Eater.com's national arm is hosting Future Week, where we'll forge ahead to think about the coming years — and decades and centuries — of dining and food. To help kick off the week, we reached out to the city's brightest stars to get their take on an important question: What do you think the future of dining in San Francisco looks like? Here now are their thoughts.
Ravi Kapur, Chef/Owner of Liholiho Yacht Club: We have such a dynamic group of chefs whose cooking is inspired by their heritage, and we also still have chefs that are committed to authentic expressions of regional ethnic cuisines through the "California" lens. However, there is a severe lack of cooks. No matter how great your ideas are or how cool your restaurant is, if there's no one to work the stoves, none of it matters.
Kim Alter, Chef/Owner of the upcoming Nightbird: We are going to have to be innovative in how we cook and address rising operating costs and staffing shortage. Whether it's with an all-inclusive tipping structure or tasting menus accounting for less food waste, we are going to have to evolve.
Melissa Perello, Chef/Owner of Frances and Octavia: I think one trend we are going to continue to see more of are newer restaurants adopting a pre-fixe menu format, similar to Petit Crenn and Trestle. People are really responding to this style of dining because it’s fun to completely put the chef and kitchen in the driver's seat of the overall experience.
Kevin Diedrich, Bartender: We will continue to see new openings, but with just as many closures. With the increases on minimum wage and the continuing climb on rent, it'll make it more difficult for smaller restaurants to stay open. You'll also see more of the blurred lines of bar-driven concepts with food, rather than the other way around.
Chris Kronner, Chef/Owner of Kronnerburger: The future of dining in San Francisco will be determined by its ability to avoid becoming a victim of its own success. As remarkable a time as this is for food and restaurants, every day it becomes more and more difficult for the people that work in those restaurants to sleep and eat near the places they work.
Michael Mina, Chef/Owner of Michael Mina, RN74, Bourbon Steak Pabu and more: Amazingly talented chefs continue to flock to the Bay which is great for our city, restaurants and of course our guests. Chefs are cooking from the heart and from their own personal experiences. This only means that the overall guest experiences will be heightened and there is no end in sight!
Josh Harris, Founding Partner of The Bon Vivants: I think we'll continue to see innovation in the area of presenting and packaging the traditional dining experience in a new and unique way, like State Bird Provisions and Lazy Bear are doing. Another exciting direction that I think will continue is that we'll see concepts that are truly creative and innovative, and unique to anything else, like Liholiho Yacht Club.
David Barzelay, Chef/Owner of Lazy Bear: Restaurant prices will increase dramatically due to much higher pay for back of house workers. Nevertheless, expensive and ambitious new restaurants will continue to open. And customers will start asking a lot more questions about sourcing and preparation, and expecting good answers.
Nick Balla, Co-chef of Bar Tartine: We have to find ways to pay our employees a living wage, provide healthy ingredients to our guests and reduce energy use. All of these can be accomplished by simplifying operationally, changing our notion of what a restaurant should be. Our favorite meals are often in places that serve one thing simply and do it well. Managing less product with less equipment allows more time to manage quality with fewer staff.
Adriano Paganini, Owner/Operator of Back of the House, Inc. (Belga, Super Duper Burger, Uno Dos Tacos and more): The future of SF dining is headed to more vegetarian/vegan concepts. Diners are more aware of the importance of food and choosing healthier options. In addition, due to the popularity of the shareable aspect of today's restaurant scene, there will also be a resurgence of the pre-fix menu, but done in a more casual and affordable way.