It’s not an eviction. It’s not a forced displacement. It’s not the owner cashing out to turn the building into a glass-and-chrome wonderland for crypto guys. Ali Baba’s Cave is just closing, is all.
Mission Local reports that the 36-year-old Mission Mediterranean restaurant will shutter this Saturday, June 29, as longtime owner Husein Dawah retires. There were some economic pressures, however, as Dawah believed his shop needed a renovation that he likely couldn’t afford. Born into a large family in a refugee camp after the war following the establishment of Israel, he immigrated to the United States in 1980 hoping to be an engineer and wound up running his own business, as so many immigrants do. Fast-forward to the present day, when the ever-churning Valencia is home to a more moneyed demographic and falafel sandwiches and tabbouleh have become commonplace.
Ali Baba’s Cave began on Haight Street, a location that closed in 2011. Eight years later, Dawah is winding down completely — although he’s selling to people who promise to open another Eastern Mediterranean restaurant in its place. In the meantime, the sign in the in the window reads, in part, “I love you all. … You are a part of my history. I will never forget you. Keep us in your memory. IT’S TIME FOR RETIREMENT!”
Read the entire Mission Local piece for an in-depth look at some history at the corner of 19th and Valencia.
Ali Baba’s Cave, 799 Valencia St.,