• Ladies who Lunch

    And by lunch, we mean the women who are making the incredible meals and developing the innovative experiences we fancy so much. Last weekend’s warm spell reminded us of this quote from Julia Child:


            “I think every woman should have a blow torch.”

    …and how much HEAT the women in hospitality are bringing to the table. As an all female operation at ABC License Co., we are especially proud. We’d like to take a few moments to give props to some of the amazing women in food here in the Bay Area.

    One of the best additions to the dining scene in Oakland, and frankly, beyond, has been Juhu Beach Club. An exciting concept that Chef Preeti Mistry & partner Ann Nadeau have executed beautifully. It’s an easy restaurant to become something of a regular… quality casual at its best.

    While we’re in the East Bay, we’d be remiss not to speak on Tanya Holland, that sparkling queen of soul food who gave us the stellar brunch at Brown Sugar Kitchen off Mandela Parkway. She’s one of the more socially active women in food, in terms of events and public commentary. Hers is a voice we can do with more of, to be sure. And, BSK is a go-to for some dudes who play basketball in Oakland. Curry is more than a spice at Brown Sugar Kitchen. #warriorsground

    Speaking of the Warriors, Red Dog is Lauren Kiino’s casual FiDi location and has plenty of love for Golden State. You can catch the rest of the semifinals from a comfortable bar stool with a scotch egg and a scotch. (Why not?)

    And we’ve got much love for Kim Alter, whose cuisine we incidentally had the pleasure of enjoying this January at a baby shower for our web designer Never Trust a Dame and babydaddy pastry king Bill Corbett at Plum Bar. Sometimes the Bay Area food scene feels a heck of a lot like fantasy. Kim’s forthcoming Nightbird is just finishing up, so stay tuned for her own bundle of joy coming to Hayes Valley this summer.

    The La Cocina ladies are always doing good things at El Huarache Loco at Larkspur Landing and Los Cilantros on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley. Both Mexicanas are making fabulous plates with skill and love. Also, sometimes Dilsa has the most divine alfajores at Los Cilantros.

    Beer! We’re huge fans of Local Brewing on Bluxome Street in SF. Regan Long, brewmaster, and Sarah Fenson are brewing fantastic beer that we’re sure you’ve seen at some of your favorite watering holes throughout the city. This team runs a tight ship, something we can appreciate very much from the licensing side of things.

    Dry though it may be, there are also a lot of women we work with every day on the business side to get these projects going. Escrow queens Linda Chrisman, Tiffany Criger, & Elizabeth McGovern; lawyers extraordinaire Lisa Liu of The Mitzel Group and Roberta Economidis with Georgopoulos & Economidis who keep the business structures legitimate. One of our greatest mentors, the inimitable Lynne Carmichael, truly the grand dame of all things alcoholic beverage law. And the lovely real estate brokers who find the right locations for all this fine fare, especially over at Colliers Intl. & CGI. We’re still reeling over the loss of beautiful Karen Hoke, a one-of-a-kind individual who hustled the real estate game harder than most and was a delight to enjoy a bottle of champs with.

    Many thanks and our eternal support to all of the women who make their mark on this industry in any capacity. Keep it up, ladies. And fire up those blow torches.

    -ABC License Company

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  • Red Wine & Roses & Whisky & Kittens…

    If you’ve ever worked with me before, you know that I’m passionate about the fruition of your heavenly culinary visions.  Well, the buck doesn’t stop here.  Passion courses through my veins for a great many things.  Here’s a list of five things I’m crazy for lately, inspired by my clients.  Agree, disagree, discuss? Yes, let’s!

    1.  Pop-Up Shops
      Ah, the Pop-Up…  the perfect place for visionaries to hone their delivery of niche goods.  (I love niche markets, in case you hadn’t noticed!)  One of my favorites is Umami Mart in Old Oakland.  From humble beginnings as a blog, Umami Mart opened in 2012 as a marketplace of Japanese bar & kitchenware.  Each piece is a divine blend of function and design, and I am thrilled to see what fabulous Yoko Kumano + Kayoko Akabori curate with each new shipment. I hope to see you next Tuesday the 25th at the Party of the Year opening of their new U-Mart combini, a mini Japanese-style convenient market!
    2. Demystifying Wine & Cocktails
      The spirits scene can get terribly pretentious, and sometimes simplifying the ins-and-outs of this industry can be a most elegant innovation.  Bluxome Street Winery is a veritable treasure chest of wine education, and in such an approachable way.  One of their most unique options is to purchase ‘by the barrel’, allowing hobbyists and other non-pro winemakers to take a legitimate stab at wine-making.  They provide the grapes and pressing, and you take part in the tasting and labeling process.  The final product is a barrel of your own label, bottled to your liking (and certainly an unforgettable experience).  Look forward to a special blend from your favorite ABC consultant one of these days (probably a peppery Zinfandel style).  Also, don’t miss their Friday Night Summer Music & Food Truck Series, which is as simply delightful as it sounds and more.
    3. Replacing OR with AND
      It used to be that you could go see great music OR eat & drink proper.  Thankfully, this is no longer the rule as venues and restaurants step up their game on both fronts.  Phil Lesh, yes that one, is having tremendous success at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads, a venue with excellent food reviews and the stuff of music legend.    They offer a well-rounded menu and brunch offering.  Also improving on the typical venue experience, the boys at Monarch SF are consistently upgrading the space and providing an excellent craft cocktail program in an otherwise questionable neighborhood to hang out after dark, which brings me to my next favorite thing:
    4. Good Food in Bad Hoods
      Monarch does this particularly well, in bringing a good thing to a bad neighborhood without conveying an ignorance or delusion about the reality of these areas and their residents.  Other clients of mine have had great success in similar environments, namely West Oakland champion & media darling Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen and now the absolutely delicious B-Side BBQ on San Pablo in West Oakland.  Chef Daniel Patterson has led the transformation of a main drag of Broadway in Uptown Oakland with the opening of Plum in 2010 and a Market Street neighborhood spot in Soma/Tenderloin of SF slated to open its doors this fall.
    5. Food Trucks
      I give much credit to the brick-and-mortar establishments, but in my mind the next culinary wave is going mobile.  (Bluxome Street Winery’s Friday night events bring together rotating food trucks and wine pairing from their stock.) I’m especially enthralled as the city and restaurateurs scramble to figure out how to license these premises for alcohol sales.  The possibilities are incredible… we can already enjoy beer, wine, or a rum n’ coke on the the Blue & Gold Fleet ferries, Amtrak cafe cars, or the ever-classy mini airline bottles.  Mix the food & bar industry’s obsession with quality and innovation with the proper vehicle (literally!) and I think we’ll see a revolution of culinary experience.
      Because the one thing that we can count on California chefs and restaurateurs for is innovation, that essential ingredient to succeeding out here in the wild west. And the dynamic industry provides a richness to life that I just wouldn’t want to live without.

    Thanks for reading, my darlings. And please join me next time as I interview the San Francisco ABC District Administrator, Justin Gebb and hear a rarely given ABC perspective on alcohol beverage licensing as we know it. This is a must read!


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