the Chronicles

  • Ready for This?

    We’re rolling into 2016 full steam ahead, and wanted to share some of the projects you can look forward to this year, assisted by yours truly. More good things coming from a lot of our repeat clients, making the world a more delicious and/or drunken place again and again (and again…).

    Umberto Gibin & Staffan Terje, in addition to being lovely human beings, know their way around a successful restaurant. Volta is a stunning space, the result of a complete renovation at 868 Mission. It practically begs to be photographed. [See above.] And then there’s the food — French brasserie with Scandinavian influences — these veterans from Perbacco & Barbacco can make a damn good plate of it.

    We’re in awe of Charles Bilillies & crew. They’ve nailed a great concept, affordable yet fab food, and they execute it with aplomb. We brought our friends from the SFPD there one afternoon which kicked off almost weekly lunches enjoyed by the Department… so you can assume they’re running a legit operation.  Charles is readying to open on Divis and there’s serious talk for a third location in the near future. Join us in praying that it’s Oakland.

    Alvin Garcia & Tom Patella have been busy bees running Causwell’s on Chestnut, opening Popson’s on Market (Alvin’s solo project just next door to Tommy Kneecap’s upcoming joint, Waystone). If you can’t wait until March to try the famous Popson’s burger, you’re in luck because a pop up take over of the old Marlowe Burger at 330 Townsend in Soma is now open. Gentlemen, your Adriano Paganini background is showing. And we couldn’t be happier about it.

    Telefèric Barcelona
    Authentic Basque cuisine is now in… Walnut Creek? Most of our clients are consummate hospitality purveyors, but Xavi Padrosa impressed when he shared his uni risotto with us during a preliminary meeting. Telefèric Barcelona has already made a name for itself as a lively, positively scrumptious destination and they’ve been open for literally 11 days.

    Gasp! The Monarch team bought Mighty! They’re flossing it out in signature Monarch fashion and certainly have some cool ideas in mind, many of which even we are not privy to. Whatever it is, it will be damn good.

    Warren Rector of Portal in Oakland opens Philomena on 14th Ave, Oakland, in February. Portal has been a major player in East Bay beer enjoyment and rather wonderful food on their sprawling patio.  Warren creates the type of places you feel at home immediately and for the long haul, which may or may not be a good thing when you start boozing at 11.

    Barcha has been around for a while, but they are going through some upgrades including procuring a distilled spirits license. Santé! Peter Steiner is responsible for the bar program at Barcha, which will certainly be a hit amongst the faithful clientele from Barcha & Sens.

    Welp, that should keep you busy for a while. Good god, it’s hard to keep up! Here’s to a delicious & interesting 2016!

    ABC License Company


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  • A Year in Review

    Bringing Dreams to Life

    It’s been quite the year for restaurants, and the busiest yet for the elves over here at ABC License Company. Eater SF is right, it El Niño-ed Michelin stars in SF (congrats to Kusakabe, Mourad, Atelier Crenn, Aster, & Lazy Bear from our fab client list btw).  We’re extremely proud to have helped so many dreams become a reality this year.

    Here’s a list of some of our favorite 2015 openings, in no particular order:

    One of the most innovative projects we’ve worked on with their progressive hiring strategy of staffing with individuals who have a conviction history, a move inspired by GM Emma Rosenbush. This is helping address the staff shortage so many Bay Area restaurants are finding while doing a social good, all in a very much for-profit environment. And the food is excellent. Amazing work that these boss ladies are doing.

    149 Fell Street, San Francisco

    Their family-style, blind tasting menu is one of the best social dinner activities we’ve tried, and we love the bar program here. Whether you go with a seasonal cocktail or explore the impressive wine list, passion comes through here in every aspect of the experience.

    8 Mint Plaza, San Francisco

    Team Paganini strikes again with the downtown outpost of Delarosa. It’s always so inspiring to watch Back of the House, Inc. navigate expansions; their restaurant business acumen is unparalleled.  And this is easily BART-able for us, because Oakland.

    37 Yerba Buena Ln, San Francisco

    Speaking of Oakland, there is some KILLER Oaxacan food at 23rd & Broadway. There’s a wall of tequila & mezcal to explore and the Queso Flameado Con Huitlacoche appetizer is life-changing.

    2337 Broadway, Oakland
    Teleferic Barcelona
    A little further east and you’ll find phenomenal Basque food in Walnut Creek! Their 2nd floor patio is perfect for a leisurely meal under the stars in the Basque tradition.

    1500 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Walnut Creek

    SF Wine School
    Their new facility in South San Francisco is elegant and spacious, the perfect place to delve a little (or a whole hell of a lot) deeper into your wine education. If this helps keep the Bay Area one of the most knowledgeable wine regions in the world, you can be sure we are 100% behind it!

    415 Grand Ave, Suite 301, South San Francisco

    Brett Cooper’s new spot is gorgeous and approachable. Definitely save room for dessert.

    1001 Guerrero, San Francisco

    Coco Frio
    Venezuelan cuisine by a chef formerly of Nobu, A16, Quince & Coi? What more do you need to know? Full bar & tasting menu option, because one of our resolutions is to make less decisions in the new year.

    2937 Mission Street, San Francisco

    What does 2016 have in store?

    We can’t wait to announce some of the projects we’re lining up for next year…

    Hope you’re enjoying your holiday season however you like it best.

    ABC License Company

  • Thanksgiving in Stories

    Oh Thanksgiving… it’s one American Holiday we at ABC License Company can get behind. We’ve all hosted before, an anxiety inducing, Xanax-taking, stabbing bystanders with a fork-type of affair for us non-pros, but consistently some of our favorite dinners for the good company, the delicious food coma, and the stories. One of our go-to recipes is Marilyn Monroe’s Sutter Street Stuffing.

    Not only a piece of classic Americana, it’s also incredibly delicious. Sourdough, because San Francisco, soaked and shredded, raisins, parmesan, liver & heart, and a host of other ingredients that, all told, fill 15 ramekins when ready to assemble.The recipe likely came to be in 1956, during Marilyn’s marriage to Joe Dimaggio, and is written on a notepad from City Title Insurance Company located at 68 Sutter Street in San Francisco, which, incidentally, is just around the corner from the Dept. of ABC SF District Office!


    We asked a few of our favorite restaurateur clients to share their stories. Here’s what we heard…

    We already love Kim Alter of the forthcoming Nightbird for her boss kitchen skills and genuinely lovely personality, and this story endears us to her even more:

    My biggest nightmare story would probably be about 10 years ago I had an “orphan thanksgiving.”  To make everyone feel better about being away from their families I asked each guest (14 of them!) what their family always made, what was their family tradition.  Most of them said normal dishes, like mashed potatoes, green beans, etc.  One of my friends said Divinity.  I didn’t have a clue what that was.  I found out it’s a meringue-like candy.  So I went and got myself a candy thermometer and a recipe from a friend.  I was all ready to make it, along with everything else, until Thanksgiving Day was like 70 degrees (in November!!) with humidity.  No matter what I did this stupid candy sucked.  I was so focused and stressed about this candy that I spent most of the day trying to make it work. At the end, it wasn’t great, but everyone was touched I tried to make them feel at home.


    Hugh Groman of the eponymous catering company and Phil’s Sliders has another great (in retrospect) story.

    We were going to Lake Tahoe to spend Thanksgiving with our dear family friends, which we did every year as a wonderful tradition.  I was about 6, the youngest of 4 kids.  By the time we got all packed and left our house in Lafayette for the 3 hour drive, it was late afternoon. I was bundled up in the back of the station wagon (no seat belts, of course).  About 2 hours into the trip, someone realized that the turkey had been left on top of the freezer in the garage back home.  I think we figured that it would be a real problem with raccoons etc. to leave it there for a week, so my parents made the decision to turn around, haul the whole family back to Lafayette to rescue the turkey. Never did that again.

    Well, we can’t imagine anything more fun than an 8 hour road trip with 4 darling children.  Speaking of turkeys….

    The Turkey

    Scott McFadin, the man behind a cool collection of East Bay pubs (Kensington Circus Pub & Barney McBears Social Club), recommends this killer turkey recipethat chefs and normal humans alike will love.  Once you stuff yourself and your guests on the day of, Charles Bililies of Greek-coffee-cup-frozen-yogurt-having, mouth-watering Souvla & his lady Jen Pelka have a great recipe for your turkey bones, an Easier to Write Than Say Turkey Avgolemono (emphasis ours), a delicious, heart-warming soup considered by many to be “Greek Penicillin”.

    And Mourad Lahlou has some opinions on the fowl (surprising, we know). In an interview with Food Republic, he offered this colorful exchange:

    Food Republic: Let’s be honest. Turkey is a difficult protein, right?
    Mourad Lahlou: It’s a fucking horrible protein. It’s like the worst protein. I don’t even understand why people…

    FR: Tradition?
    ML: Well, I get that it’s tradition. But it’s dry and people spend $150 on a fucking turkey. “Oh, this is heritage turkey!” It’s still fucking turkey at the end of the day. But you know what? That’s what makes Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. I’ve gotten to understand that and kind of appreciate that.

    FR: Give me some tips for cooking on Thanksgiving…
    ML: I think that the best thing you can do is to prepare everything ahead of time. If you’re not having more fun than your guests, it’s not worth it.

    Amen to that. Wishing every host the most fun this year, and may you all enjoy bountiful food and drink with friends or family.

    We are thankful to know you. Happy Holidays!

    – ABC License Company

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