AQ’s open kitchen (and groovy whisk lights). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
The dining room at Restaurant Lulu. Yelp photo by Tomo Toroeater T.
Chef Rob Lam of Butterfly. Photo courtesy of Butterfly.
It’s the beginning of the year, which always brings a batch of news about unfortunate closures after the holiday parties wrap up. Both ~BAR TARTINE~ and ~RANGE~ had their last nights on New Year’s Eve, and now word is out that owner Matt Semmelhack and chef-partner Mark Liberman’s ~AQ~ will be closing down this month as well (date TBD), after five years in business. Read the revealing Thrillist article, not only for a detailed portrayal of how the restaurant’s numbers fluctuated greatly over that five-year span, but to take a wider look at the financial pressure restaurants are operating under. Scoop followed up with Liberman and reports he will be leaving the Mercer Restaurant Group once the AQ space deal is final to pursue his own project; Fenix remains open. [UPDATE: AQ is now closing on Saturday January 14th.]
A tablehopper reader let me know about another casualty in SoMa: SF old-timer ~RESTAURANT LULU~ has posted a closure notice in its window and has served its last wood-fired mussels and pizzas. I remember it being the first place where I had family-style food service outside of Italy, and I drank many a Cosmo at that long bar. Even though it lost its luster in recent years, here’s to 24 years of many fond food memories there. 816 Folsom St. at 4th St.
Another successful restaurant that is closing is ~BUTTERFLY~. Chef-owner Rob Lam is closing the Embarcadero restaurant after dinner service on Saturday January 7th—after 15 YEARS of business in San Francisco (his lease is up). In a note, Lam says: “We bore witness to our beloved city’s growth as one of the finest epicenters of this great American culinary movement. We’ve shared many bowls of garlic noodles and countless shots of Fernet together. So it is with extreme pride that we can say we were a part of this San Francisco dining scene.”
As some of you have noted, we have done a few Vietnamese pop-ups together, which have been partially serving as R and D for his new concept. Lam is currently looking for a space, hopefully in San Francisco, but he hasn’t ruled out Oakland. Stand by for updates, and a big slow clap to Rob for 15 years of feeding so many happy guests (and pouring so much Fernet for them). Pier 33, 415-864-8999.
Foreign Cinema’s John Clark and Gayle Pirie have decided to close ~SHOW DOGS~ and the flanking ~MACHINE COFFEE~ at Market and Golden Gate after seven years of business at the challenging corner. [Via Hoodline.] That chicken sandwich is going to be missed. 1020 Market St. at Taylor.
Hoodline also reports that Latin American tapas and cocktail bar ~POQUITO~ in the Dogpatch is now closed. 2368 3rd St. at 20th St.
William Lue of Oakland’s Grocery Cafe has closed ~TENDER LOVING FOOD~ in the Tenderloin. But not all is lost: Hoodline reports he’s going to be opening his new restaurant, ~LAPHET~, serving banquet-style Burmese food and tea pairings in January at 448 Larkin St. (formerly Bento House). 393 Eddy St. at Leavenworth.
Just a short closure: ~SOUVLA~ on Hayes Street will temporarily be closed until January 11th for a refresh and will reopen on Thursday January 12th. (Delivery is still available via the Divisadero Street location, and the new Valencia location at 758 Valencia St. is opening January 16th, I’ll post more details on that next week!)