Coming to downtown is CITY COUNTER, a new daytime luncheonette inspired by classic Woolworth’s-style lunch counters, with an updated sensibility. Founder Harper Matheson is a San Francisco native, but was previously busy in New York working as a dancer and a restaurant hostess (a classic combination!), and then in management at places like Tia Pol, Char No. 4, and Maysville—she really fell in love with the restaurant industry. She also was working locally with Doug Washington on Grand Fare.
She is bringing on Blue Plate’s Sean Thomas as consulting chef. He’s building a menu that updates the American diner to 2017, one that reflects many backgrounds and food traditions, and Thomas’s globe-trotting food speaks to that. Dishes will be approachable and nostalgic, but New American and creative. Knowing Thomas’s freestyle ways, you can expect sandwiches and salads with captivating flavors. A few potential dishes he’s tinkering with are a Spanish tortilla sandwich with ‘nduja; licorice-braised pork served like a chashu burger; a salt cod croque; and a crispy greens salad with two kinds of rice, fried chickpeas, chorizo, and an egg.
Lunch service can be to stay or to go, and delivery and catering will be a big part of the plan (they plan to have their own online ordering platform). Happy hour will also be a focus, offering a cool space to go after work for a bite and an approachably priced glass of wine.
It’s a beautiful location in the Standard Oil Building (and just next door to Blue Bottle), and Matheson is excited to integrate the building’s Deco details. The counter itself is made of stone and 40 feet long, with 30 seats—it will have a big curve, and rest on steel posts that make it seem like it’s floating. A woodworker in Connecticut is making the stools, which will be simple and white. The 1,400-square-foot space also has four bay windows, which will have built-in bench seating and tables. Architect Nickie Huang will be balancing classic details, while keeping things current. Shawna Peterson, a neon artist in Oakland, is going to produce the City Counter monogram in hot pink neon for the space.
They are gunning to open in May, with hours Mon-Fri 11am-7pm. I’ll keep you posted on the menu and can’t wait to survey the interior before it opens. 115 Sansome St. at Bush.