January 9, 2018

January 9, 2018

Four Barrel Coffee founder Jeremy Tooker. Photo via Four Barrel’s Facebook page.

The specialty coffee world joined the #metoo fray when The Chronicle revealed in an article on Friday that former female employees of ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ filed a lawsuit against company founder Jeremy Tooker, alleging sexual assult and harassment. The Chronicle also spoke with other Four Barrel employees and uncovered a deeply toxic and misogynistic culture in the company, with multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and discrimination. Partners Jodi Geren and Tal Mor and their HR reportedly didn’t respond to and weren’t supportive of employees who would report instances of harassment and more—most appeared to be fired. Yeah, that’s a great solution.

Since the bombshell piece, the weekend was full of anger, backlash, and confusion in the restaurant and specialty coffee worlds, with many of Four Barrel’s wholesale accounts around the U.S. dropping their coffee left and right. Tooker ended up divesting from the company over the weekend (certainly different from the passive “stepping away” we keep seeing with all these other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct, like with Mario Batali, Ken Friedman, and East Bay’s Charlie Hallowell). After an initial tone-deaf announcement from remaining partners Geren and Mor that Tooker was no longer a part of the company (since taken down off their site, but here’s a handy “corrected” version from Jasper Wilde/Sassy Barista—and you can follow her Twitter feed for many more updates from the field), they then followed up with a second announcement on Monday, stating that Tooker’s 50 percent share of the company is going to go to the employees, with the goal of becoming a 100 percent employee-owned company in time. That’s going to take some time to work out. And they have ended the Four Barrel name, using the working title of The Tide for now (hey everyone, let’s focus on rebranding and not look at all the ways we let you down in the past!). And there’s a handy little sales pitch/plea at the end.

It’s a lot to digest, and brings up many complicated questions, from what does this mean for The Mill and Josey Baker’s affiliation with the company and De La Paz (another one of Four Barrel’s companies) to wondering if this is going to be a company worth supporting in the future for the sake of the employees? (I have been working through it with friends on a private Facebook post the past few days.) A lot of this is a wait-and-see situation, and it has been quite the intense drama to watch unfold.

Sending so much support to the victims, and I commend their bravery to organize and come forward with these shocking and awful stories of sexual misconduct that needed to be known and addressed and people held accountable for. And to clean some house, because that one was filthy. The Tide—yeah, it needs to come in high and wash things up. It feels like it’s time to bust out some T.S. Eliot: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”


Beet spaghetti with burrata at Pasta Pop-Up. Photo courtesy of Francesco Covucci.

There’s a new project from the ~IL CASARO~ team (Francesco Covucci and Peter Fazio) in their former Vicoletto location in North Beach, and now they have opened ~PASTA POP-UP~, although it’s actually going to be permanent. Anyway, the idea is that it’s supposed to be an easy place to swing by, maybe you just want a plate of pasta and you want to head home. Or maybe you want to enjoy some wine and graze through some snacks with your friend. Maybe you want it all.

The good news is you can have it all, because they worked really hard to keep the prices low and affordable (no pasta is over $14 on the current/soft-opening menu, subject to change). But they didn’t want to sacrifice quality or good food ethics either, so any seafood is sustainable, and their ingredients are local.

And they’re making the pasta in-house! There’s rosemary pappardelle with slow-braised lamb shoulder and tomato sauce, and gnocchi Bolognese (yes, please), and spaghetti with clams. Oh yeah, and there’s squid ink spaghetti with clams, mussels, squid, and cherry tomatoes. Sign me up for that too.

Starters include calamari fritti, ‘nduja-stuffed potato croquettes, broccolini, a salad, and more—nothing is over $7. You’ll have a varied list of Italian wines by the glass to choose from, plus some beers too. Covucci tells me they are also going to be integrating a charitable component into the business; stand by for more on that. The place got a little refresh and feels a bit warmer, although it was always a cozy little spot. Open Tue-Sun 5pm-10pm. 550 Green St. at Stockton, 415-433-5800.

Also in the news: they have decided on what they’re going to call the project they’re opening in the former Panta Rei: ~BARBARA~. And if you click through, you’ll see they are planning to serve Roman-style pinsas. And cocktails. They’re targeting an opening at the end of February. I’ll be updating you with details on the project soon! 431 Columbus Ave. at Vallejo.

And for Castro residents eagerly awaiting the opening of the second ~IL CASARO~ on Church, it’s looking like February as well. Cin cin! 235 Church St. at Market.


The exterior of Cellar Door. Yelp photo by Kamran S.

Things are getting closer for Dominique Crenn’s new wine bar project, ~BAR CRENN~, which is slated to open in the former Cellar Door in Cow Hollow on February 20th. In a post on Instagram, she shared that “wine director Matt Montrose has amassed a collection of the great wines of France and beyond that channel their shared philosophy of environmental responsibility, where vignerons and domaines are showcased that prioritize traditional methods of viticulture as well as careful and thoughtful stewardship of the land. A rotating collection of wines are available by the glass as well as a more developed bottle list of some remarkable producers of world-class wine.” There will also be some low-ABV cocktails, along with “old-style French apéritifs,” which will integrate some NorCal ingredients and style.

Now, as for the snacky section, here’s where it gets interesting. Crenn states the food will be an homage to French classics, and in a move à la In Situ, the menu will be featuring dishes made from recipes provided by famous chefs and restaurants, including Alain Ducasse, Guy Savoy, Yannick Alléno, Pierre Sang, and many other top-rated chefs. Her team will also be working on some of their own variations of French classics. 3131 Fillmore St. at Greenwich.

One more note: ~ATELIER CRENN~ has closed until January 24th—they will reopen that Wednesday. She also has chef Julien Royer of Odette Restaurant, Singapore, visiting and cooking a collaborative dinner with her on February 12th.


The new Doma sushi in Bernal. Yelp photo by Genevieve Y.


The spacious bar at Botellón. Photo courtesy of Botellón.


Take your pick of classic dosas at Dosa Allee. Yelp photo by Arfan Muhammad “Arfann” M.

A bunch of new openings have joined the scene, so here are some quick recaps for ya.

Over in Bernal, there’s a new sushi restaurant called ~DOMA~, serving omakase for $45, $65, and $85, and a “brunch” omakase, which one Yelper outlines: “aji, uni, hamachi, scallop, tuna, amaebi plus soup, salad, dessert of pine nut tea and mochi rice cake.” The seafood selections sound pretty straight-ahead, but it’s reportedly a small and charming spot, with lots of white in the dining room and space for 10-12 guests seated at a horseshoe sushi bar with a live tree at the middle. Hours are 5pm-9pm daily. 433 Precita Ave. at Alabama.

Now softly open in the former Hecho in the Castro is ~BOTELLÓN~ from the Andalé Management Group—the grand opening is scheduled for Wednesday January 17th. While the name is from the word for Spanish street gatherings (where some bottles are involved), the menu actually skews more Cal-Med and fusion, with dishes from executive chefs Nicholas Andoe and Matthew D’Ambrosi like chorizo oil cornbread and lamb pops, while larger dishes include housemade pappardelle with pork sugo, a winter harvest pizza with seasonal vegetables, and a burger.

Cocktails from bar manager Jesse Ostroski (Hi Lo BBQ, Hog and Rocks) and consultant Saul Ranella (La Mar, Hog Island Oysters) include cocktails by the bottle, seasonal herb-infused syrups, and slushies. Check out the appealing menu here—and there’s that big bar where you can perch. Brunch is coming soon. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-11pm, Fri 5pm-close (kitchen until 12am), Sat 4pm-close (kitchen until 12am), Sun 4pm-10pm. 2200 Market St. at Sanchez, 415-800-7559.

Dosa lovers can get their fix at the new ~DOSA ALLEE~, which opened in the former Show Dogs in Mid-Market. In addition to South Indian dosas, there are also appetizers, curry combination plates/lunch specials, desserts, and beer and wine. Open Mon-Sat 11am-10pm and Sun 11am-9pm. 1020 Market St. at Taylor.

I reported on this café ages ago, and it’s finally open. ~FLOR DE CAFE~ is serving sandwiches, salads, smoothies, and coffee, plus breakfasty dishes like eggs and waffles. The pride of their menu is their Chilean lomito sandwich, featuring pork tenderloin prepared for three days (you can get chicken or vegetarian sandwiches too). Open daily 10am-7pm. 1020 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-333-3335.

Downtown workers will be happy to know there is now a third location of ~ROOSTER & RICE~ that has opened in the FiDi (in the former Urban Picnic). You can enjoy their awesome khao mun gai (poached chicken with super-tasty chicken fat rice). It’s the best hangover cure, or equally great when you’re sick. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. 125 Kearny St. at Post. [Via Hoodline.]

Ike Shehadeh of Ike’s Place and chef Ryan Scott have taken over the Castro’s ~SWEET INSPIRATION~, which has been around since 1981. They gave the place a light refresh, and the new menu includes egg sandwiches, all-you-can-eat pancakes for $7.99, a killer burger, and a fried chicken sandwich, plus some Ike’s-style sandwiches. Cake slices are still available, and consulting pastry chef Cheryl Burr is revamping the cake recipes, plus they added some big cookies. Hoodline also reports there is a beer and wine license in the works, so the place won’t quite be the sober hangout like it used to be. Open daily 8am-9pm. 2239 Market St. at Sanchez.

Did someone say Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Yup, SF finally has a ~KRISPY KREME~ doughnuts location, just next door to In-N-Out in Fisherman’s Wharf, so you can go eat all the dirty things there and then leave. Open Sun-Thu 6am-11pm and Fri-Sat 6am-1am. And there’s a 24-hour window. 353 Jefferson St. at Leavenworth. [Via Hoodline.]

On the slightly more, uh, wholesome side, ~WHOLESOME BAKERY~ has opened on the Divisadero Corridor, serving gluten-free and vegan baked goods—plus they are soy-free, trans fat-free, and low glycemic. The menu includes cupcakes, cakes, lemon tarts, brownies, bars, cookies, and more. Eater notes owner Mandy Harper wants everyone to enjoy the quality of the bakery’s offerings, not just people with dietary restrictions. (Note that their counter inside Alite camping store in the Mission has closed.) Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm and Sat-Sun 8am-8pm. 1001 Page St. at Divisadero.


The sunny yellow exterior of The Butler & the Chef. Yelp photo: Andrew D.

At the beginning of the year, there’s always a slew of restaurant closures, many of them downright unfortunate. Here we go.

A reader let me know that ~THE BUTLER & THE CHEF BISTRO~ officially closed over the New Year, and owner Joël Martin has served his last pain perdu and eggs Benedict in that beloved location with the sunny yellow exterior. Many of his loyal guests and friends who did not get a chance to say goodbye will be happy to know there is a “New Year’s barbecue and potluck” this Saturday January 13th from 1pm-5pm at the bistro for “staff, family, customers, and vendors all welcome to join us to close a chapter of life with sharing food, drinks, stories, and hugs together.” Awwwww. And so, another longtime South Park business has shuttered. 155A S. Park St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2075.

Nearby, another café I remember from the days when I worked in SoMa, ~PRIMO PATIO CAFÉ~, has closed after 25 years. Hoodline reports owner Noel Kelton struggled with the rent, but didn’t want to raise prices further, so she decided to close. It’s sad news for the tight crew they had working there and all their regulars. Best wishes to all. 214 Townsend St. at 3rd St.

And another quirky SF classic has closed: ~THE RED DOOR CAFE~. Some folks loved the chef-owner’s over-the-top antics, including sexual innuendo on everything from the menu to the dickorations to how he flirtatiously served you your brunch. Others never made it in because they broke the rules, like no wearing sunglasses while in line because it’s shady. Literally. I have been tracking the location for a couple of months since an ABC license transfer was under way, but could never get anyone to pick up the phone on the weekends to confirm the impending closure. Eater noted it appeared to be finally closed over the holiday—and so another part of freaky SF is gone.

A business called 1608 Bistro appears to be moving in (from the owner of the Filipino AJ’s BBQ & Cafe), but I haven’t been able to get a response from them, so we’ll just have to see. 1608 Bush St. at Franklin.

And yet another classic only-in-SF spot is closing: ~WICKED GROUNDS~, the kink/fetish/BDSM café, boutique, and community space in SoMa is having a tough time with their business and has decided to close. Those who want to help can read more on their site. Hoodline mentioned they are having a clearance sale, in case you want to get some new gear or books. 289 8th St. at Clementina.

Also in SoMa, I received a tip from a longtime reader that ~BIG CHEF TOM’S BELLY BURGERS~ closed over the New Year, and it looks like owner Tom Pizzica has headed back to Philly. Thanks for all the pork belly burgers over the years, Tom! 1550 Howard St. at 12th St.

Also closed: ~SHIDO SUSHI BAR AND GRILL~, the casual Japanese place that opened in the former Buck Tavern a couple of years ago, has served its last rock ‘n’ roll. 1655 Market St. at Brady.

It’s rough out there, right?

Here’s more:

The New Fillmore announced that Monetta White and David Lawrence of the former 1300 on FIllmore and ~BLACK BARK BBQ~ are going to be relocating their barbecue joint—they did not reopen after the holiday. They cite the lack of foot traffic (due to the beleaguered Fillmore Heritage Center) as a primary impetus for them to move. It sounds like they have a location lined up and plan to reopen in the spring, so stand by for some confirmation on the where. 1325 Fillmore St. at Ellis.

SFWeekly reports ~FRJTZ~ will be closing and serving their last fries on Sunday January 28th. But the 13-year-old spot is “currently in negotiations with a smaller venue in the Mission District that will require a complete build-out so stay tuned.” 590 Valencia St. at 17th St.

Now this isn’t a permanent closure, but Eater writes the ~MINA TEST KITCHEN~ has closed for now since they don’t have a restaurant lined up just yet for their incubator, and besides, chef Adam Sobel is busy with Cal Mare in LA, plus other big openings in the Mina Group. Stand by for what’s coming next in the space in about four months or so (btw, it’s a great private event space).

And we knew this was coming but it still sucks: Temescal’s ~JUHU BEACH CLUB~ has closed (via East Bay Express). Owners Preeti Mistry and Ann Nadeau sold the location and are focusing on their other restaurant, Navi Kitchen, and their recent cookbook launch. We’ll have to see what’s going into the space and what’s next for Juhu (it was reportedly coming back in some other form).

And also in Oakland, Rockridge’s ~DUCHESS~ has closed after a year in business. The owners may be rejiggering the space and concept, stand by. 5422 College Ave. at Kales, Oakland. [Via Eater.]

And Nosh announced the adored ~SLIVER PIZZERIA~ in downtown Berkeley is closed and relocating. 2132 Center St. at Oxford, Berkeley.

Whoosh, that was a lot. Sorry, everyone, it’s tough out there. Thank you for all your efforts to feed us!


“Old-school” pad Thai with head-on/shell-on shrimp from Monterey Fish Market and Hodo Soy tofu at Funky Elephant. Instagram photo via @funky.elephant.

Gang, whoa, the 510 is en fuego right now with new openings. So many places I want to visit! To be honest, I wish I had the time to recap all these openings from the past two weeks, but I don’t, and I have some carpal tunnel flaring up with all this writing, so I’m going to give you some quick teasers and you just click through to what you’d like to read more about. Which will probably be everything. :)

There’s a new Thai place in Berkeley’s Gilman district from a former chef de cuisine at Hawker Fare in San Francisco serving Thai comfort food with housemade ingredients (like their green curry): ~FUNKY ELEPHANT~. [Via EBX.]

There’s another Thai place that just opened in North Oakand, ~BIRD & BUFFALO~, a fast-casual place from the owners of Soi 4 Bangkok in Rockridge and Basil Thai and Basil Canteen in SF. [Via EBX.]

Chef Tu David Phu is “launching Chef’s Hawker Centre, a nationwide pop-up series celebrating Asian ingredients, techniques, and culture in collaboration with Cochon555” and Feastly, starting this month. (Let’s hope they get some ladies in that lineup.) [Via EBX.]

Oh hai, here are some ladies. ~OESTE BAR & KITCHEN~ has opened in Old Oakland from Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos (read more backstory on them here), featuring a daytime café, cocktails, nighttime vibes, dishes like chicken and sausage gumbo and a burger, and an upcoming rooftop deck. [Via EBX.]

And, I am quite sure y’all saw this already about Charlie Hallowell (Pizzaiolo, Boot and Shoe Service, Penrose) stepping away from his restaurants after 17 female former employees came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct. Like the Four Barrel/Jeremy Tooker allegations, it brings up a lot of complicated questions (like “Is Hallowell still benefiting from his company? Yes? If not, is it okay to show support to his employees by dining there?”). There is some dialogue about this on an Instagram post from Ordinaire Wine, which is no longer offering Boot and Shoe pizzas at their shop.