Not content to confine its socializing to SOMA penthouses and Pac Heights mansions or to that whole private club it just started, SF's tech oligarchy has found another new, too-cool-for-the-plebes hangout: Marianne's, the semi-secret back room of The Cavalier. As the SF Business Times reports, the hidden speakeasy has become the respite of choice for what passes in this city as bold-faced names: it's where Jack Dorsey went to celebrate the Twitter IPO, Tyler Florence holds secret DJ sessions, and Ron Conway brings all of his potential clients. And it's only accessible through a private entry with a secret key code, which we are decidedly not cool enough to have. (We weren't given access to photograph it back when the restaurant opened, either.)
Themed after the Rolling Stones' album cover for Beggar's Banquet and named for British rock icon Marianne Faithfull, the room's charm is purportedly more shaggy than chic, but that hasn't kept owner Anna Weinberg (who's also responsible for Marlowe and Park Tavern) from cheerfully declaring it "the millionaire's hostel." Weinberg's husband James Nicholas says it's the perfect place to do a deal, "because [he sees] it happening in the restaurant on an almost daily basis," with a clientele that includes the founders of Yelp, Instagram, and PayPal. It certainly seems like a boy's club—of the 10 members mentioned in the article, the only woman is septuagenarian socialite Denise Hale, who's apparently changed her tune since she stated in Vanity Fair a few months back that "[Techies] bore the hell out of me ...They're one-dimensional and can only talk about one thing."
Though it's become a popular private-event space, hosting visits by the likes of Kobe Bryant, Marianne's hasn't necessarily been without its bad behavior: during Florence's DJ set, the 60-person space apparently became so packed with people that a sink was ripped out of the bathroom wall. Weinberg also touts it as a place where the elite can "end up in a private club late night until all hours," which sounds to us like a less-than-private code for a place that serves booze after the 2 a.m. cutoff. The key code is only distributed to "friends of the restaurant group and its owners, frequent diners, selected hotel guests and those judged to be sufficiently influential," according to the Business Times, so don't expect to darken the door of Marianne's in the near future. As an alternative, we recommend mulling the irony of supposedly "innovative" young tech types choosing to spend their free time in a restaurant themed after the British aristocracy.
· The secret S.F. room where tech deals get made [SF Business Times]
· Waspy Pac Heights Culture Clash: Tech Bravado vs. Old Guard [Vanity Fair]
· Inside The Cavalier, An Aristocratic British Clubhouse [~ ESF ~]