San Francisco must say goodbye to Slow Club, the Mission standby serving seasonal American to the neighborhood for the last 24 years. Owner Erin Rooney, who will continue to run Dogpatch's Serpentine, has sold the space to sommelier Paul Einbund (Frances, Octavia, Coi), who plans to open a concept called The Morris by the end of the year, Inside Scoop reports. Rooney told Eater that "the demands of a 24 year old restaurant are more than I can manage," and that she hopes the Morris thrives.
Einbund is partnering with chef Gavin Schmidt (Campton Place, Coi) to serve California Mediterranean fare, including Schmidt's favorite nose-to-tail dishes, meaning there will be pâtés and charcuterie on the menu. The duo is going for a relaxed, neighborhoody atmosphere, so of course there will be a burger, which Einbund said the two are "freakish" about getting right. As for the drinks, you can expect a similar program to Frances and Octavia (where Einbund will continue to oversee the wine programs) with rare wines on the list.
Einbund's hired architect Charles Hemminger (State Bird Provisions) and designer Scott Kester (Aster, Alta) to redo the space (and improve the noise level), including the kitchen. "Without a better kitchen there's no way to bring it up to the next level," Einbund said, but he did add that, "The goal is to turn it around fast and to do as little as possible."
There will be many mourning the loss of the iconic restaurant, which has seen the San Francisco dining scene through many ups and downs. Chris Kronner, now chef-owner of Oakland's Kronnerburger, spent three years in Slow Club's kitchen in the late '00s, and has plenty of colorful stories to tell (some of which aren't fit for public consumption), including the following:
"We once had two customers get into a shouting match about how loud one of the parties was being. One table left, but 20 minutes later one of the guys from that party snuck in through the side door and sucker punched the other guest while he was sitting at the table. It knocked him out of his chair, which led to a brawl in the streets that escalated to the point that SFPD showed up armed. We just kept cooking."
In an email sent to customers, owner Erin Rooney referenced the punches, as well as the good times, saying "I could tell a hundred stories of the soulful food, the intoxicating drinks, the heartbreaks, the punches landed (3 that I know of), but my favorites are the romances. First dates turned into wedding parties and kids starting high school. The precious everyday moments fueled by nurturing food, community and a place to hang out."
Luckily, Einbund wants to stay true to Slow Club's history. "I hope we can create a neighborhood establishment that can do justice to the Slow Club," Einbund said. Slow Club's last day is August 30, and the restaurant will turn over to Einbund when the liquor license transfers, which should be around November. Stay tuned for more updates.