If you love the Lazy Bear experience, but can’t always commit to the price tag attached (at least $200 per person, before drinks), then you have a lot to be excited about. That’s because chef/owner David Barzelay and bar manager Nicolas Torres announced earlier this year that they’d be opening a cocktail-focused restaurant in the old Tradesman space (753 Alabama St.) come 2017.
Details were sparse at the time — basically just boiling down to the fact that they were opening this project — but Barzelay and Torres have now leaked a little more about what to expect. Though there’s still no name (the whimsical Flower Shop name on the liquor license is the company behind it, not the space name), the concept is firmly in place, and Torres is the star of this spot’s show, which should be exciting since his unique, elaborate cocktails unfortunately tend to get overlooked at Lazy Bear.
There will be two distinct experiences, a la Lazy Bear’s upstairs and downstairs separations. At the new place, though, those two experiences are separated by a la carte drink and food offerings at the larger of the two bars and tables (about 32 seats), and a ticketed cocktail and paired food tasting menu at an eight to ten seat bear toward the back, both with different drinks and food.
The a la carte area is the more accessible portion of the concept, and will have an “extensive” menu of cocktails and a more curated list of spirits, accompanied by “upscale San Francisco bar food” that’s casual but technique-driven. You’ll see the same commitment to wild and cultivated local ingredients as you do at Lazy Bear, but in a much more casual application. This is the area where industry friends and diners can just drop by for drinks and some food.
As for the tasting menu bar, Barzelay calls it the “more aspirational and unique side of the space.” He and Torres are flipping the script and pairing snacks with five cocktails instead of the other way around. It will be a “highly seasonal” and ticketed experience, and come with the signature Lazy Bear spiels on each cocktail — the spirits and producers, the produce, the techniques, and tasting notes — as the bartenders make the five drinks (which will include smaller-format and lower ABV options), all with the goal of facilitating conversation. Small, “refined” snacks that pair with the drinks are part of the experience, but it won’t be enough for a full meal. It’s “a great pre-dinner or post-dinner experience,” according to Barzelay.
The 1,600-square-foot space, which already contains original woodwork done by Tradesman owner Zarin Gollogy (who also helped Barzelay with many of the design components at Lazy Bear), will be softened by plants, flowers, fabrics, and art for a more “lived-in” feel. Herbs will grow in trays that hang under the skylights, lowered with pulleys so they have access to exceptionally fresh herbs during prep and potentially service. “We’re aiming things a bit more midcentury rather than industrial, design-wise,” Barzelay said. And when the weather is nice, there will be additional a la carte sidewalk seating.
The pair is staying mum so far on what exactly they will be serving (pray for a Barzelay burger!), as well as the prices associated, but they did say they wanted the place to be more accessible. Right now the two are targeting a May opening; stay tuned for more.