There’s more than a few things going on in the six-story, four-part project ONE65, named for its Union Square address 165 O’Farrell. The ambitious new dining destination, formally announced last month, is a canvas — or whole gallery, really — for executive chef/partner Claude Le Tohic, who won a James Beard Award for Best Chef Southwest in 2010 for his work at Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas. Previously, he was chef de cuisine at Robuchon’s three-Michelin star Paris restaurant Jamin.
The basics: ONE65 is a division of the Alexander’s Steakhouse group, which has been moving in on the long-vacant multistory space for at least a year. It’s heavily under construction inside, with D-Scheme Studio’s architect and president, Marc Dimalanta, planning its transformation into four businesses.
The first of those, ONE65 Patisserie, will be ground-level and serve petit gâteaux, pastry, quiche, coffee, and more. It’s expected to be ready in the fall. The second floor is mostly for production, and the third floor will be a casual restaurant, ONE65 Bistro, serving “California/French comfort food.” That and the fourth floor, a cocktail and wine bar called ONE65 Lounge, will open together next. And the crown on top: Fifth and sixth floor fine dining restaurant O’. Art from Christian Andrade throughout will tie the concepts together.
Beyond that outine, here are some specific points of interest as the project gets underway:
The whole building is historic
While it’s going to be modern inside, 165 O’Farrell is, from the outside, anything but. It was built in 1908 as the Orpheum Annex Hotel (beside the Orpheum Theater — which is now a parking structure).
It will take about 150 employees to run
They’ve got a lot of hiring to do at ONE65 — a task that chef Le Tohic acknowledges is one of the most difficult aspects of opening. All told, he estimates it will take 150 people to operate all four businesses.
A central set of dumbwaiters will also be crucial
A group of very hard working, state-of-the-art dumbwaiters will keep drinks and dishes flowing between all the floors (servers’ legs thank them). On the fourth floor lounge, the dumbwaiter even opens right into the wine cellar so the team can use it to ferry bottles and glasses up and down.
There’s a dedicated chocolate room
When guests get off the elevator on the second floor, the first thing they’ll see is chocolate. This second floor is mostly dedicated to production, plus some private dining space, and a glass-walled room will showcase the restaurant’s chocolatiers as they make over 24 types of bon bons. “Chocolate is something people like to see,” as Le Tohic says.
There’s also a dedicated ice cream room
The sixth floor is mostly kitchen space serving O’, plus three private dining rooms (including a chef’s table from which you can see the kitchen) and a room just for ice cream production. “Ice cream is always part of a dessert. With two restaurants, it makes sense to do the production of ice cream [in house].”
The bistro will run on induction
Rather than cooking with gas, Le Tohic has designed the bistro’s kitchen entirely around induction cooking. “It’s very comfortable when you work,” meaning it doesn’t get too hot, “and it’s very precise,” he says.
And a special Josper charcoal oven
One piece of equipment that gives Le Tohic a thrill: A shiny new Spanish-made Josper charcoal oven and grill. Known for perfectly circulating heat at scorching temperatures, it combines the elements of an oven and grill.
Expect lots of food carts rolling around O’
Diners at O’ can expect rolling carts of everything from cheese to Chartreuse. “I think it’s a very nice touch when people bring a cart to the table with a big selection of mignardises, petit four, herbs, tea — in France, it is tradition.”
Le Tohic wants to be in the kitchen the whole time
Rather than lending his name to the project, Le Tohic makes clear that he’ll be hands-on throughout. “This is my new home,” he says of the space.