As chef Adam Rosenblum explains it, there wasn’t just one deciding factor that spurred the changes at Causwells, that neighborhood-loved Marina District restaurant with its famous cheeseburger. After eight years as a business, it seemed like both a time to reflect on the past while considering what the business wanted to become in its next eight years. “I personally have never been in a position like this where you’re eight years into a business and can say, ‘Well, wait a second, let’s take a look and see who we actually are now, and what have we become? How do we feel about who we are now, and the product that we’re producing?” Rosenblum says.
The next stage of Causwells will be slowing down and creating a more involved dining experience. While Rosenblum says he’s honored that Causwells is known for its cheseburger — “I’m beyond honored that I am known for anything in San Francisco, which is such a food mecca,” he says — the resulting popularity of the dish has created a rushed atmosphere that the Causwells team is looking to change up. “I feel like it’s worth slowing down, and it’s not a race to get your food as fast as you can, and get in and get out,” Rosenblum says. “We want people to connect with our food, our beverage, our staff.”
But the cheeseburgers are here to stay; the burger, along with its veggie version and the burger of the month, will still be around on the menu, as will the smoked salmon sliders. But there is also a bevy of new additions Rosenblum is excited about, including oysters with an angostura mignonette and charred lemon; a Detroit cast iron crispy cheesy bread that Rosenblum predicts will be “the new burger of Causwells”; an heirloom tomato salad that evolved from an older dish into a more playful version with cucumber, melon vinaigrette, and an “everything crunch” mix; and also a pork belly confit dish which includes a take on the Johnnycake, a sorghum gastrique, and in-season stone fruit.
Meanwhile, Elmer Mejicanos is taking the lead on widely expanding the cocktail menu, calling this new selection of drinks his “most personal menus that I have created in my career.” Mejicanos sought to figure out what an American bistro cocktail bar is; for him, that meant taking influences from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and more into his cocktails, and the menu is meant to be a choose-your-own-adventure approach, he says. “How do you feel today, do you want to do a tiki cocktail, you want to do a stirred cocktail, do you feel like a spritz?” he says. “That’s what I’m trying to build, it’s an idea of, ‘What is the American Bar?’”
Mejicanos has some showstopper cocktails up his sleeve, from clever takes on classic drinks to thoughtful large format drinks served tableside (more on that in a bit). The Open Sesame is Mejicanos’s move to create something different from a jalapeno margarita, while still using the heat and bite of some spice, along with tequila; meanwhile, the Ube-tter bee-lieve it uses a cinnamon and pineapple vinegar, clarified ube golden milk, lemon, bubbles, and a deeply hued ube foam to create an unexpected experience in a glass. The most noticeable addition to the bar program is the use of tableside service, where servers will come to the table to serve up drinks, like pouring frozen martinis for guests. These large format martinis — of which there will be three unique styles — will be built to serve four people and arrive on a tray with a carafe filled with the martini of choice, and garnishes for each person to pick from. “In this new era of Causewells, we want to focus on the style of service and experience,” Mejicanos says.
The Causwells team has made updates to the space here and there, swapping out the tables and chairs, and expect the changes to be pushed a little further: given the update to the bar program, the bar itself will also be extended, and the logo and a new awning will adorn the outside. Still, beyond the cosmetic, the team believes the feel of the restaurant will remain the same, a restaurant for the neighborhood. “The foundation of Causwells has always been great food and hospitality — that’s never going to change,” Mejicanos says.
Causwells (2346 Chestnut Street) reopens Tuesday, September 27 and will be open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to midnight Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Check the Causwells website for more details.