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Jul 20, 2020 10 min read

July 21, 2020 - This week's newsletter: putting the flan in flâneur.

July 21, 2020 - This week's newsletter: putting the flan in flâneur.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: putting the flan in flâneur.                    

The extraordinary Parisian flan from Tarts de Feybesse. Read more about this exquisite treat (and others!) on my Instagram and Facebook accounts shortly! (Oui, I am teasing you.) Photo: ©

Howdy, folks. You keeping your head up? I know, it’s tough. Writing today’s post of closures is my least favorite part of my work right now, let me tell you. You just don’t know when a place is going to be gone forever. Right now, I’m having a really hard time saying goodbye (without being able to say goodbye) to all our quirky, charming diners: It’s Tops, Louis’ Restaurant, Art’s Cafe…they are irreplaceable. So, if there’s a restaurant or café or diner or bar you really love, that you can’t imagine SF or the Bay Area without, maybe order some food or cocktails from them this week? (I know, if they’re even open! If they’ve been closed since March, see if they have a GoFundMe you can contribute to—a lot of that initial momentum of contributions is long gone. Check in on them.)

Which makes this the perfect time to hop over here and sign and share this petition for Congress to pass The Restaurants Act, establishing the $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund. We need this to happen. Thank you.

And please think about our bars. They’re hurting so badly right now. Read this essay from Michael Spike Krouse of Madrone and Pop’s for some perspective on how our government needs to help save these businesses or they’re going to be gone forever.

Have you had a chance to listen to the latest On the Fly by tablehopper podcast episode with chef-owner Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie’s in Old Oakland? Many of us already know what an incredible chef she is, with her legendary fried chicken and oxtails, but she is also such a beacon of love and strength and support for the community. I hope you enjoy listening to this episode, it was so good to drop in with her. Thank you for everything you do and are, Sarah. Also: everyone should get ready to come by for some goat curry! Follow @missolliesoakland for updates!

Stand by for this week’s upcoming On the Fly episode with the force who is Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement in Emeryville—it was such an honor to be in conversation with a born-and-raised Western Addition native.

And thanks for any support you can show the podcast—from donating to spreading the word. Know any potential advertisers? Is it you? Please come my way! I need some gas in the tank over here, thanks.

Speaking of gas in the tank, last Wednesday, I got to snag a ride to Palm Springs for a quick getaway from all this madness—so grateful to my friends who invited me to come soak in some sun and desert calm. Nothing like unplugging from all the devices and news and emails and DMs and floating in a pool for hours, day and night, to get your mind right. Three days weren’t quite enough, however—I need to get outta here again soon. Need. More. Nature. Don’t we all?

We also need more gelato. I want to thank all of you who showed up for the GIO Gelati presentation I moderated last Tuesday, announcing their new GIO Club—was great seeing so many of you. You can become a member and try GIO’s new gelato home-delivery service (a dangerous delight and dream!) and get 10 percent off your first order with code ILOVEGELATO1. Mwah. Don’t miss the sour cherry chip, lemon crema, and nectarine!

Which is why I need to go take a walk, like, right now. (And at a much-faster clip than a flâneur.) Someone has been enjoying her GIO cappuccino gelato as an afternoon pick-me-up for too many days in a row, ha-ha!

Take care and hang in there, gang. Hugs to all. XO ~Marcia

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

New Openings Include Summer at Saint Joe's, Nopalito 18th Street, Arbor


A peek at the outdoor terrace outside Saint Joseph’s Art Society (the location for Summer at Saint Joe’s). Instagram photo via @saintjosephsartsociety.


Summer at Saint Joe’s by night. Photo courtesy of Shelley Lindgren.


Totopos topped with carnitas from the new Nopalito window in the Mission. Instagram photo via @nopalitosf.


The fried chicken sandwich from Arbor in Hayes Valley. Photo courtesy of Arbor.

The reopening of TOSCA in North Beach under chef Nancy Oakes, Anna Weinberg, and Ken Fulk was happening in takeout boxes, but they smartly decided to pivot the party to the garden courtyard of Ken Fulk’s Saint Joseph’s Art Society in SoMa. Called Summer at Saint Joe’s, guests can book dinner Thu-Sat (two seatings per evening, 5:30pm and 8:30pm) and Sunday lunch (coming soon) in the Italian palazzo garden—complete with lemon and grapefruit trees—with Oakes cooking “delicious, easy Italian classic dishes—and lots of wine!” (thanks to guest sommelier Shelley Lindgren).

The four-course, family-style menu features summery dishes, like a Calabrian Caesar and crostata romanesco, A16 has their pizza oven fired up (serving a “Tosca Napoletana” pizza every night), and a main course like swordfish with roasted tomatoes and capers or a mixed grill. To finish, you can enjoy a limoncello Italian gelato served from a cart, molto carino. Greg Lindgren (Rye, Rye on the Road) will be offering Italian-inspired cocktails and yes, the Tosca Cappuccino is on the menu. It all sounds like an alfresco summer dream (even though we’re stuck in SF), and there will even be North Beach musicians and artists who will perform nightly—you can support the talent on your check. Dinner is $85 (exclusive of beverage, tax, and service charge). Reservations only. 1401 Howard St. at 10th St.

How about some good news for you Mission residents and frequenters of Dolores Park? NOPALITO has opened their takeout window on 18th Street in the Bi-Rite Creamery building, Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. Takeout orders can be placed at the window or on Caviar for delivery (and pick-up). On the menu: their amazing totopos topped with carnitas (!), a salad, tacos, or a rice-and-bean bowl with your choice of carnitas, chicken, or mushrooms with huitlacoche, cherry tomato pico de gallo, guacamole, and cilantro. You can also get a pound of carnitas for home. Provecho! 3690 18th St. at Dolores.

Open in Hayes Valley in The Absinthe Group’s former Arlequin Cafe is ARBOR, which has had quite the redo (I dig the late 70s/early 80s color palette and woven cane vibe). Sadly, the back patio isn’t open yet, but they have a few tables out front and are focused on takeout and delivery for the moment. The casual menu is full of plant-based options, from vegetable starters and salads to almond-chia seed pudding in the morning—but there’s also a Cobb salad, cheeseburger (featuring Cream Co. grass-fed beef), and a fried chicken sandwich that looks very crispy for meat-eaters. For dessert, you can have Double 8 Dairy soft-serve, or plant-based soft-serve from Eclipse. Beer, wine, and more are available—with Arlequin Wine Merchant right there, you have one heck of a bottle list. Hours for now are Wed-Sun 12pm-8pm. 384 Hayes St. at Gough.

Over in the East Bay, I am so happy to see EL GARAGE open their brick and mortar at 1428 Macdonald Ave. in Richmond (their quesabirria tacos are just beyond—and you get three for just $12)—but you need to pre-order on Wed for pickup Fri-Sun, plan accordingly. Things have been a bit bonkers, so maybe give them a couple weeks to iron out the kinks. (Read more in Eater.)

The new MASABAGA in Oakland has some groovy tuna belly burgers you should read about and will then want to try.

Be sure to follow @tablehopper on Instagram for reopening announcements in my daily Stories, like Souvla and Maison Danel!

Temporary Closures (Prospect, Perbacco, Barbacco, The Cliff House) and Permanent Closures (Louis' Restaurant, Art's Cafe, The House, and More)


The exterior of Perbacco. Photo via Perbacco’s Facebook page.


Caviar, leek, crème fraîche. Photo courtesy of Gap Year at Nico.


Flickr photo from danmachold.

With the ever-shifting timeline of reopening for indoor dining, some restaurants have chosen to temporarily pause operations since their outdoor dining and takeout options aren’t sustainable enough to keep them afloat. Over in SoMa, PROSPECT has hit pause for now—all the endless construction outside their door makes it impossible for them to host guests at outdoor tables. Thanks to the ladies for all the amazing takeout these past months—I’m glad I still have a little of chef Pam Mazzola’s pork puttanesca in the freezer.

Last Friday, both PERBACCO and BARBACCO have also hit pause. Read more in this letter from owners Umberto Gibin and chef Staffan Terje: “After four months of riding the emotional and financial roller-coaster of COVID-19, with no date from our City officials for when we will be able to open indoor dining and considering that historically July and August have been the slowest months for us, we decided that it is time to take a break. Perbacco will temporarily close tonight, Friday, July 17th after dinner service. We plan to come back after Labor Day.

“As soon as Shelter in Place was declared, we very quickly pivoted, setting up a takeout, delivery and a pick up program. When the City granted permission to serve outdoors, we created a charming little 8 table sidewalk dining area reminiscent of Italy. Your support has quite simply been amazing. We have felt overwhelmed by the love that you demonstrated with your purchases and by making reservations. We did all of this while chasing the date on which we would be able to open indoors with many more tables available. As you know, the date continued to change and on July 13th, after the city re-shut down, our hope of opening for indoor dining was put on hold, once again. Staying open is simply not sustainable.  Temporarily closing the restaurant is heartbreaking but the right decision for now.” We look forward to seeing what you have in store for us in September, guys!

There are some changes happening at the former NICO in Jackson Square, most recently operating as the pop-up Gap Year at Nico by Paul Einbund of The Morris with chef Jordan Guevara, which ended up getting cut short into “Gap Three Months.” Owners Andrea and Nico Delaroque are working with Einbund on a new, more takeout-friendly concept. Stand by for updates in August. [Via Chronicle.]

Another restaurant temporarily pausing operations (and takeout) is the historic THE CLIFF HOUSE—you can read their letter in full on their website, but here’s an excerpt: “Because of economic pressure during this unprecedented situation we have concluded that it would be best to preserve our remaining resources to ensure a continuance of future operations. This was not an easy decision to make especially considering the support we have received from all of you.”

And now for the extra-sad news. Just by The Cliff House is the beloved LOUIS’ RESTAURANT, which has been open for 83 years, offering one of the City’s finest views over classic diner fare (you could only hope and pray to snag the corner booth!). What a family-run institution! Louis’ closed at the start of the stay-at-home order, and now the closure is sadly going to be permanent.

The grandsons of the original owners, Bill and Tom Hontalas, said in a post on Facebook: “This decision was very difficult to make but with everything we have seen and heard regarding reopening for indoor dining we felt it was an unsafe environment for us and our employees. To wait out this pandemic was financially unreasonable. We are especially sad to not have been able to say goodbye to our many wonderful and loyal customers. You made the difficult job of running a small business enjoyable. To all of our staff past and present—we saw many of you start as high school teenagers and blossom into hard working adults. We are continually amazed at the hard work of the young people that passed through our doors and helped us run our family business.” Big sigh. There are some incredibly sweet remembrances in the comments (for once, it’s good to read the comments). [Via Chronicle]

Another beloved diner that is sadly closing permanently is ART’S CAFE in the Inner Sunset, home of an epic hash brown sandwich (pure brilliance), and their own Korean-American breakfast dishes, and one of the cutest diner counters in the city (it was full of postcards from regulars traveling around the world). I remember learning one morning that the couple who ran it, Mr. and Mrs. Youn, had never gone on vacation in all the years they ran it, only taking Mondays off. Since they took over the place in 1989, that means over 30 years of no vacation. (Have you ever felt lazier?) The one silver lining to all this is they finally get a break, although it’s not how they planned it. Thank you for all the years of service and short-order precision (and hangover-crushing!). [Via Chronicle.]

After 26 years of serving many loyal and regular customers dishes like their famed deep-fried salmon rolls, miso black cod, grilled sea bass, and wasabi noodles, THE HOUSE owners Larry and Angela Tse are closing their cozy little Asian fusion, North Beach restaurant. [Via Chronicle.]

And one of SF’s most Frenchy-French restaurants, JEANNE D’ARC, is closing after 48 years of business in the Cornell Hotel in Union Square. [Via San Francisco News.]

the matchmaker

Classifieds (let's get it on)

(Matchmaker): Restaurant Owners Alert--Qualified Buyer Seeks SF Venue for New Concept

With money in the bank and a team that a landlord will approve of, we are looking to purchase an existing restaurant with 1,700-2,200 square feet (approx.) and seating for 40-50 in the Marina, Cow Hollow, North Beach, Hayes Valley, Fillmore, or Pacific Heights. Large kitchen with good prep area and storage including walk-in, full liquor license preferable (although we can purchase separately), built-in bar optional. With a solid track record, we are looking to build a longterm relationship with a reasonable landlord who understands the realities of today’s new hospitality landscape.

Send details to and include current lease amount, NNN, and length remaining on lease. Happy to sign an NDA.

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