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Café del Soul, May Lee’s and Starbucks Reopen After Cockroach Infestation

The businesses were given a clean bill of health last week, but at least one is struggling to keep its customers coming.

After battling an infestation of German cockroaches, Café del Soul, May Lee’s Chinese Cuisine and Starbucks, have reopened for business in the 247 Shoreline Highway shopping plaza.

David Smail, health inspector supervisor at Marin County Environmental Health Services, visited the premises on Oct. 31 and ordered that the three establishments be temporarily shut down until the roaches were exterminated. 

Café del Soul, which initially called the health department on itself, said after an extensive four-day treatment, Smail visited the shops on Monday, Nov. 5 and gave them the okay to reopen on Nov. 6.

The cockroaches may be gone but so, too, are the customers – at least at the organic café.

“We’re pretty much we’re doing everything we can to survive,” said Café del Soul manager Sandro De Oliveira.

Business has been slow, and employees' hours have been cut in half. Many people don’t know they’ve reopened, he said, and the ones who do may have been scared away. Some of the more loyal customers have even been sending in donations through PayPal.

“Someone steps up and says we will fight for the truth and do it the right way, and it feels like you’re being penalized,” De Oliveira said.

Plaza owner Charlie Elquare said Café del Soul has indeed been the hardest business hit in terms of its customer base.

“I would hope the community is not afraid to come back and see on their own how the shopping center looks,” Elquare said. “I invite them to come back and see for themselves.”

As for cleanup efforts, he said he hired a pest control company to treat the entire building. Each business also had an exterminator treat their own space, along with continued treatments to make sure the roaches don’t come back.

“They were able to knock them out pretty quickly,” Elquare said. “It seems like everything is clear, and we’re in a good place.”

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Matt Bianco November 15, 2012 at 11:39 PM
May Lee's serves sushi! That can't be nice.
Rico November 16, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I think just the fact that these buildings have been dosed with pesticides has scared people away for a awhile. While most restaurants do have chemicals sprayed on a regular basis, as well as use other chemicals to clean like ammonia, most people don't want to be reminded of it. If the media would give this story a rest, perhaps business will pick up again. Operating a restaurant is a very tough business, and I have read that often times it takes 10 years to build up the clientele and reputation before the business turns profitable. Many restaurants fail after only a year or 2. It takes a lot of investment capital to operate in the red for many years.
kawiman November 16, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Weird though, even before the cockroach scare that place was always empty. It's just not very inviting, as the windows are always steamed up.
Cathy Rosekrans November 17, 2012 at 08:58 PM
WOW, I LOVE CAFE DEL SOUL and so do my post-college grad daughter and her friends. When I've come at lunchtime, it is so packed. I've just never seen it empty, even last weekend when I introduced some fellow hikers to the place. It IS true that the type of patron attracted to Cafe del Soul does not want to think "pesticides". However, Cafe did the right thing by getting the issue taken care of, and if we want to continue to have really healthy, great food in Mill Valley, we need to keep eating there. I thought for sure you would say that it was Mai Lees - where I hardly ever see customers. Does Cafe Del Soul just pay alot more rent? On that note, CAFE, WE LOVE YOU, so if this issue doesn't die, please just move and keep on keeping on. Maybe to 2nd Breakfast location now vacant?

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