Brother, on an inspired whim, called Gumbah's number today. And to his great surprise and delight, as well as mine, they answered. They're open again, under yet another new owner. Needless to say, we had to hot-foot it right on over there for lunch.
Here's what we've learned so far:
The place has been open again for a little over a week now, since Nov 17. The new owner, who is a former customer from the neighborhood, made certain before buying that he could retain the old recipes, previous provisioners (Hudson's in Petaluma, I'm told), and the same cook. The idea, once again, is to leave the food unchanged, since that's been the basis of the business for 23+ years.
Some minor remodeling has been undertaken, and the eating area is a little less cluttered than before. The kitchen has been spruced up a bit, with new stainless steel panels on the walls. The kitchen seems less crowded than before, and appears to be a bit more organized. And sparkling, shiny bright.
But you want to know about the food, and especially the Italian Beef, right?
Brother had the Italian beef combo, so I tried the cheesesteak. We shared an order of fries and one of onion rings. It's early days yet, but the combo was back in all its delicious, drippy glory, just as before. Even the old familiar, house-made giardiniera was there. Yes folks, Gumbah's is well and truly back.
The cheesesteak was very like its prior second incarnation, though if anything, cheesier. Fries were immediately recognizable as the same crispy shoestrings that Gumbah's has long served. Onion rings were the only disappointment, being somewhat underdone and a bit doughy. To be perfectly frank, though, these were never Gumbah's strong suit.
There are a few items on the menu that aren't available just yet --the pizza and the meatball sandwich notable among them-- but I understand that plans are in place to restore those when the dust settles a bit.
For financial reasons, the name of the business has changed to West Side Cafe, but the new owner plans to leave the old signage in place until all the previous customers have returned. He's very aware he needs all of Gumbah's old fans to be successful in his new enterprise.
Again, they've only been open for just over a week, so there's still a bit of fine tuning to be done, but fans of Gumbah's who demonstrate their support and/or indulge their cravings will not be disappointed.
138 Tennessee St. Vallejo, CA
Hours shown as: Mon-Sat 11:00am to 5:30pm