Al Petri, whose family ran Alfred’s Steakhouse until he sold to Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group in 2015, wants to see the now 90-year-old institution reach 100. That’s why he’s returned, at least partially, from retirement in rural Washington to reopen Alfred’s. It’s back tomorrow, December 5, with a new fixed price menu format at 659 Merchant Street.
When Patterson assumed ownership of Alfred’s in 2015, he retained its classic feel, but updated aspects of its menu, sourcing more grass-fed beef, for example. According to Petri — and mixed reviews from critics — those changes weren’t working. Damage from a fire added to the restaurant’s woes.
Then, this June, the deep red Alfred’s dining room went all the way dark in a mysterious closure billed as temporary. In the meantime, Petri contacted Patterson and bought back a majority stake in Alfred’s. Patterson’s group is still an investor and co-owner in the enterprise.
Now, Petri’s hired a new staff, though at least one longtime bartender and cook are back at their posts. But the biggest change is the format. “We’re trying to bring the price of a great steak dinner down to reasonableness,” says Petri.
The only option is a fixed price order based on the cut of steak (or a choice of salmon). That’s served with an appetizer platter for the table, a first course (caesar salad, chilled prawns, or heart of romaine salad), and an entree with two sides (fries, smashed red potatoes, creamed spinach, or grilled broccoli) and sauce (whiskey mushroom, Béarnaise, horseradish, or brandy pepper). A 12-oz grass-fed minute steak is $45, an 18-ounce, 28-day-aged New York cut is $53, a 28-ounce Porterhouse is $58, and so on. A vegetarian options is “available upon request,” per the menu.
Al Petri, it bears noting, isn’t Alfred — he’s actually Albert, but won’t correct patrons on that point. The eponymous Alfred was Alfredo Bacchini, an Italian immigrant who opened the restaurant in 1928 (at a different location — it’s moved several times). Petri’s father, Art, bought the business in 1973. In 2010, after decades at the restaurant, Al Petri retired for the first time, with his son Marco taking over operations. Then, when the duo sold their business to Patterson five years later, Petri, who is now 75, moved to Sequim, Washington.
“It’s paradise, it’s absolutely great, gorgeous and beautiful.”
This year, when it became clear that Alfred’s was struggling under its new ownership, Petri made a plan with Patterson to return. His daughter, Chrissy, will also work at Alfred’s. Once the restaurant is up and running, Petri will return for monthly check-ins.
Could it be that the restaurant owner secretly misses the action in San Francisco? Answering for him, his wife insists not. But Petri is clearly a little conflicted.
“It’s been in my blood for a long time,” he says. “Pulling weeds and cutting your lawn have their limitations as far as excitement is concerned.”