Hang on to your hats: it looks like hot on the heels of Magnolia and Smokestack's opening in the Dogpatch, another sizable new restaurant, events space, and booze-production facility is headed to the happening 'hood. Restaurateur Kurt Huffman, who's the brains behind leading Portland restaurant group ChefStable, is teaming up with Bi-Rite's Sam Mogannam, the folks behind Napa Valley Distillery, and renewable energy financier Adam Mendelson on a massive, 12,000-square-foot project in a former boiler factory at Third and 19th, which will house a new restaurant, room for 400-500 person events, an active small-batch distillery, a rooftop bar, and a catering service.
As the Oregonian reports, Huffman was lured to the Dogpatch due to its similarities to Portland's Pearl District, citing the open nature of the neighborhood and the massive influx of wealth to the city. As a bonus, the announcement of the Warriors stadium move to Mission Bay would put the new project in prime territory to reap rewards from that project. It's actually Huffman's second expansion outside of Portland; he opened Seattle steakhouse Miller's Guild last year. In Portland, he's responsible for Ox (which was the Oregonian's 2013 Restaurant of the Year and which earned a James Beard longlist appearance for Best New Restaurant in 2013 and a Food & Wine Best New Chef prize for chefs Greg Denton & Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton in 2014), sandwich mini-chain Lardo, Oven & Shaker, Ración, and many more.
Update, 3:16 pm: We chatted on the phone with Huffman, who's currently visiting L.A., to learn more about his plans. Having attended grad school in the Bay Area, opening a space in SF has long been on his radar, but it took the encouragement of his friend Mendelson, who will be a managing partner, as well as the experience he's gained in Portland, to take the leap. "We've grown up a lot, and we've learned a lot. I wouldn't have done it before now. It's a world-class city…if you want to come here, you need to have something to say."
While potential chefs for the still-unnamed 100-seat restaurant remain in the interview phase, Huffman says the restaurant portion is intended to be informal and affordable, citing Nopa as a touchpoint. "No foams, no sous-vide, nothing super-expensive...Dining isn't about the ego, it's about the guest's experience." The cuisine style will depend on the choice of chef, but he'd like to bring in a Grillworks wood-fired grill to be the center of the room and the menu, as it is at Ox and Miller's Guild. "Re-examined steakhouse" is one concept he's tossing around, but nothing is final.
Napa Valley Distillery will have a small satellite space within the building, where they'll be distilling a full range of products featured at the bar and on the cocktail menu, while Bi-Rite's role will be as a caterer, handling the parties and events held in the space from a central catering kitchen. "They're an absolute slam dunk when it comes to catering, and a huge part of why we decided to do this," Huffman says. Due to permitting, the rooftop bar is actually more of a stretch goal than a set plan ("If we do it, we almost certainly won't open with it"), but an upstairs private-events room will not only boast its own bar, but sliding window and door panels that will essentially make it open to the air, and a view of the Bay.
Planning and permitting for the space is underway right now (the Warriors stadium announcement, which came a week before the lease was signed, was a happy surprise for the team), and Huffman says his best guess is that it'll open in roughly a year—May 2015. We'll keep you posted on a chef announcement, name, and opening date.