Curious about what goes into opening a restaurant? Each month we'll be checking in on the build-out process of various bars and restaurants around the City, highlighting the unique coups and complications when opening a business in San Francisco. This section is written by Erin Archuleta, tablehopper intern and half of the talent behind local outfit Ichi Catering.
Opening later this spring comes Eve, a smart, girl-geared project from husband-wife team Leilani Brennan and Colin O'Malley of San Francisco lounge John Colins. Eve is located at 575 Howard Street in the historic stretch of SOMA. (Side note: they're also simultaneously preparing John Colins for the move to 138 Minna Street due to the incoming Transbay Terminal project at their current 90 Natoma Street location.)
Both craving to offer something more creative for San Franciscans, Leilani launched her long-time idea of an establishment catering to women's tastes with a jazzy lounge feel. They're planning to serve handcrafted cocktails, wines by the glass, and feature female bartenders. They called upon their architects, Y.A. Studios to support the launch of their creative vision for a feminine aesthetic.
Unanticipated changes in the design and layout process included moving the bar from the back of the architectural layout to the left side of the space in order to meet fire code compliance. And, with this move, there's a bit less wall to frame out (saving them money). Y.A.. Studios guided them through this process and also conceptualized a hallway to create more occupancy for their lounge.
At the core of the build-out is a friends-and-family team making things happen as quickly as possible. The project's general contractor is Melo Tabudlo of Dreamt Design & Build, Colin O'Malley's longtime family friend. And the labor for the project is friend and plumber Ghassan Zeidan from San Francisco based S & G Plumbing, and his brothers Patrick O'Malley and Nathan Mitchell. When I arrived, the guys were all jackhammering and trenching to wrap up Ghassan's plumbing project so that the concrete floor beneath the bar could be poured later that afternoon. And, according to Ghassan a 100-year plumbing update was in order. They laid all new copper pipe and are building out two bathrooms to accommodate the crowds. They're also preparing for the installation of the fire sprinklers.
The crew was feeling confident about their timeline with these new layout changes from Y.A. Studios. They will install the conduit and electrical wiring after the concrete they're pouring dries (48 hours) and the framing is completed (within the week). After the framing is up they'll be able to schedule their mudding, taping, and fire inspections.
During the trenching process for the plumbing, the brothers have unearthed some pre-1906 earthquake and fire artifacts. 575 Howard, they tell me, was an old print shop after the rebuild of the downtown area, and the burnt, crumbled pieces of the former building were repurposed for the foundation of the shop. In the dirt below the foundation the guys have pulled 100-year-old children's marbles, old printing press wheels, and seashells, and in a more recent find: apparently whoever handled the remodel of the walls in the flower-child era left an empty tall boy of Bud in the wall. In fact, as the guys have peeled back the walls, they've exposed the old frame and have found burnt wood everywhere, all reused remnants of the 1906 fire.
With the museum-like interest of the build-out also comes the headache of working with a historic building. Originally, Colin and his brothers envisioned altering the facade with a similar look to their next-door neighbor, Kate O'Brien's. A local society contested the proposed parapet and their idea of altering the sidewalk. This contest held up the brothers' build-out by an extra two to three months. About the permitting waiting game, Leilani saya, "paying rent without being able to move forward on the project, even for two extra months in this economy is a real hardship." Ultimately, there will be some minor changes to try to match the neighborhood's look and the entrance will remain true to its post-quake roots.
It's looking like they're back on schedule and are due to open late this spring, pending all rough and finished permits going according to plan. Here's to clinking the glass at Eve, harkening back to the lady who laid the ultimate groundwork for temptation and libations.