San Francisco’s most venerable vegetarian dining destination, Greens, will reopen its scenic Fort Mason dining room on Monday, October 15th. Reservations are available now for the first time since a June 20th fire and ensuing water damage led to an extended closure of the restaurant.
In the intervening months, “the support from the community... was so overwhelming. It re-inspired us,” says Greens’ general manager Min Kim. As the Greens team began to make fire-related repairs, it became clear they couldn’t reopen quickly. “It peeled back more layers: Electrical, plumbing upgrades — we upgraded our hood, which was built in the ‘70s,” a relic at which the repair team reportedly marveled.
Greens is indeed old — it opened in 1979, associated with San Francisco’s Zen Center, as an outlet for food grown at the Zen Center’s Green Gulch Farm in Marin. Originally, Greens employees were all Zen devotees.
To repair the damaged restaurant, Kim and team went back to its roots: “We reached out to everybody involved in the original buildout, including Paul Discoe [the Zen Buddhist priest and celebrated designer who helped build Greens in the first place].” To make sure longtime guests could return to the restaurant they remember, “we fought super hard to put things back as they were,” Kim says.
During the months of closure, Greens staff has catered private events, pitched in on repairs, and worked at the restaurant’s Green Gulch Farm. Now they’ll get back to cooking recipes by Annie Sommerville — Greens’ executive chef since 1985 and the author of several Greens cookbooks. As the restaurant approaches its 40th anniversary next year, it will be looking back, as well as to the future: Sommerville, who has entered a semi-retirement, will step away from the kitchen entirely.