100 Brannan St - kiss of death location
- Benny Choi Sep 9, 2007 11:47 AM
We talked about this before and I wanted to see if others had more opinions about this.
100 Brannan Street is along the South Beach waterfront, near the AT&T ball park. There have been a long list of restaurants which have set up shop and then closed down, with one exception being Slanted Door. As posted by others in the previous thread (plus some web sleuthing), this location has housed:
Embarko (late '80s, early '90s) - thrived before '89 earthquake, then suffered from freeway changes
Short lived Italian place called something like "Prego, Pizza, Pasta & More"
Pickled Ginger (1997) - pan Asian by chef Andrew Toy and Bayside Restaurant Resources (a Bulow connection?), including Chinese, Korean, and Filipino influences. There may have also been a "Ginger Express" at this location, based on some obscure web listings.
Live Fire (2000) - chef Fred Halpert's attempt for an SF location of his Yountville restaurant serving steak and wood fired pizza.
The Slanted Door (2002) - the only restaurant in the past decade to make this location successful, due in large part to the existing fan base of chef Charles Pham's trendy Vietnamese food. This was essentially a temporary location, first to wait out the earthquake retrofitting and refurbishment of their original Valencia St location, and then later to wait for the eventual Ferry Building facility to finish remodeling.
La Suite (2004) - Jocelyn Bulow's attempt at a larger restaurant (sibling to Chez Papa and Chez Mama), starting with chef Bruno Chemel, and later chef David Bazirgan, featuring French brasserie cuisine
Sutra (2006) - Bulow's makeover attempt at French-Asian Fusion, starting with chef Mike Yakura (previously of Le Colonial) and later chef Yo Matsuzaki (previously of Ozumo). Recently closed.
On the bright side for this location, there are even more condos in the neighborhood, Beale Street under the Bay Bridge has been reopened which alleviates some afternoon traffic, and the parking lot next door got a minor makeover.
Discouraging for this location, the Giants are terrible this year. The nearby planned cruise ship terminal development is indefinitely delayed due to the withdrawal of the private developer from the city's partnership deal. Nearby Java House may get shut down from jacked up rents by the Port.
I really think this location can only work for a place with a price point that neighboring residents can afford to eat at frequently, and is welcoming in atmosphere and space configuration to Giants fans who walk by on game days.
)100 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA 94107
40 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133
We went to Embarko fairly often when I worked in that neighborhood - I loved their salmon croquettes. I understood that they closed rather abruptly due to some sort of tax problem. It certainly does seem to be a doomed location!
The Giants continue to sell out their games on a regular basis (including at least some of the games this weekend, well after Barry broke the record.) Their lack of success in the standings is NOT reflected in their box office and thus they can't be blamed even in part for the location's lack of success (unless it is a general curse on the neighborhood.....)
Seems like the good restaurants were succesful in that location, based on your list and description.
La Suite was frequently not so good; Sutro never lived up to its price, and those extra long seats were uncomfortable - so was the looped techno pop.
But there we have it - really a pretty good location but overpriced. Difficult to buy top drawer ingredients when rent's eating your lunch.
I enjoyed the view from the bar.
This was a neighborhood that changed a lot in the years I lived there (mid-80's to mid-2000). Embarko was ahead of its time. Slanted Door, besides coming in with its own rep, was perfect for the current denizens. La Suite was too much. Slanted Door proves this can be a sucessfull location with the correct price-point and good food.
Robert is absolutely correct about Embarko...it opened in 1989 and lasted until 1995 when the owners overextended themselves by opening Trudy's in Berkeley. I ran the line at night there from somewhere in early 1990 until spring of '91. The place was good and quite successful for at least four years.
Right, I was just thinking that whenever I'm in Delancey Street it's bustling while 100 Brannan has cobwebs across the doors.
Come to think of it, could Delancey Street be part of the problem? Since they're a training program with, essentially, subsidized (albeit self-subsidized) wages and lease, which are reflected in relatively low prices, and since they're actually pretty tasty, could they just be sucking up all the restaurant dollars from that end of the neighborhood?
When I lived there I used to eat at Pickled Ginger quite often. I still miss the Poke salad, Salmon Tartare, and the desserts. Pickled Ginger Express was a mistake for them that may have lost them too much money. Tough location to succeed at I guess.