The pandemic has had a major impact on four restaurants from chef-owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, the owners of State Bird Provisions and the Progress. Those restaurants, shining Michelin stars on Fillmore Street, are the latest restaurants to temporarily shutter due to a potential coronavirus exposure. In addition, their highly anticipated Anchovy Bar has been delayed, and an unnamed vegetarian spot they had planned for the Lower Haight has been canceled.
SF Gate was the first to report that State Bird Provisions and the Progress had announced via social media that a potential COVID-19 exposure prompted them to shut their doors last week. Speaking with Eater SF, Brioza said the restaurant was already questioning and taking temperatures of employees, so they caught the issue early, when an employee reported symptoms on his day off. Since then, the entire team has since been tested, and both restaurants will reopen for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining this weekend.
The two restaurants are the latest in a rotating cast of temporary closings and openings, as restaurants are scrambling to respond to exposures. They join Andytown, Square Pie Guys, Deli Board, and a host of others that have had brushes with the deadly virus, shared that news with customers and shut down operations until the health of their workers could be confirmed.
“It was an isolated incident, and we handled it with proactive precautionary measures,” Brioza tells Eater SF. “The entire team got tested, and we got the results within 36 hours. We did not want any uncertainty, so we all got tested, all at the same time.”
Brioza says that the pandemic has also delayed the opening of their highly anticipated Anchovy Bar, a wine bar and fish spot planned for a cosy nook around the corner from State Bird and the Progress, in the old Fat Angel space. The restaurant was supposed to open in April. But with pandemic-related delays, construction is still under way. Now, Brioza says, they’re looking at a fall opening. He also teased that the plan for the menu will shift from what it was, but declined to share details, so stay tuned for tinned fish updates.
The pandemic has also put the kibosh on Brioza and Krasinski’s new vegetarian spot slated for a former corner store in the Lower Haight. The spot, which never got a name, is officially not happening, Brioza confirms.
“We hadn’t begun construction, and even though the landlord worked well with us, looking into the crystal ball, who knew what that restaurant would even be without indoor dining,” Brioza says. “We decided to terminate the lease and step away until things are in a better place. We don’t need another project right now. It wasn’t making sense, given everything that’s happening.”
For now, Brioza and Krasinski plan to focus on State Bird and the Progress, both of which have a dedicated following: Opened in 2011 and 2014 to critical acclaim, diners (and hackers) stayed up until midnight to snag reservations. The restaurants have since settled in with Californian fare sourced from local farms and served in dazzling formats, from dim sum–style small plates at State Bird to fanned-out duck platters at the Progress. Each has garnered one Michelin star, glowing side by side in tall spaces.
It’s definitely the first time ever the team has attempted takeout, first riffing on the “provisions” of State Bird Provisions. On the savory side, Brioza offered up larder items like smoked trout dip, buttermilk-ramp potato chips, frozen guinea hen dumplings, and the house fermented pickles. From pastry, Krasinski is bottling and boxing up her nostalgic peanut milk and old-fashioned doughnut holes.
Both restaurants recently opened outdoor dining, building out eight “cabanas” with walls to break up the breeze on Fillmore Street. The combined menu serves favorite items from both restaurants, including the namesake fried quail, green garlic noodles, and quite possibly the most popular summer hot dog special in the city. All those dishes will be back in play Thursday, August 6, Brioza says, so start making your weekend dining plans now.