Continuing San Francisco’s sushi boom this spring will be Robin, née The Starling, a seasonal omakase restaurant in Hayes Valley. Chef/owner Adam Tortosa (Akiko’s, 1760) is behind the project, which was announced in July as The Starling. But following a cease and desist from another bar of the same name in Sonoma, Tortosa has settled on Robin as the new moniker.
“I based the original name off of a Japanese proverb about a bird, and when I got the cease and desist, I had already fallen in love with the logo. So when thinking of names that still fit into that idea, it occurred to me that my mom’s middle name Robin was perfect,” Tortosa told Eater SF.
Robin was originally supposed to open in December, but as it goes in this city, the restaurant has been delayed to mid-May. “It took eight months to get the permits. The space needed a change of use and a tenant improvement permit, so it went through 14 different departments for approvals. If there are any mistakes, it has to get rerouted, and it’s a very slow process to begin with,” Tortosa said. “It took so much longer than I was told to anticipate. We started working on the permit process in April, I got the keys to the space in June, and we didn’t get the permit to start construction until the very end of December — when I thought we were going to be open.”
Now, construction is underway, and should take four months, putting May as the timeline for Robin’s arrival. In the meantime, Tortosa has been focusing mainly on the design of the space, but will soon move into hiring and menu planning.
Omakase restaurants may be proliferating in San Francisco — the past year has seen Ijji, Hashiri, Ju-ni, Sasaki, Kinjo, Hinata, and more — but Tortosa hopes to differentiate through a focus on all-local-everything, going beyond just produce. Rather than trying to recreate Japan in SF, Tortosa is sourcing from California artisans for the furniture, ceramics, design elements, and more. To match the California goods, the atmosphere will be more relaxed and upbeat than a traditional sushi restaurant.
Stay tuned for more as Robin nears opening.