MARIN COUNTY -- Cafe del Soul, an organic restaurant in Southern Marin's Tamalpais Junction, says its mission is "to give every person who walks through our doors a sense of feeling better than they did before."
You wouldn't think customers would feel a whole lot better than they did before reading a sign that the owner has voluntarily put up near the cafe's front door, informing them that the restaurant is infested with German cockroaches.
"The owner decided, if I can't tell the truth to my customers, then why have a restaurant," said manager Sandro De Oliveira.
For their part, customers have been surprised that a restaurant would be so open about something so unappetizing.
"I was stunned because I've been a customer for a while and I know how much energy they put into putting out a good product and being ethical and doing the right thing," said patron Amelia Beamer.
Oddly enough, she has not been repulsed by the thought of roaches in a restaurant and plans to continue eating there.
"I'm a bit surprised about how un-fussed I am about it," she said. "Cafes have roaches, restaurants have problems. It's not like I haven't seen a bug in my own house."
In their campaign for full disclosure, the folks at Cafe del Soul went so far as to report themselves to the county environmental health services department.
"That hardly ever happens," said supervising health inspector Dave Smail. "We'll get an inspector over to see what's going on."
Cafe del Soul is closing for a day on Wednesday so its pest control company can do a "flush" treatment to try to stem the infestation, which first began in May.
Located at 247 Shoreline Highway, the cafe is one of eight tenants in a strip mall shopping center. Each tenant is responsible for its own pest control, and at least one other business has also reported a cockroach problem. Cafe del Soul fears that there are roaches in the walls throughout the entire complex, and the infestation won't be alleviated until the entire shopping center is treated.
They say they reported this to the building owner and property manager, Charlie Elqare, months ago, but he neglected to do anything, forcing them to inform their customers of the infestation, putting pressure on him to act.
"We keep fighting and informing him," De Oliveira said. "But he has closed his eyes and let it happen."
Elqare denies the accusation, accusing Cafe del Soul of "trying to pass the buck."
"I'm following up with my pest control company and the pest control company of each tenant," he said. "We have to treat all the affected areas and stay on top of it. It needs to be solved and that's what we're doing."
Contact Paul Liberatore via email at email@example.com