When Maria Hines revealed she intends to open a third restaurant, Agrodolce, the chef and restaurateur said she was scouting Fremont—specifically, 709 North 35th Street, currently home to 35th Street Bistro.
At the time of Hines's announcement, Bistro owners Mason and Michelle Citarello had yet to announce plans for closing the restaurant. Now from Michelle comes the official word: The duo will serve their final meal on November 29.
As any dedicated restaurateur would, Michelle shares this news with a heavy heart. "I'd been struggling with it for a while," she says of the decision to close. But as a mother of an 11-year old and a two-year-old, with a third child on the way, she felt it was time to focus more on family and less on French food.
One of the most difficult parts of all this is having to part with her staff members, many of whom have been with the restaurant for years and could be considered family in their own right. "It's a neat little dynamic we have here," says Michelle. "It'll be sad to let them go." Indeed, the bistro has served as a home away from home since February 2009, when the couple assumed ownership. Michelle fondly recalls toting one of her kids in a Baby Bjorn while prepping an evening's plates.
35th Street Bistro opened in 2004 under Bob Day; before that it was the beloved Still Life Cafe. Both Mason and Michelle are half Italian, and though the culture "is a huge part" of them, they forwent their interest in Italian cuisine and maintained the Provençal-inspired place Day had created. They stuck with that vision throughout the years, the only major change coming in the form of an interior overhaul in April.
Though she's looking forward to laying low for a while with her kids, Michelle anticipates being back in the kitchen within several years (Mason is currently a chef with Nordstrom). For her next act she says she may very well tap that Italian heritage. And if it isn't a pasteria she opens, it'll likely revolve around another interest of hers: baking.