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After 18 years, the Broadway Cafe celebrates one more week

In October, Nicole Toyama will be 73 years old and, she says, her family just won’t let her continue.

“When you cook with love from here,” she said pointing to her heart beneath her Broadway Cafe apron. “It’s different.”

“Every dish I sent out was like I was cooking for myself.”

After 18 years on the hill of Broadway between Pine and Pike, Toyama’s Broadway Cafe is celebrating its final week of business. With a menu that can only be described as eclectic and, often, one of a kind, the cafe will shutter Saturday. In other words, this is your last chance to say goodbye and thanks for lunch.

Toyama only wants to say she’s sorry.

“Sorry I have to go,” she said. “I will miss my customers very much.”

Coming next for the space is another restaurant.

Toyama said several offers came in once her cafe was put up for sale. She stuck with the first buyer, she says, even though his bid was not the highest. “He came to me and was very nice. He really wanted my restaurant,” she said.

Toyama said she can’t name names but you can expect the turnaround to be amazingly quick. The new operation is slated to be open by the start of October. 

Toyama’s dog Puppy will miss Broadway (and also missed his attempt to nibble on this photographer. Nice try, Puppy!)

It will join a stretch of Broadway undergoing some important changes. Streetcar construction has reached its section of Broadway and eventually a stop will be just down the hill. The old Blockbuster across the street will soon be reborn as a Mud Bay pet store. Tacos Guaymas will soon fill a vacant space next door. And the new Q nightclub will increase the number of hungry nightlifers looking for a fix in the 2-block-radius.

Toyama says the deal should be enough to get by on in her new world of unemployment at the age of 73.

She won’t be cooking as much. “I cook for two people but my husband is gone,” she said.

She has a daughter and two grandchildren who live nearby to keep her busy. She also said she has a dream for her newfound free time of helping the Salvation Army, the organization that helped her family make the transition to a new country when they moved from Vietnam in 1975. This year, she hopes to give a little bit back by ringing a bell.

A million thanks to L Trane for the tip.

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8 years ago

They’ve been closed a lot in the last couple of years. Times I wanted to go there but they were out. If it were possible to have more small places run by small entrepreneurs on the Hill, it would be nice (I expect the Crazyberry guy will shut down soon too ..) .

8 years ago

The folks that ran this spot were so great, I’m sad to see them go, but it also seems like Mrs Toyama has worked hard and deserves a decent retirement! best wishes to her and her family, and hopefully something good fills this space in their absence.

8 years ago

thanks for a great writeup of a Broadway institution. I hope the next iteration in that space is just as eclectic and successful, and that Ms Toyama has a wonderful and healthy retirement.

8 years ago

This is really a shame. Nicole and Val provided a home away from home for many customers. It felt like being at grandmas. When I was feeling down or sick they were always there to talk to over a nice hot bowl of phó. They will be missed. In her last week everyone should really support her the way they have been there for others these last 18 years.. If you or a friend have never been, then go. Let’s show her how much we care!

8 years ago

What happened to her husband? I hope he didn’t pass away. Very nice couple that seemed to work well together.

8 years ago

Unfortunately, yes Val did pass away earlier this year. Really going to miss Broadway Cafe!

8 years ago

A long time customer feeling very sad to see you go.
Many Friday and Saturday nights hanging out eating and talking with Val and Nicole.
How will I get better without your Veggie Noodle Soup?
I’ll miss it so much. Thank you Nicole

Larry Silverman
7 years ago

Thanks for all the great food, atmosphere and conversation you provided over the years. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get there in person to say goodbye. My condolences to you on the death of your husband. He was a great guy and I always liked talking to him about the community and his sometimes strained relations with the college administration.