Just in time for Alembic's nine year anniversary, the Upper Haight bar and restaurant's long-awaited expansion is finally complete. Owner Dave McLean (Magnolia, Smokestack) started the expansion after Red Vic's closure made the next-door real estate available. "We needed the space," McLean told Eater. "It's always been kind of cramped and we made the best of it, but we also had to turn a lot of people away." The look was spearheaded by interior designer and branding specialist Kevin Landwehr, who also worked on Smokestack and Magnolia's redesign. Now, McLean said "all of the places look related, but with their own identity and personality."
The remodel happened in slow motion, starting with the kitchen, which was closed for most of 2014. It reopened last November with two new walk-ins (the bar and kitchen shared one before) and a new prep area, which gives new chef Dave Faro, who was promoted from sous chef after longtime chef Ted Fleury left in August, a little more freedom. "The intention was to have a seamless transition," McLean says. "But of course the food will continue to evolve to become Dave's own." That includes one or two larger-format dishes each night in order to accommodate the larger parties Alembic now expects.
Next was the expansion and refresh of the space, the final push of which happened in late August during a brief shutter. The most obvious change included cutting through the wall and adding a dedicated dining room with 26 more seats that removes diners from the hustle of the bar. There are four cozy booths that seat four, a larger booth in back and a communal table for six to eight people near the front. "Before all we had was a bunch of two tops we pushed around," for large groups, McLean said. The back of the original space has also been reconfigured with a couple of mini booths for two.
Though the expansion is technically complete, McLean said not to get too comfortable. "The little details ... will keep evolving," he explained. The Alembic's hours are 4 p.m.- 2 a.m., Monday to Friday; 12 p.m.- 2 a.m., Saturday and Sunday. Lunch is served on the weekends until 4 p.m. and dinner is served every night from 5 p.m. to midnight.