Menlo Mainstays

Jesse Cool has a new partner at Flea Street Cafe — and the face is very familiar. Michael Biesemeyer worked for long periods of time over the past decade at the Menlo Park restaurant.

“I’ve been hoping to find a partner for a few years,” explained Jesse. “I made a few attempts with chefs, but that did not work out. In signing a 10-year lease extension — and already 38 years into the business — I knew I needed help to both maintain the core history and values of Flea Street, and to support me as operations become more challenging at my age.

“My youngest son, Jonah, looked at me and said, ‘Mom, it is not a chef you need as a partner, it is Michael Biesemeyer, he is the perfect partner for you and Flea Street.'”

Michael was a captain/server and the most respected employee by both staff and customers, according to Jesse. She also characterizes him as a solid family man and a lifetime professional in the food industry.

Knowing that he was working at Protege, a new restaurant in Palo Alto, Jesse emailed him to see if he was interested. She got a quick “Let’s have coffee,” from Michael in return.  He was soon named the new Managing Partner.

“As our guests learn that Michael is my new business partner, the response has been joyful and happy for us both,” Jesse said. “It warms my heart. I am relieved to know that Michael will continue our core values while also collaborating with our chef, who also shares our values. We can remain true to who we are for another 10 years — or more!”

In Michael’s view, Flea Street is a unique restaurant with a deep history with the community. “Jesse is an original, a pioneer in farm-to-table,” he said. “She created a restaurant that knows its values to its core. It’s the kind of restaurant that doesn’t try hard to be what it is — it just is.”

Initially, Michael is working on building the private dining part of the business and accommodating larger groups, up to 20. The outdoor area will be further weatherized.

“There have been many iterations of Flea Street and people keep giving us a chance,” he said. “We’re dedicated to meeting their expectations year after year.”

Photo by Scott R. Kline (c) 2018


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