Two stories you don’t hear every day: A restaurant staying in business for a decade, and a restaurant lowering its prices. Monk’s Kettle has done both.
“At this point, with ten years in business, we can be efficient enough to lower [our prices] to make them more competitive,” co-owner Christian Albertson tells Eater SF. The now-established 16th Street beer bar and restaurant has cut prices on all its draft pours (by more than a dollar on more expensive ones). The food menu has been revised and prices are lower there, too.
“While we are proud of the atmosphere and the overall product we’ve created, we need to ensure that our pricing is accessible to our clientele, and we feel the need to improve in this area,” a representative for the bar wrote in a Facebook post announcing the new prices. “Now that we are about to celebrate ten years on this corner of the Mission, it’s a good time to reflect upon our own mission in the neighborhood.”
A lot has changed in ten years, and when Monk’s opened, beer in San Francisco wasn’t what it is today. “It was just Toronado at that point, and Zeitgeist, that was really it,” Albertson recalls. “We saw there was really big opportunity with [beer].”
Big stories of the past decade include the introduction of fresher, self-distributed IPAs. “Its not like people didn’t like IPAs, but once Cellarmaker and others came along, our hoppy beer selection changed a lot,” Albertson notes. “We went from depending on distributors and not knowing if something was kegged a month ago or two months ago, and now, all of our hoppy beers are kegged, delivered, and tapped within days.”
Then there are sour beers, a style Monk’s Kettle helped usher into the local mainstream with popular tasting events and more taps devoted to them. Albertson has also stressed beer education: The bar pays fees for employees to pursue the Cicerone program, a beer certification held by more than half of staff.
There are other shifting forces Albertson observes, including changes in Monk’s clientele. “When we first opened, we were a huge haunt for the [restaurant] industry,” the co-owner recalls. “[The Mission] was where all the servers lived, [and] we used to have an 11 o’clock rush.” But after an influx of higher-paid workers and steeper rents in the neighborhood, servers stopped showing up for late-night food and drink. At around the same time last year, both Monk’s and Nopa, another popular industry destination, ceased their late-night service due to lack of demand.
What’s new, and what’s picking up the slack, is delivery, Albertson claims. “Postmates, Caviar... that’s your extra.” And to compete against the many other delivery options, their prices easily comparable online, lowering food prices was a must for Monk’s Kettle.
Check out the new food menu below, and stay tuned for details on 10th anniversary events at the bar, which are in the works.