While the California Academy of Sciences is an unlikely destination for diners, anyone who’s visited the museum knows that it’s a spot that can consume a full day — making its restaurants an important landing spot for those suffering from blood sugar crashes or hunger-related crankiness. On Wednesday, the Cal Academy’s two restaurants relaunched with a new operator and a renewed focus on food from local makers and vendors.
Things haven’t always run smoothly for the Cal Academy’s restaurants, as they’ve changed hands several times over the years. According to Cal Academy spokesperson Kelly Mendez-O’Connor, the latest provider to take over its two restaurants — a quick-serve venue called the Academy Café and a fast-casual restaurant called the Terrace — is Constellation Culinary Group, a Philadelphia-based company that also manages restaurants in East Coast cities including Charlotte, New York, and Miami.
Constellation got the keys to the museum venues this week, closed down for two days, and reopened on Wednesday with new local offerings that include bread from Berkeley-based Acme Bread, produce from County Line Harvest, and cheese from Petaluma’s Double 8 Dairy.
Mendez-O’Connor says that the menus for both restaurants are still evolving, but the essential structure of the two spots will remain the same: the Academy Café will contain stations with offerings like soup, salad, or sandwiches (“that’s where the Acme comes in,” Mendez-O’Connor says), while the Terrace will offer a somewhat fancier fast-casual experience that includes beer and wine.
Both will also serve coffee from Andytown Coffee Roasters, which Mendez-O’Connor noted is based nearby in the Outer Sunset. According to Andytown co-owner Lauren Crabbe, in addition to serving drinks brewed with the company’s beans, baristas at the restaurants will be trained in Andytown’s ways. Crabbe says that she’s especially thrilled to have her company in the Cal Academy, as they “love the Academy’s focus on sustainability and, as their neighbors in the Outer Sunset, their commitment to the local community.”
Crabbe adds that as parents, she and husband/Andytown co-founder Michael McCrory are “excited that we don’t have to bring our own coffee to the Academy when we take our kids.”
Both restaurants are open during the Cal Academy’s operating hours, which are Monday–Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m.