Curious about what goes into opening a restaurant? Each month we'll be checking in on the build-out process of flour + water, a new restaurant project that is underway in the Mission. The hardhat will highlight the unique coups and complications when opening a restaurant in San Francisco. This section will be written by Erin Archuleta, tablehopper intern and half of the talent behind local outfit Ichi Catering.
Peeking in through the plywood construction facade at flour + water, you wouldn't expect that there's much going on. But, after checking back in with owner David Steele and chef-owner David White, they've had their hands full with the permitting process.
The drawing and permitting process can be very nuanced. And in this case--they've got a completely custom-designed kitchen by David W. himself--it can be an extremely complex process. For each part of the design, whether it's the venting for the custom wood-fired oven (which took a month's research on its own), or the height of a door, many permitting experts have to be consulted. And, since they're all experts in their own respective areas (Health Department, Fire Department, oven manufacturers, HVAC, mechanical engineers, and electricians), this can mean that they won't always agree.
David W. told me that each time he's heard the word "impossible" during the restaurant design process, it has only made him want to find the way to execute the idea. He has found "learning on the job" to be a critical asset. Now, after their final revision, the Davids have submitted the final design plan to the city for approval. Fingers crossed on all your hard work and endless consultations, gentlemen!
Other preparations are taking place before the commencement of the build: gastronomic ones! David S. is set for a research trip to New York where he will taste and sample the menus at ápizz, Covo, `inoteca Lupa, Pala, and Otto. Both Davids told me that they have been eating pizza and pasta at virtually every meal for the last couple of weeks. They are excited by the ideas they're developing, but are starting to get just a little bit sick of eating the same thing every day. David S. and I laughed about the impending weight gain, but he didn't sound worried at all, confessing that he's "workout obsessed."
David W. has been making different pastas at home, getting a feel for what things excite the palate. He's also been up in wine country, exploring the fruit and experiencing the harvest. With his background in wine menu development, his mind is definitely on the wine.
And, in my most favorite twist of research, one that doesn't exactly involve the charge card and discreetly undoing that top button for breathing room: David W.'s been out boar hunting! I picture some kind of Hunter S. Thompson backpacking trip, but he fills me in that boars have actually become a nuisance to farmers, and hunting and eating the pesky boars is actually welcomed. He's excited by the prospect of getting his own boar, and then curing the meat for tasting and experimenting at home.Â
We'll be back next month with more news and an update on the restaurant's progress! And perhaps some boar recipes!