January 23, 2007

January 23, 2007

Okay, I have known about this joint for so long it was getting ridiculous. And then they didn't want me to write about it. For months. But now that it's getting close to the opening date, the Iron Curtain has dropped. Since some of you are curious about ~VESSEL~, the word on the street is they are opening February 8. (This could change, like many opening dates do.)

This boutique lounge is tucked away in Union Square, just across from Campton Place, and occupies 4,500 square feet of subterranean space beneath Giorgio Armani and Niketown. As the press release touts, "Vessel has been grandly envisioned and meticulously planned to take its place as a catalyst of San Francisco's new luxury nightlife scene." The release also contains terms like "ultra-premium nightlife." The in-house team includes servers, a concierge, maître d', special event planners, and valets. (If they're not careful, that scene can quickly morph into one that's just bottle service and boobs.)

This is the first West Coast project for fab Frenchie designer Stephane Dupoux, behind New York's Buddha Bar and Cielo, and South Beach's Nikki Beach. The swank space is tricked out with warm tones of red and amber, with Italian leather banquettes, teak tables, an exposed brick wall with a provenance that dates back to pre-1906, and a canopy of a distinctive replica tree and 18-foot ceilings (so don't let the subterranean factor make you feel claustrophobic—it's definitely not a bunker).

Vessel has capacity (ha ha) for 299 guests, with communal-style seating in the banquette areas. It's not just cocktails; there is also a wine list and gourmet hors d'oeuvres made with organic ingredients. From 4pm-10pm, Vessel is designed to be a pre-dinner, post-work, post-shopping refuge, and then the nightlife and dancing scene kicks in from 10pm-2am.

And yes, there will be dancing, with a raised stage that will host international DJs and live musicians for an eclectic music program of acoustic, lounge, house, and underground hip-hop formats. Strike a pose.

Partners are Sunwoo Hwang, founder of NNOO Production LLC, a Bay Area boutique nightlife consulting and promotions firm, with clients like W San Francisco, Supperclub, and Bacardi USA; and Philippe Rieser, who is also owner of New York's Cielo.