I hope y’all had a nice Fourth of July break—looks like a bunch of folks took the week off based on all the empty parking spaces I spotted in the City last week! I had a few truly blissful days up in Guerneville, floating on the river and soaking up some sun with friends. After I returned to foggy SF, I was a bit under the weather, blergh, so I decided to spend the rest of the week catching up on a lot of reading (so many open tabs!) and movies and work. I just posted one of my favorite reads on the new Threads app (follow me there!)—if you’re a film buff, don’t miss the incredible The New Yorker article I shared about director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver).
Have you watched the new Wham! documentary yet on Netflix? Oh man, it propelled me right back to my teenybopper years—I had the biggest smile on my face while watching the entire thing. What a story, what a time. Wham! was my first concert (although my Dad did bring me to see the Four Tops and The Temptations at the Circle Star the year before), and what a show it was: the Wham! Day on the Green #2 at the Oakland Coliseum for the Whamamerica! tour, with Katrina and the Waves and the Pointer Sisters (who my Dad thoroughly enjoyed watching). September 1st, 1985! I lost my mind at that concert—my massive love for live music was definitely sparked that day. I can’t believe I was able to find a setlist for the show—wow, internet.
The funniest thing is the next day, my Mom found me crying on my bedroom floor, literally sobbing into a huge pillow. She asked what was wrong and I wailed: “I’m never going to have that much fun again!” Ha ha ha! Oh, dramatic teen! Joke’s on me! I have gone on to have all kinds of tremendous fun, I know you know. Anyway, don’t miss the doc, especially if you’re a fellow Gen X-er, and here’s the new singles album to bop around the house to. Enjoy. It’s all the summertime-vibed lift I needed.
I’m hopping into the wayback machine again this Sunday—am so excited to see the last show in the Dead & Co. final tour here in the City. Surprise, you didn’t know I was a bit of a Deadhead, did ya? I saw my first Dead show at The Greek Theatre in 1989, and it was another one of those seminal experiences in my life with music that I will never forget. (Also, my first time taking 🍄, so there’s that.) But pretty soon thereafter, I discovered Acid House music and was off to the rave. 💃
It looks like the weather is going to shift out of our excessive June Gloom this weekend, so I wanted to throw a few events on your radar for some fun. This Friday July 14th is the next monthly installment of the Bhangra & Beats Night Market, with three blocks of music, food, cocktails, local artisans, and more, 5pm–10pm. It’s also Bastille Day, and La Societé is hosting a party on their patio from 4:30pm–7:30pm, with oysters, Parisian sausages, French grilled skewers, drink specials, and live entertainment (menu here).
Feeling fancy? This Saturday is The Caviar Co.’s National Caviar Day party at the glam Saint Joseph’s Arts Foundation. They’re planning on going through 40+ lbs. of caviar, with unlimited bubbles and Martinis, plus oysters, sushi, and more! Do it up!
And then on Sunday is the Foodwise Summer Bash, with unlimited food and drink from 45 Bay Area restaurants and beverage makers (see the full lineup), featuring peak-summer produce from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Tickets: take $15 off with promo code TABLEHOPPER. (Whether you’re attending or not, you can join their online auction to bid on 28 unique food and travel experiences and items, with proceeds benefiting Foodwise’s education programs.)
Get out there, enjoy yourself, and raise a glass (make it two) to bon vivant Marlena Spieler, who sadly and unexpectedly left us last week. I like to think of what she’s finding in paradise and putting in her big, polka-dotted bag. Only the best for you, vivacious lady!
🥂 🥂 🥂
The Halfway Club, Coming to Crocker-Amazon this Fall from SF Industry Pros, Will Be All-the-Way Fun
Some exciting news from the San Francisco bar world: longtime restaurant and bar industry denizens Ethan Terry and Greg Quinn are taking over the Broken Record space in Crocker-Amazon and opening The Halfway Club this fall. The Broken Record was one of their favorite bars and had a great run—as soon as they saw owner Jason King’s decision to close it and focus on his North Beach bar, Church Key, they reached out immediately.
It has been a longtime dream for these two gents to have their own space (for at least 15 years), and after all kinds of almosts (their circuitous story of how they acquired their SF-only type 87 liquor license, twice, is mind-boggling), they finally have their spot. And The Halfway Club is not just a bar—it’s more of a restaurant and bar, but completely a neighborhood joint. And here’s the fun twist: their opening consulting chef is also from the bar world, who was previously on the culinary side: Larry Piaskowy! More on that in a momentito.
Ethan Terry’s deep bartending background includes 15 Romolo, Comstock Saloon, AQ, The Alembic (after Daniel Hyatt left), and he was on the brand ambassador side of things for the Bon Vivants spirits portfolio, a brand manager for Avion Tequila, and for the past four years has been THE Chartreuse guy as West Coast brand manager for Frederick Wildman and Sons, Ltd.
Meanwhile, Greg Quinn worked at The Alembic with Terry, as well as the Absinthe Group’s Boxing Room, Trou Normand, and lately has been working at Foreign Cinema and Octavia (he has an extensive background in restaurant management). He was also a founding partner of Free Flow Wines. The two first started working together at Annabelle’s Bar & Bistro, when Quinn gave Terry his start as a barback, where he eventually became bar manager. It’s pretty great to have them taking this big step into ownership and hospitality after so many years in the industry.
I am completely obsessed with the retro time period they want to celebrate with the restaurant’s style and ethos: think a late-70s/early-80s fever dream, a bit like dad’s bar in a basement bonus room, with dark wood paneling, amber lighting, vintage beer lights, and mismatched swag lamps.
It’s going to feel cozy, with custom-made, deep booths upholstered in leather and plants and lots of vintage glassware (get ready for fancy, blue-collar beer goblets—remember those honeycomb-faceted numbers?). There’s even going to be a meticulously curated jukebox (subscribers are looking at a picture of which groovy one it is!). And then don’t forget the sunny patio! Consider The Halfway Club their homage to the down-to-earth dive bars, taverns, and supper clubs they grew up enjoying in the Midwest.
Terry also mentioned they’re going to be holding movie nights in the back room, thanks to brand ambassador Eric Quilty who reps Steven Soderbergh’s Singani 63—Singani donated a projector and a screen so the guys can host a film series. All I can say is they have a goldmine of films to choose from if they stick with the late-70’s era of their project’s style inspiration.
The guys are both from the Midwest (Chicago), and will be celebrating some Midwest cocktails and traditions, like a brandy Old Fashioned (made with a nice cherry and orange cordial and California brandy), a Bloody Mary with a beer back, and their spin on a Porch Crawler: the Pink Porch Crawler, made with pink lemonade concentrate, vodka, and beer (Terry says it weirdly and wildly works, and they’re going to have it as their vodka drink on tap). You can also order some proper classic cocktails, so if you want something like a Sazerac, they can do that for you, too. There will be a list of Boilermakers, rare whiskies, and all kinds of beers.
Consulting chef Larry Piaskowy is also from Chicago, and they’re going to be celebrating some Midwest and Chi-Town favorites on the menu, like...
Before Larry was making his excellent cocktails at Rich Table and True Laurel, he was actually the chef at Indigo (remember that place?), 15 Romolo (he was the one behind their bonkers brunch), Cowgirl Creamery, and he also created Bar Jars. Fun backstory: Greg Quinn was the one who nudged Larry into bartending at The Alembic (Greg seems to have this effect on people!). Recently, Larry was helping the guys with recommendations on who should be their chef for The Halfway Club, but they eventually were able to convince him that he was their guy. I think some drinks may have been involved.
Even though the team has strong Midwest roots, the inspiration for The Halfway Club’s name is completely SF. When the Golden Gate Bridge was being built, there was a safety net under the bridge from 1936–37 to catch men who would fall (eep). There were 19 men who fell and were saved by the safety net, and they formed their own society, the Half Way to Hell Club (when someone would tragically fall to their death, it was said “he’s gone to hell,” so those who were saved were only halfway). There’s a plaque on the bridge honoring the workers, and it caught the guys’ attention as a great name for their project. They decided to soften things a bit, so they took the “hell” part out, even though it’s so punk rock.
They want to keep things affordable, super-hospitable, service-focused, friendly, and dependable: they will stick to their posted hours, even if it’s a slow night. Bless! They will be open nightly, and want people to be able to count on them.
They’re hoping for an early September opening, but these seasoned industry folks know that date can slip. I will keep you posted on this exciting opening—it’s great to see a talented team really run with a fun look, style, and vibe. Cheers to dreams coming true! 1166 Geneva Ave. at Edinburgh.
New Openings Include Memento SF, Funky Elephant, Dumpling Story, and More
Back in May, I mentioned Memento SF was opening in the former Bistro SF Grill in Noe Valley, and this new neighborhood restaurant has just opened. Chef-owner Rafael Da Silva has 17 years of restaurant experience, working in London, LA, and New York, and he’s also behind the (low-ABV) cocktail list.
The eclectic menu of upscale California cuisine includes fried empanadas (manchego cheese or grass-fed ground beef, $18), salmon tartare (avocado, crispy shallots, cilantro, ponzu, lemon zest, black sesame, $21)...
There are six cocktails ($16 each) that do inventive things with soju-based spirits, including the Between Worlds (soju tequila–infused liqueur, yuzu liqueur, simple syrup, citric acid, port wine foam).
Open Tue–Sat for dinner, with a brunch menu to follow. Dining is reservation-only for the time being. To reserve a table, click here. 1305 Castro St. at 24th St.
Lovers of Thai spice and curries made from scratch: Berkeley’s Funky Elephant has just opened their SF location, which I mentioned back in March was coming to the former Barzotto on Valencia. Chef/co-owner O Supasit Puttikaew and his wife will continue to offer their extremely delicious “non-traditional Thai comfort food.” He was a former chef de cuisine at Hawker Fare SF, and opened Funky Elephant in Berkeley in 2018. In an email to me, he mentioned (with a few copyedits from me): “We do things seriously and use the freshest ingredients that we can find. All the curry pastes and sauces will be made from scratch. No shortcuts in this restaurant.” Their version of Thai comfort and street food really pops.
Get excited for some kicky Thai dishes (you can look at the menu here), and it’s great that they have more seating to work with at this location. Open Tue–Sun 5pm–9.30pm. 1270 Valencia St. at 24th St.
Back in April, I wrote that the amazing Dumpling Home in Hayes Valley was opening a second location in the former Fresca on Fillmore, and the team just opened Dumpling Story a little over a week ago. (I know, yet another place with “dumpling” in its name. I can’t keep them straight anymore. 🤪)
Can you believe Forbes Island, the kitschy island and restaurant created by Forbes Thor Kiddoo that used to be docked by Pier 39 is back in action? A group of nautical friends got together to buy it, transport it, restore it, and relaunch it as an event space next to private land on Bradford Island (near Antioch). Read all about it in SFGate, and you can trust I want to look into throwing a tablehopper event there. Arrrrrright!
Departures and Closures and Changes in Ownership
About a week ago, Serena Chow Fisher and David Fisher of Marlena restaurant (300 Precita Ave.) posted some unfortunate news on their Instagram account, announcing they have been in conflict with the owner of the restaurant and decided to step away from their beloved project. Considering the Michelin-starred restaurant is named in honor of David’s late mother, you can imagine how difficult it was for them to make this decision. Instead of contributing to the echo chamber of news about this, you can read stories in SFGate and Eater for additional details about the extremely difficult situation.
I don’t know how the owner thinks people will want to visit Marlena without the chefs who built it. The website claims it will reopen on August 1st “with new leadership.” Reminds me of the Noosh implosion in 2019.
Anyway, the duo will be pushing ahead with Ryan Cole/Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group with their upcoming project, 7 Adams, which I mentioned is coming this fall to the soon-to-close Gardenias space in Lower Pacific Heights/Japantown. Stand by for more on that soon.
Also in Pacific Heights: Curbside Cafe has served their last French onion soup—their lease ended and wasn’t renewed, so owners Olivier and Gwyneth Perrier sadly closed the longtime neighborhood bistro on July 2nd. (They owned it from 2010–2023; SFGate mentions the café first opened in 1978.) You can read their farewell on their Facebook page. 2417 California St. at Fillmore. [Via SF Standard]
I was walking on Mission Street a couple weeks ago and noticed the recently opened Kuba (in the former Cha Cha Cha) was dark, with a cryptic sign on the window saying “Cha Cha is returning soon.” I checked Yelp, which lists the business as closed, and their ABC license was withdrawn; their website also doesn’t want to load. I reached out to Kuba for an update, will let you know if I hear anything. 2327 Mission St. at 19th St.
Also in the Mission: another old-timer that had a recent reboot has closed. Luna (formerly Luna Park) has closed after renovating the space and menu five months ago. 694 Valencia St. at 18th St. [Via Eater]
I noticed an ABC license transfer for Matterhorn Restaurant and Bakery, and Jonathan and Jose Ojinaga of Azúcar Lounge will be the new owners. Previous owners Natalie and Jason Horwath and Nathan (their 11-year-old son) will be relocating back to Geneva, Switzerland, after being away for the last 10 years. A statement from the Horwaths says: “They are moving for Jason’s profession, as well as for personal reasons. Natalie has been fortunate to feel healthy and strong despite her stage IV breast cancer diagnosis two years ago, thanks to excellent support from family and friends, as well as meaningful care from UCSF. Switzerland is where they are happiest and healthiest.” Best wishes to the family and especially for Natalie’s health, they did such an amazing job updating the space. The Ojinagas look forward to keeping the Alpine specialties and warm hospitality intact at the Matterhorn, and continuing its legacy as a San Francisco institution. 2323 Van Ness Ave. at Vallejo.
It’s Time to Discover (or Rediscover!) Ozumo, a San Francisco Gem
Experience Japanese culinary excellence at Ozumo, a beloved San Francisco institution on the Embarcadero (161 Steuart St.). The new chef-partner, chef Yukinori Yamamoto, is set to thrill your palate with his passion for authentic Japanese cuisine.
Chef Yamamoto perfected his craft during an eight-year tenure at the prestigious, Michelin-starred Kagaman in Osaka. He further honed his skills at Sushimoto in Mie, before leaving a lasting impression on the SF culinary scene as the former executive chef at Pabu.
At Ozumo, our mission is to celebrate and pay tribute to the rich traditions of Japanese gastronomy. The menu showcases the best of three culinary realms: izakaya, robata (with one of the few binchotan grills in SF), and sushi.
Some tablehopper picks: “Order the tai (sea bream) and Hawaiian king salmon aburi-style (seared with basil butter); the kushiyaki skewers; the nasu (grilled eggplant) and hotate (scallops) with shiso oil off the robata menu; and order a rainbow of mochi for dessert! Happy hour is daily 4pm–6pm: get their quality California roll with snow crab!” (Take a look at the recent @tablehopper post on Instagram or Facebook for some pics!)
The beverage program skillfully blends Japanese ingredients and spirits to craft one-of-a-kind cocktails (tablehopper recommends the Tokyo Vice—a spicy Paloma—and the Sakura spritz with umeshu). Ozumo is also a top destination for group dining, with numerous private and semi-private dining options. Dinner nightly, lunch Mon–Fri.
The Revival of a Storied San Francisco Beer Brand (and Some Mighty-Delicious Beers) at Enterprise Brewing Co.
On the Friday before the Fourth of July holiday weekend, I had a chance to swing by the new Enterprise Brewing Co. in SoMa to meet the owners, taste their beers, and have a look at the space before they opened for their friends and family party the next day. (Thanks to tablehopper reader Eddie H. for the original tip-off that this project was moving into the former Cellarmaker space on Howard, who moved their production to the East Bay.) It’s downright refreshing to hear about a new, local brewery opening after seeing so many closures these past years.
Owners Cameron McDonald (brewer) and Jesse Hayter (front of house and sales) named their new brewery in honor of the pre-Prohibition Enterprise Brewing Company (1892–1914), which was located in the Mission at 1 Enterprise (now you know why that alley between Folsom and Treat is named Enterprise) and on Folsom, too. When they were trying to figure out what to name their brewery, they wanted something SF-centric and to celebrate being SF-made—they discovered the history of Enterprise Brewing through this wonderful SFGate article and decided to revive it. In fact, as people have been hearing about the return of the brand, they have been reaching out with old signs, and the guys are even getting in touch with a family member whose grandfather was part of the original brewery. Full circle.
Cameron McDonald has deep family ties in SF—his son will be the fifth generation of San Franciscans in the family! Cameron got into brewing right out of college, and was at Gordon Biersch, and then Fort Point Beer Company, followed by Standard Deviant (which is the same size as Enterprise, a 10-barrel brewhouse).
Jesse Hayter hails from southern Indiana, and eventually made his way to SF, and started doing beer delivery for Fort Point in the brewery’s early days—which is when he and Cam met—and they worked together at Standard Deviant as well. As a friendly person doing beer delivery—and playing country music and more at Pops, the Knockout, and Standard Deviant—Jesse has earned a bit of a rep “as a mayor in the Mission,” Cam joked.
They are so excited to host their many friends. The beer community is a tight one, and they’re also right on the Howard Street bike path (both the guys are cyclists), so they’re looking forward to hosting the local cycling community as well (or just folks pedaling by who are thirsty for a beer).
Their main focus for their core beers are beers they want to drink (leaning toward light, crisp, and clean), while offering a wide enough variety to keep people interested. The opening lineup includes a light lager, pilsner, Hayter’s pale ale (Jesse’s a pale ale fan), copper ale, porter, West Coast IPA, and a hazy they did in collaboration with Cellarmaker (called Cellarprise). Cam mentioned how helpful the Cellarmaker crew has been with the passing of the brewhouse baton, from sharing the way they formulated recipes on the equipment to even having him get a few brew days in with them when they were still operating.
Enterprise’s lineup of beers is right up my alley. I started with their lager, a classic American light lager, and super crushable (4%)—it’s something you want to drink fresh and cold, right at their bar. It’s like having a craft version of the canned beer we all drink, made with quality ingredients (they’re using German hops). It was earthy and slightly grassy, and you get some pilsner malt breadiness, with a touch of citrus pith bitterness on the end. Love me a crisp finish.
The pilsner is Cam’s favorite, and it shows. As a pilsner lover, I love loved this beer. As a pilsner lover, I love loved this beer. He’s using the same yeast as the lager, and German Saphir hops, but it’s less restrained than the lager. It’s floral and fruity (without being juicy), with a light bitterness. I said it transported me to being outside on a picnic blanket in a park, and Cam chimed in: “Springtime and sunshine!” It clocks in at 5%, and I think this will be a perfect beer for restaurants, it’s so food-friendly. Jesse noted their beers are also going to be great for SF’s Indian Summer, which is when things will really be humming over there.
They also have plans for a fest beer, plus some other darker beers, but still with a lower ABV—they want to convince people dark beer doesn’t have to be such a commitment. Cam likes to brew his beers with a dry finish and not overwhelm the palate. Crisp and clean, man! They also have a non-alcoholic hopwater, so everyone is welcome at the bar.
With the brew system they’re working with, Enterprise will be able to support their core beers while rotating in new ones, which could come to 15 beers at a time, while handling their wholesale accounts (which they hope to start servicing after August or so). Canned crowlers (32 oz.) will also be coming soon, get excited to bring them to the park or a patio.
They’re playing with the taproom’s layout and furnishings, but there’s a bar you can belly up to, as well as some high-top tables. Cam said he’s happy to show people around the operation when he’s there. They also have some amazing neighbors—Rize Up Bakery—so things will be smelling great on that block.
They’re going to run with limited hours through July, and will update hours as they go along. Soft-opening hours for now are Wed–Thu 4pm–8pm, Fri 3pm–9pm, Sat 1pm–9pm, and Sun 1pm–8pm. The grand opening is slated for August 5th, when they will have eight beers ready and on tap. Follow their Instagram @enterprisebrewingco for updates. 1150 Howard St. at 7th St.
Have a Super-Swell and Jazzy Night Out at Dawn Club
Just last week, I posted on the ‘gram about my incredible night at the newly opened Dawn Club (from the Future Bars team), and wanted to share a few more details about this singular experience. There’s nothing like this super-swanky jazz club in the City, from the next-level cocktails to the lively atmosphere to the dialed hospitality (GM Engracio Clemena and his team are operating on a special level here). You’ll ideally want to make a reservation for a table (maybe request a couple seats back from the stage for the best view and volume). There are also seats for walk-ins at the gorgeous glowing bar.
It’s a historic location—the original Dawn Club existed in the same Monadnock Building on Market Street and Annie (just by the Palace Hotel) in the 1930s and 40s. Be sure to read the history of the club, it’s unique and so legit. Now they have live music every night, ranging from trios to quintets, with swing, jazz, vocalists, and funky new bands, too. We ended up staying for almost three full sets of Fog City Swing, and if you feel like cutting a rug, there’s room for dancers up front.
You can enjoy a lagniappe (Averna, calamansi, sparkling wine) while you survey the cocktail menu by Jayson Wilde, Clemena, and team—there are some modern drinks, some spins on jazz-era cocktails, like a Clover Leaf and Boothby, and some fantastic low-proof creations, like the Besame Mucho (sparkling wine, mezcal, grapefruit, lime, Chareu aloe liqueur, and cinnamon). My tequila-loving friend was obsessed with the crushable and shaken Pancho Lopez (tequila, mezcal, Amaro Angeleno, cherry liqueur, lime, and a swell garnish that included a house-pickled Serrano pepper).
I was especially into the dessert-in-a-glass/nightcap options, including a deeeelightful Grasshopper (crème de menthe, crème de cacao, Mr. Black Espresso, mint cream foam, and Abuelita grated chocolate). But the mindblower (not on the menu—our bartender Owen Lee was hitting us with some brilliant concoctions all night...
Drinks are a pinkie out and above here, clocking in around $22. #worthit
Whiskey lovers will find a deep list (and glimmering wall of bottles) to admire, plus there’s beer, wine, and non-alcoholic options, too. I can’t wait to go back, it was so much fun. Plan a date (be sure to have a bite before or after), bring your friends, and be part of the SF revival (downtown is not dead!). Get into the spirit of things and dress a little spiffy if you feel like it, this is the perfect place for some flair. Wed–Sat 5pm–2am. 10 Annie St. at Market.
This week’s The Archivist post features a 1970 postcard from the City’s legendary Vesuvio Cafe, a long-standing staple for artists and lovers and the avant-garde. When Swiss-born Henri Lenoir first opened Vesuvio’s doors in 1948, he vowed to make it a “bohemian meeting place for artists to come to life”—and that he did, bringing the likes of Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti to the bar’s Beat scene.
Lenoir went on to fill the space with art made by his friends and fellows, including the Homer Ansley painting above (aptly named “Double Exposure”) which he went on to copyright as a promotional postcard for the café. The painting gives *cheeky* nods to two other North Beach institutions—the now-closed Vanessi’s Restaurant and Enrico’s Coffee House—along with an adorably meta reference to Vesuvio and its infamous “Booths for Psychiatrists” sign.
This iconic Columbus Avenue bar turned a whopping 75 years old this weekend, and we at tablehopper couldn’t be more thrilled to wish the Vesuvio family and community a very happy birthday . . . and what better way than with a birthday card, with a birthday suit. 😉
Written by Savannah Leone Bundy.