Despite its diminutive presence in a residential neighborhood in Oakland, Grocery Café has gotten a significant amount of attention for owner William Lue's flavorful Burmese cooking. (For instance, the recent addition of the chef's food to the menu at Starline Social Club.) Now the Burmese chef-owner is planning a café in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, at 393 Eddy, at the corner of Leavenworth.
A far cry from the quiet, house-lined streets of his first restaurant's location, this particular stretch of the gritty neighborhood is where Lue spent many years living with his family, after arriving in SF from Burma. Now Lue will open a restaurant featuring "pan-Asian" cuisine, including quick and homey dishes, like noodles and rice. The new restaurant will include more seating than Grocery Café, though at first it will focus on takeout and delivery. Lue also plans to provide jobs for residents of the neighborhood in an effort to help them get back on their feet. Right now, it's slated for a possible mid-February opening.
Back in Oakland, Lue plans to expand his original space to include an outdoor rotisserie grill, plus 19 additional seats, on the sidewalk. The idea is to bring the distinct flavors of Burmese street food, including skewers of meat marinated with lemongrass, cilantro and shallots. Following the recent success of Lue's fundraising campaign on Kiva, the outdoor "Burmese barbecue" space should be complete sometime in April. Stay tuned for more details on Lue's forthcoming expansions.