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For His Next Move, an Acclaimed SF Chef Takes Retirement Home Dining to a Luxury Level

Chef David Lawrence of Fillmore 1300 and Black Bark BBQ is back in the kitchen, but not where you’d expect

When Coterie opens in San Francisco’s Cathedral Hill next year, it will arguably offer one of the most well-considered fine dining establishments to hit the neighborhood in recent years. But its farm-to-table menu, Champagne brunches, chef pop-ups, and star-backed bar program will only be accessible to a select few — Coterie’s senior residents.

San Francisco is the first location for Coterie, a new luxury senior living facility born from a partnership between real estate firm Related and senior housing development company Atria, based in Kentucky. Coterie Cathedral Hill, at 1001 Van Ness Avenue, is a 208-unit complex set to open in March 2022; the second development is, fittingly, set for Manhattan’s Hudson Yards development. So how does a senior living facility, albeit one that charges between $8,000 and $25,000 per month and offers amenities like chauffeurs, onsite hair salons, and Mayo Clinic–curated fitness centers, go about creating an industry-changing fine dining program?

They poach a well-known local chef. “These are the people that I’ve been cooking for for the last 20 years in San Francisco,” says chef David Lawrence, who’s joined Coterie to serve as executive chef. “This is my clientele. They are growing gracefully, and still want to eat great food, and I want to help with that,” he says. Lawrence is an acclaimed chef who started his Bay Area career at 231 Ellsworth Restaurant in San Mateo before opening his own restaurants 1300 Fillmore and Black Bark BBQ in the Fillmore, closed in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Before coming to the U.S. in the late 1980s, Lawrence made a name for himself in his native London, working alongside the Roux Brothers at their various UK restaurants, including Michelin-starred Le Gavroche and the Waterside Inn.

That experience was key to Chad Welch, culinary director for the larger Atria group, who happens to have been born and raised in the East Bay, and is a longtime friend of Lawrence’s. Welch has been working on Coterie for the past three years, he says, and knew he wanted Lawrence on board to help shape the dining. “He’s been one of my mentors forever, and whether he signed on or not, he would be participating,” Welch says. “You know how chefs are. We have that kind of friendship where we look out for each other, call each other for advice. I thought of him immediately.”

Welch says Coterie is styled after a new American bistro, “thoughtful cuisine based around local inspirations,” that utilizes the best seasonal ingredients from around the world — not just the Bay. “You’ll be able to see pieces of David’s influence — that high-end, Michelin background — throughout our various dining experiences while also understanding that this is where our residents live,” Welch says. “So in addition to being able to have caviar service at the bar one night, you can also get a grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch.”

Dinner at Coterie, which is open only to residents and guests, will include a few options “unlike any other residential dining program,” Lawrence says. There will be a rotating prix fixe menu nightly, in addition to separate, more cafeteria-like options, such as dishes from a wok station, though everything is table service. “You can be sitting across from someone eating a burger while you eat a dry-aged ribeye and someone else at the table eats a noodle dish from the wok station,” Welch says. A smaller restaurant on the same floor will focus on San Francisco favorites for breakfast and lunch, serving iconic local dishes like cioppino, clam chowder, and crab Louie, and of course, there will be a full menu available for room service. Of all the dishes he’s worked on for the restaurant, chef Lawrence says he’s most excited about the seafood bouillabaisse. “I really can’t wait to get that out there” he says.

Coterie has partnered with master sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji of Miura Vineyards in Napa to curate the wine list, which will feature some of his own wines, as well as collaborate with Lawrence on winemaker dinners. For the winemaker dinners, “David will have free rein to do whatever he wants and pair it with Emmanuel’s collections,” Welch says. The dinners will be event-based, put on by the restaurant for a special occasion or holiday, but can also be requested and hosted by a resident.

“We’re going to be serving San Francisco natives who’ve been dining at the best restaurants their entire lives,” Lawrence says. “We want residents and visitors to come in an enjoy a meal that would be equivalent to any other fine dining experience in San Francisco — it’s really that simple.”

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