The difficulties faced by San Francisco restaurants have become part of an increasingly familiar story, as high rents, labor costs and taxes have made operating a restaurant in the city more of a struggle. And often, hotel restaurants offer an attractive alternative, with a built-in cushion for restaurateurs. Recently, that changed for restaurants BDK and Dirty Habit, as Kimpton hotels lost their contracts with both Hotel Monaco and Hotel Palomar.
Last week Inside Scoop reported a shakeup at Kimpton Hotel property Hotel Monaco and its restaurant BDK. The restaurant opened only a few months ago, under the purview of chef Heather Terhune (a Top Chef alum) and bar manager Kevin Diedrich (Jasper's Bar + Kitchen), revealing a glossy, tavern-style restaurant in the former Grand Cafe space. Now, the entire staff has reportedly left the restaurant, including Terhune, Diedrich and the kitchen and bar crews after the hotel was de-branded to The Marker hotel overnight. Apparently the switcheroo is part of a union dispute related to Kimpton's recent acquisition by InterContinental Hotels Group; the hotel is now operated by Destination Hotels, a Colorado-based hotel management group.
Diedrich says that the switch immediately sparked changes that many people did not agree with, prompting the departure of the restaurant's entire opening team. Kimpton has not been particularly forthcoming on the changes, but because BDK's name is composed Kimpton's founder's initials, it seems reasonable to expect a name (and possibly concept) change in the near future. No word yet on where Terhune or Diedrich will land next, though it might be a safe to say it won't be at a hotel— this is the second time Diedrich has been burned by hotel property shakeups, after Jaspers Corner Tavern switched management in 2014.
Meanwhile, a second Kimpton property is experiencing a similar fate. Hotel Palomar and its restaurant Dirty Habit will no longer be affiliated with Kimpton, effective July 28. Similarly, union disputes seem to be at the heart of this change, though Kimpton representatives have been tightlipped on the subject. Now the hotel and restaurant will be managed by Benchmark Hospitality International, and renamed as Hotel Zelos. However, chef David Bazirgan told Inside Scoop that nothing will change at his restaurant, saying that "he has no reason to go anywhere" after meeting with the new property managers several weeks ago.
As for Kimpton's other properties in San Francisco, Hotel Chatter reports that the Buchanan and Sir Francis Drake are already unionized, and thus safe from rebranding, while The Argonaut, The Tuscan and their restaurants could be next.