The latest hit to Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group empire arrives today as Reem Assil confirms the decision to split with Dyafa, the Jack London Square restaurant founded on her Palestinian home cooking. Assil will end the role she held as a consultant on the restaurant on August 9.
“I need to focus on projects where I have operating control and can prioritize my values,” Assil told Eater SF.
After garnering early attention for her Fruitvale restaurant (and a James Beard Award nomination), Assil signed on with Patterson to open Dyafa in Jack London Square, the waterfront space that once housed Haven. Following a swift remodel, the restaurant opened in April of 2018 with a menu expanding upon that of her original bakery and cafe. Assil has since been recognized as a James Beard Award semi-finalist for Best Chef: West in 2019, and most recently as a Rising Star Restaurateur by Starchefs.
Over the past few years the Patterson has forged other partnerships with chefs of color, making deals to place them in the available locations of his closed restaurants, and giving access to platforms that might not otherwise have been available. The chef has also been part of a racial equity pilot program with Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United.
“Obviously, there’s always been a glass ceiling for women and people of color. There hasn’t been the same opportunities opened for everyone equally; we’re leaving a lot of talent on table,” Patterson told Eater National in 2016. Alta Group has also worked with La Cocina, the non-profit food business incubator for women and people of color, to give opportunities to up-and-coming chefs like Heena Patel, who opened Besharam with Patterson in the Alta at the Minnesota Street Project space. Patel took full control of the restaurant that is an expression of her Gujarati background in April.
Similarly, Nigel Jones opened Kaya in 2018, as a partner with Alta Group in the former Market Street location of Alta; Kaya closed last week. The chef has also filed a lawsuit accusing Patterson of not fulfilling some of the financial obligations outlined in their partnership. According to the SF Chronicle, Patterson has denied those allegations.
Eater has reached out to Alta Group for comment.