It was only on September 26 that Outer Sunset favorite Outerlands closed in advance of new ownership taking over the 14-year-old business. But the closure didn’t last long. The restaurant reopened on Saturday, October 1, with Riley Bartlett as the new owner. Bartlett, who previously worked at Spruce and Piccino, was general manager under former owners Dave Muller and Lana Porcello; he says he’s excited to bring new life and a few big changes to the restaurant. “I’m excited to be leading this charge,” Bartlett says.
Muller, for his and Porcello’s part, says Bartlett, an Outer Sunset local, has been a part of the business since the beginning — though it’s still hard to say goodbye. “It’s hard to walk away from something you poured so much of yourself into, but passing it on to someone who loves the neighborhood, and this space, as much as we do has made that process immensely easier,” Muller says.
In terms of changes, Bartlett has already hired Tim Watson (formerly Tosca and Florio) and Sergio Cruz ( Zuni Cafe) to bring seasonal pasta to the restaurant menu. The team is still writing the new menu, but Bartlett wants Watson, who’s leading the kitchen, to lean into his Italian restaurant experience. Seasonality will be king: the tomato soup, a current menu favorite, is only going to be around as long as rain continues to hit the neighborhood, for example. Roasted vegetables and salads are on the docket, nothing too unfamiliar for the restaurant, but really things are in an experimental space. “I know a lot of people think of Outerlands as a brunch spot, but I always thought of it as a dinner spot,” Bartlett says. “I want it to be a menu you can eat multiple times a week.”
Suzanne “Sue” Murphy, who has been the baker on staff for years, is looking to try new things as well. Rosemary and olive breads are classics, but she plans to use the house dough for a few new items, too. The potato brioche bun used on the breakfast sandwich, which has been on the menu for the past year, may join for a new item, too.
Beyond food, Bartlett wants the huge driftwood-esque bar to be a major part of the restaurant going forward. Jeremy Lucca-Flaherty, who got started at Beretta but worked at Outerlands for years until the beginning of the pandemic, is back. Bartlett is a bar aficionado; he worked at School Night in Dogpatch, a Traci Des Jardins project, and cites Enrique Sanchez (ABV and Beretta) as inspiration. Beer and wine are on deck, too. “Sitting at that bar makes the experience of going to Outerlands so special,” Bartlett says. “I want it to be known as a great bar: once you find your way out to the ocean, you can have a great drink.”
The parklet, around since 2012, will also be expanded so more people can gather. Bartlett is adding to-go options for dinner for the first time, too, as he wants to accommodate the new outdoor dining scene born in the pandemic. He hopes all the changes will make the restaurant more accessible than before — nobody elbowing their way in to try and score a Sunday morning seat at the neighborhood destination. “This restaurant is a great example of community building,” Bartlett says. “So many people who come by know each other. I want to emphasize that.”