SFist had a respectable scoop Monday: According to a job posting on LinkedIn, famed restaurateur Michael Mina is looking to hire a general manager for a new private club inside San Francisco’s Ferry Building, to be called Shack 15. But no one’s talking, and every stakeholder that Eater contacted since early Monday has declined to confirm any details of the project, including if it’s even happening at all.
This is unusual, especially since SFist’s reporting was repeated on the pages of the San Francisco Business Times (headline: “San Francisco restaurant magnate wants to open members-only club in this landmark building”) and on ABC 7 (“Michael Mina to open new members only restaurant in San Francisco’s Ferry Building”). That’s typically when a company moves to control the narrative. But, so far, crickets.
Here’s what we know for sure: There’s a Norwegian startup called Meltwater that relocated to San Francisco back in 2005. The company, which makes media monitoring software (basically, a tool used by marketers to track things like trending conversations and mentions of brands), launched a co-working space in London in 2016. It’s called Shack 15.
When contacted for comment, the London Shack 15 did not respond.
Then there’s shack15.com, a Squarespace-based website that opens with a drone shot of the Ferry Building. “We welcome entrepreneurs, innovators, and creators driven by extraordinary ideas,” it says on its “apply” page. It shares the same logo as the London Shack 15, a logo that Meltwater apparently submitted for trademark back in 2016. The “goods and services” to be provided by Shack 15 include “providing co-working facilities,” “leasing of office space,” and arranging “workshops in the fields of business, technology and social networking,” Meltwater says in its filing. There’s no mention of restaurants or private clubs.
According to shack15.com, its Ferry Building location is an “Inspired gathering place” for “passionate founders, innovators, and changemakers from around the world.” It also says that the spot spans 46,000 square feet of “iconic creative space,” in which exists “dedicated workspace, an array of lounges, an in-house restaurant, a coffee bar, a wellness center, and a pioneering event space.” But, also: “SHACK15 is purpose-built to be the dynamic gateway to San Francisco’s entrepreneurial landscape.”
46,000 square feet is a lot of space. Here’s how much it is: An acre is 43,560 square feet. A football field (minus the end zones) is 48,000. Beverly Hills tourist attraction Greystone Mansion clocks in at 46,000, as does, its website claims, Shack 15.
It’s not out of the question that Shack 15 could occupy 46,000 square feet of the Ferry Building. According to a San Francisco Business Times report from June of 2017, when the structure was placed on the market, the building had 175,000 square feet of office space, and 74,506 of it was (at the time) vacant. It also asks “among the highest” commercial rents in the country, the Business Times says, at $95 to $100 per square foot. A July 2019 report from the SF Chronicle says that the average commercial rent in SF has risen to $84.16, so it’s unlikely that the Ferry Building’s rates have dropped. At the low end, a 46K square-foot Ferry Building spot could suggest a monthly rent of $4.37 million per month.
That’s grabby enough a figure to justify a call to Hudson Pacific Properties, which last October bought the Ferry Building for $291 million (that’s $1,086 per square foot), the Business Times reports. However, after three calls and two emails, the only response provided by Hudson Pacific Properties was, “You should reach out directly to Michael Mina.”
When someone says “Michael Mina” they typically mean Mina Group, a company that encompasses over 40 restaurants in the country’s hottest markets (and Dubai). In addition to this mystery project (assuming it exists), Mina’s upcoming NorCal ventures include a Cow Hollow grab-and-go spot called Indie Superette, a Sonoma location of his Wit & Wisdom Tavern, and an as-yet-unnamed Tiburon restaurant.
Even in the current era of the “celebrity chef,” Mina’s imprint is a very big deal. Any members-only “inspired gathering place” would consider having a Michael Mina spot as its “in-house restaurant” a coup.
So, is that what’s happening? That, too, remains unclear. A call to Mina, himself, wasn’t returned, and a company spokesperson said that the LinkedIn posting was real, but ”has been removed as we are currently updating details.” “At this point,” the spokesperson said, “we don’t have any further details to share.” Instead, they said, questions should be posed to Shack 15.
Even before the Mina spokesperson had responded, though, Eater SF emailed two different people in marketing and PR positions with Shack 15 for comment. A third person was emailed this morning. As of this writing, no response.
Here’s a picture of the space, today:
The “apply” page for Shack 15 listed an address of One Ferry Building, Suite 201. That’s the upstairs office space of the building, all the way down at its northernmost end. At a little before noon on a Wednesday, workers were going in and out of the building, and a man was cleaning the glass. The door was locked. There was a lot of sweeping stone and a statement light fixture. It looked pretty big, but not Greystone Mansion big. That was just from the outside, though.
Assuming Shack 15’s LinkedIn business page is valid, the Ferry Building facility is “a new kind of social space dedicated to entrepreneurship, community, and big ideas” that is launching/has launched in 2019. If and when it launches, it will “empower a uniquely supportive community to lend a hand wherever possible in the pursuit of extraordinary ideas,” the LinkedIn page says.
It would be great to figure out what that means — and, of course, if that community includes a Michael Mina-owned restaurant. But as of this writing, it appears no one is willing to explain.