Jesse Cool

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


Oysterette is new dining option at Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series spotlighting the special features of local restaurants that may not be obvious or well-known. If you think one of your favorite Menlo Park restaurants qualifies, please email us at tips[a] While not an employment criteria, there does seem to be a trend for servers and chefs […]

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We stopped in at Flea St. Cafe last week, just a couple days after the restaurant celebrated its 36th anniversary. That’s one long run for a restaurant that, as founder/co-owner Jesse Cool writes, took root in “an unlikely neighborhood just outside of the city of Menlo Park, in the county of San Mateo, on an […]

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Jesse Cool and Mitchell Johnson share art, food and admiration for each other

Think of them as bookending the stretch of the Alameda in Menlo Park between Sharon and Walsh roads. One a restaurateur feeding the body. The other a painter feeding the soul. Jesse Cool, owner of Flea Street Cafe, and artist Mitchell Johnson are joined together in what has been a mutually beneficial partnership for about five years with the […]

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Things are peachy at Cool Café in Menlo Business Park

The Cool Café located on O’Brien Street in the Menlo Business Park is undoubtedly the most hidden of restauranteur and cookbook author Jesse Cool’s food “empire,” which includes the Flea Street Cafe in Menlo Park and an additional Cool Café at the Cantor Arts Center on the Stanford campus. But it’s the place she’s chosen to turn all […]

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Gillian’s end of summer picks: Chilled soups made with Webb Ranch’s corn and Ace tomatoes

Editor’s note: Atherton resident Gillian Bostock is not only a talented, serious-amateur chef, she’s also an accomplished photographer. This is the last in her series of great summer recipes. This week I’ve chosen two chilled soups to highlight the Ace tomatoes and white corn grown at Webb Ranch in Portola Valley. Undoubtedly, the bountiful pile […]

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Family fun at Swing in the Park this Sunday (9/19)

Sunday’s Swing in the Park fundraiser for Holbrook-Palmer Park in Atherton appears to have it all – BBQ picnic courtesy of Jesse Cool, swinging music thank to the Unicorns, plus games and activities for children and adults. Add to that list a live and silent auction and raffle. All proceeds benefit the Park. The event […]

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Jesse Cool – Menlo Park’s food matriarch

Can it be true?  Jesse Cool’s Flea Street Cafe – founded on the principles of local and organic – has been around since 1981, a very long life in restaurant terms. “It’s fabulously busy,” Cool exclaimed on a recent Saturday night. “We’re very, very lucky.” The almost 30 years haven’t always been easy for the […]

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