she does. By Saturday afternoon, two legal pads were filled with names and addresses.
Anyone who wants to be added to the list can send their information to the Courtyard Cafe, 3195 Danville Blvd., Alamo 94507, and the mail will be forwarded, said Young.
Meanwhile a lease has been signed by Rodney and Natalie Worth, owners of the Peasant & the Pear restaurant in Danville. The new restaurant will be named the Peasant's Courtyard and will be open all day, seven days a week, and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
"I'm really excited. I've been developing a menu for the last couple of weeks," said Rodney Worth, who was named Best Chef of 2008 by Diablo Magazine. "We've brought in some of our good customers and tried out the menu."
He said the Peasant's Courtyard will be a "California bistro," more casual than his Danville restaurant and more family-oriented.
"We will have gourmet sandwiches, all organic products and California grass-fed meats," he said. "It'll be a reasonable price, with sandwiches at $10."
He said he used to eat at the Courtyard Cafe once a week and will keep his favorite dish – the linguisa spinach omelet.
"We'll have a nice wine list," he added. "We'll sell 10 wines by the glass, and have about 20 bottles, mostly California, Napa Valley."
He is also planning live music in the courtyard on weekends.
The Peasant & the Pear general manager Stephen Patrick said Worth had been keeping an eye open for another location to open a restaurant, considering Walnut Creek, Pleasanton or Jack London Square. Then he was approached a few months ago by Robert Burgess, one of three managing members of Alamo Courtyard LLC, about the Courtyard Cafe location.
"Robert contacted us and said the lease was up and somebody was going to go in there," said Patrick. "He thought we would be a good fit for the community."