Oakland’s iconic Mama’s Royal Cafe reopens with new management

Sherry Cooper, a server for more than 35 years at Mama's Royal Cafe in Oakland on Feb. 21, 2014, shows off her collection of aprons that she displays and changes according to the season. The cafe recently changed management, but Cooper remains -- as does the apron collection. (Laura A. Oda/Staff archives)

OAKLAND — Oakland’s diner darling Mama’s Royal Cafe at 4012 Broadway has reopened after a month-long closure under new management.

Longtime owner George Marino sold the 40-year-old restaurant to Soroush and Houshi Ghaderi, and the two brothers have said they’ve been striving to keep most things the same for the restaurant’s dedicated customer base.

“We saw this was up for sale, looked into it, and we really liked the food here,” Soroush said. He and his brother are best known as owners of The Vault Cafe on Adeline Street in Berkeley. While the two have joint ownership over Mama’s Royal Cafe, Soroush will be the new manager.

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The restaurant is known for its high quality yet quick service food, its quirky interior décor — and the annual napkin art contest.

Soroush Ghaderi said that though Mama’s Royal Cafe has changed ownership, he didn’t feel like there was much that needed fixing, so most of the changes he’s implemented have been in bringing the restaurant up to health department standards and modernizing the payment system – changes that most customers won’t really notice.

Sherry Cooper, a server for more than 35 years at Mama’s Royal Cafe in Oakland on Feb. 21, 2014, shows off her collection of aprons that she displays and changes according to the season. The cafe recently changed management, but Cooper remains — as does the apron collection. (Laura A. Oda/Staff archives)

“I didn’t want to affect the food — it’s fantastic and the atmosphere and ambience, too,” he said.

Most of the cooking staff, including the head chef, have stayed on during the management transition, and the Ghaderis don’t plan on making any dramatic menu changes.

Things that customers may noticed have changed since its reopening on Nov. 24 is the absence of the long counter. The counter has been taken out and replaced by tables, and a smaller counter toward the back of the restaurant allows for easier access for to-go orders. The vintage apron collection still remains, as does the “avocado table,” a favorite among regulars.

And veteran waitress and Mama’s Royal Cafe fixture Sherry Cooper remains.

“We’d just like to keep the culture of these kinds of businesses alive,” Houshi Ghaderi said. “These kinds of places are part of the whole Bay Area culture, and I hope this just stays around for a while.”

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Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

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