Permitting nightmares are de rigueur for SF restaurants before they open, but usually aren't a problem once the initial hurdles are cleared. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for The Lab (formerly known as Chocolate Lab), the Dogpatch cafe from Michael and Jacky Recchiuti, who are best known for their eponymous chocolate and confectionery company. As Inside Scoop reports, the Recchiutis attained a permit to cook in their restaurant in 2011, but regulations changed in 2012 without their knowledge. Their health inspector came through recently and informed the Recchiutis that much of what they were doing in the kitchen was verboten due to a thicket of regulations (one example: pan-frying is allowed, but not if oil is used). So, despite strong business, they've decided to go "on hiatus" until they can concoct a new use for the space that doesn't violate the permitting rules.
The permitting issue is especially frustrating because the Recchiutis had just brought on a new savory chef, Sante Salvoni, and introduced dinner service, which was improving traffic through the restaurant. They now say they're looking into relaunching The Lab as a private events space, rather than compete with the numerous neighborhood cafes offering cold lunch options; part of that may include reviving the Taste Project, Recchiuti's former series of collaboration dinners with various food makers (which have included cheese, olive oil, and spirits producers). Their Recchiuti chocolate shop in the Ferry Building and Little Nib in the Dogpatch remain open.
· Recchiuti's Dogpatch cafe The Lab goes on hiatus [Inside Scoop]
· One Year In: Michael & Jacky Recchiuti of The Lab [~ ESF ~]
· Check Out Chocolate Lab's New Menus [~ ESF ~]