Cassava is a neighborhood restaurant that serves modern California cuisine and serves San Francisco’s Outer Richmond district as a community gathering place. Yuka Ioroi is the Owner/General Manager and her husband Kristoffer Toliao is the Owner/Executive Chef: “Opening a restaurant was the natural evolution of both of our careers,” explains Yuka. Kristoffer’s expertise as a chef and Yuka’s expertise in business has made their business grow successfully since they launched in March 2012.
Cassava started small and grew organically over five years. Now with 17 employees, Cassava has been written up by the San Francisco Chronicle and was nominated by Eater SF as one of the Top 38 Essential San Francisco Restaurants. They prioritize working with local distributors for everything from the seaweed you find in their Japanese breakfast to the fish and beef on their dinner menu. Cassava has received a lot of great recognition for their incredible menus and wonderful atmosphere (click here to read some of their great reviews).
In 2018, Yuka and Kristoffer received a loan from Main Street Launch to refinance their business debt. “We grew the business ourselves without investors or a lot of capital, so our debt payments were really high each month. With the loan, we were able to lower our monthly payment by 75%, keeping more cash in the business to support our growth,” says Yuka.
“I learned about Main Street Launch’s loan program through the Mayor’s newsletter, and it came at exactly the right time. Without the money, we wouldn’t have been able to sustain the business for another year. Main Street Launch’s staff worked with us around the clock, and we got a lot of coaching to support us through the process,” remembers Yuka.
Yuka and Kristoffer have learned a lot by building their business. “My advice is to start within your means. We invested in five years what some businesses spend just to start up, but that has allowed us to grow sustainably,” says Yuka.
Cassava has an amazing 4 course tasting menu for $42 – a great deal anywhere. Their Japanese breakfast was just name the best weekday breakfast by San Francisco Magazine. Whatever meal you come for, you’ll find something delicious. Check out their website to learn more.