A new beer hall is opening today, June 23, as one of the biggest projects to date from Dennis, David, and Daniel Lee, the brothers behind now-closed Namu Gaji, still popular Namu Stonepot and Sunset Squares Pizza. It’s a very different vision than what the Lees had originally planned for the former Perennial space when they took it over in 2019 with the intent to create a new home for Namu Gaji. After leaning heavily into the realm of fast-casual during the pandemic, however, the brothers decided to move their pizza operation, Sunset Squares into the empty space, and are now fully opening it as a beer hall with several food concepts, and an NFT gallery (more on that later).
Dennis Lee says that though they never had grand ambitions to open a beer hall, this was a way to evolve and survive during the pandemic, particularly for a chef who has always been nimble with delivery and social media savvy. And now, moving into reopening, he’s giving diners the option to gather in a cool space, while still supporting takeout and serving comfort. “I see a throwback or regression to more comfort food items,” Lee says. “I think that everyone is a little bit traumatized, and also looking for less challenging kinds of experiences.”
Essentially, they’re keeping it mellow but extremely creative, a signature of the Lees’ projects over the years. The food hall will be featuring three to four different menus at a time, including the Lees’ own fast-casual restaurants, Sunset Squares and Namu Stonepot. Uncle Tito’s will also offer its Filipino-American comforts as a permanent partner, and another will serve as a rotating guest spot, with a lineup TBD.
Sunset Squares will serve its signature sourdough pizza — but don’t call it Detroit, it’s all San Francisco — with unexpected toppings like mapo tofu, bulgogi beef, and deconstructed clam chowder. Namu Stonepot is sliding in with Cali-Korean sizzling rice and veggies, undulating okonomiyaki with bonito flakes, and street dogs topped with sisig or kimchee. And Uncle Tito, the pandemic-pop-up-turned-permanent, is serving its popular boan boxes, silog specials, wontons, and ube buns that bleed purple for dessert.
As the title promises, there’s going to be strong beer, featuring local craft brews with plenty of hops and dank weed flavor. Sean O’Leary, who’s coming from Seven Stills, is curating the beer list, which will be featuring Cellarmaker, Harmonic, Far West Cider, and more. They’ll have about 10 beers on tap, and a cold case full of cans. And while SSP Beer Hall won’t be dealing in cannabis, they are collaborating with a few surrounding dispensaries and creating special pizzas for the nearby Moe Greens and Vapor Room.
Fans of the Perennial may recall that it was an impressive 5,000 square feet, broken up into several different spaces, with a lounge, bar, and dining room. SSP Beer Hall has definitely rearranged: the original bar space is being used for seating, with space for about 50 at a communal table, seats at the bar, and seats at a new window counter. In this new era of QR codes, customers can walk in, snag a seat, and order directly from their devices.
With so many different menus running, the kitchen did take over the former dining room to expand operations. And the Lees hope to turn the former cafe into an art gallery, which hasn’t been unveiled yet. They are keeping the warm and Zen redwood panels, which are grooved together with Japanese joinery. But they have added in tech, with seven screens around the space, all intended for displaying digital art.
The Lee brothers wildly claim that SSP Beer Hall is “the first physical NFT gallery in San Francisco,” and the first combined “beer hall and NFT gallery in the world.” NFT stands for non-fungible token, and it’s a way for artists to authenticate digital art, using the same technologies as cryptocurrency, as our friends at the Verge explain so much better than we ever could. SSP Beer Hall plans to feature monthly exhibitions, showcasing artists like Robness, Fewocious, Hackatao, Xcopy, and Beeple, and “foster a community around all things crypto.” So yes, this is literally a crypto bro party. But hey, the menus look dope.
SSP Beer Hall opens Wednesday, June 23, for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. Hours are Wednesday to Friday, 4:30 to 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.