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Inside Waxman's Restaurant and Café, Ghirardelli Square’s New Hope for the Future

Jonathan Waxman is back in town, and he's on a mission

Waxman's, chef Jonathan Waxman's first San Francisco restaurant, has opened its doors in Ghirardelli Square's Mustard Building. It's a homecoming for the chef, who grew up in Berkeley and has fond memories of spending time at the square in its heyday. Now the ailing square, which has lost relevance in recent years, is getting a revamp at the hands of Jamestown, the development group behind projects like Chelsea Market in New York and Atlanta's Ponce City Market. With several projects currently in the works, Waxman's serves as the project's anchor, leveraging the chef's celebrity status and Bay Area history to draw in locals and tourists alike.

The historic, 6,500 square-foot space is divided between a 110-seat restaurant and a 75-seat fast-casual cafe (plus an outdoor patio for 60) designed by Boor Bridges Architecture and Waxman. Original brick from the 1890s, soaring ceilings with atriums and huge windows that look into the center of the square are part of the effort to mingle the historic building with the new vibe at the square. Tables and counters are crafted from cypress and reclaimed redwood logs, complementing original columns built with 130-year old Douglas Fir. More wood graces the wall, in the form of enormous medallions cut from a felled cypress tree from artist Evan Shively.

The restaurant's opening menu (check it out here) highlights a classic mix of Waxman's "Cal-Ital" style, featuring a selection of handmade pastas, grilled and wood oven roasted meats, and Waxman's signature JW roasted chicken with salsa verde. Wines are curated by David Lynch (St. Vincent), featuring a bevy of California and West Coast bottles mixed in with French and Italian selections. There'll be 20 wines by the glass, as well as local beers and craft cocktails from Patrick Poelvoorde (Park Tavern).

Hours of operation are 5 p.m.- 10 p.m., Sunday- Wednesday and 5 p.m.- 11 p.m., Thursday- Saturday; the bar opens at 4 p.m. every day.

Waxman's Restaurant & Cafe

, San Francisco, CA 94109 (415) 636-9700