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Celeb Chef Behind Hayes Valley’s Baia Says Sarma Melngailis of ‘Bad Vegan’ Deserves Another Shot

Plus, San Francisco’s tourism bureau is launching a 420 festival and more food news

A view of the mezzanine and chandelier at Baia. Baia
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Celebrity chef Matthew Kenney, who opened splashy plant-based Italian restaurant Baia in Hayes Valley in August 2020, thinks “Bad Vegan” docuseries subject Sarma Melngailis should take another shot at opening a restaurant, according to TMZ. The online tabloid reports a spokesperson for Kenney, who dated Melngailis in the early aughts, says the chef “believes in second chances and wishes Sarma the best,” adding that if Melngailis wants to open another restaurant, he thinks she should “pursue it.”

For those who haven’t already binged the four-part Netflix series, here are the highlights: the show chronicles the implosion of New York City raw vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine, which Melngailis owned alongside Anthony Strangis. In the show Melngailis alleges Strangis exerted “coercive control” over her, influencing her to participate in a long list of criminal acts ranging from grand larceny and tax fraud to labor law violations.

Kenney has lent his name to scores of restaurants from San Diego to Sydney and formerly was an owner at Pure Food and Wine — though he split from the venture when he and Melngailis ended their relationship. Baia is the chef’s only San Francisco restaurant; it took over the city’s most memorable dining location, the longtime home of Traci Des Jardins’ Jardinière.

San Francisco tourism bureau launches 9-day cannabis festival

A cohort of local trade organizations including SF Travel have banded together to launch “Evergreen San Francisco,” a nine-day cannabis festival aimed at bringing more tourism dollars to the city, per SF Business Times. Of course, it’ll span 420 (that’s April 20) and will include a scavenger hunt, tours, and more.

Controversial Silicon Valley development hunts for restaurant tenants

The Rise, a massive mixed-use development (including 429,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space) planned for Cupertino, is moving forward to recruit residents and tenants, the Mercury News reports. The step forward comes after developer Sand Hill Property fought years of pushback from the community including concerns over traffic.

Take a look inside San Jose’s new Mexican restaurant Acopio

The Mercury News has a first look inside Acopio, a new Mexican restaurant in San Jose from the family behind longstanding taco shop Taqueria Lorena. It’s an upscale restaurant and the owner says they were drawn to the East Side location in part by the presence of Adega, a Michelin-starred Portuguese restaurant not far away.

How North Beach’s Northstar became a home for Duke basketball fans

Just in time for fans to watch as Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski makes his final run in the NCAA Tournament, SFGATE tells the story of how North Beach’s more than 100-year-old bar the Northstar Cafe became a destination for the Blue Devils.