Though office space in eastern SOMA is going at a crazy clip these days, there still aren't too many spots to serve area workers' lunchtime needs, especially compared to the wealth of places in the Financial District. But Natalia Bushyager, Jesse Nichols, and Leigh Loper are hoping to change that with their new lunch spot Picnic, which will offer hot takeaway meals made with culinary chops at a reasonable price point. "I didn't see a lot of good lunch options in the area for workers," says Bushyager. "There are a lot of chains, or places where you can end up spending $50 on lunch."
Bushyager has plenty of experience feeding hungry techies: a former Chez Panisse intern who was on the opening team at Camino, she worked for two years as the executive chef of Rebecca Jean Catering, where she built the company's office catering business. Alongside friend and co-chef Loper, who trained at Quince and Foreign Cinema, she'll be serving up fare like bulgogi rice bowls with housemade kimchi and juniper-crusted pork loin with butternut squash bread pudding.
The plan is for Picnic to open in the early morning, when they'll serve Contraband coffee, egg sandwiches, and pastries from a local purveyor, then shift into lunch mode with 8-12 prepared options that local workers can take back to their desks or enjoy at one of the handful of tables (the space will seat about 30). At dinnertime, Bushyager and Loper will offer healthy meals to take away, sized to feed groups of two, four, or six; they may also offer some charcuterie and small bites for happy hour. Nichols, Bushyager's husband, is helping her put together a small beer and wine program, with three drafts from local producers like Armstrong and MateVeza, a handful of wines by the glass, and bottles for the dinner crowd to take home and enjoy in the evening.
The space will be designed by Larson Shores Architecture, most recently responsible for Homestead in Oakland, and will have a similar feel. Picnic is the first phase in a bigger plan for Bushyager and Nichols, who are graffiti enthusiasts and hope to eventually open Tag'd, a SOMA boutique hotel in which each room is designed and decorated by a different graffiti artist. In the meantime, they're working hard to get the space (which requires a full buildout) off the ground, and expect that their opening won't likely go down until next April.
· Picnic [Official website]