Sean Ang lives in the Bayview, worked in tech, and is one-third of the powerhouse team behind San Francisco supper club Deluxe Queer. He and his co-founders Regen Williams and Jonathan “J” Pan have all worked in the industry, and Ang knew he wanted to return as soon as he left to try out tech for a few years. Since launching Deluxe Queer last fall, the trio has hosted intimate monthly multi-course dinners at Ang’s apartment. Through these events, they hope to create a seat at the proverbial table for queer people. “Most of the queer gathering spaces are nightlife, bars, and alcohol-focused,” Ang says. “We’re trying to bridge the gap for queer people of all creeds to come together.”
When it comes to the menu, Ang says the three founders describe their approach as third culture cuisine, a term used to describe people raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture of origin. Think roasted kabocha squash and green beans, spiced pear with coconut ice cream, and duck a l’orange with birds from Olivier’s Butchery. He goes further to say queer culture itself is a kind of third culture, meaning that navigating a heteronormative world as a queer person is its own displacement. “We grow up and have to evolve and survive in a culture that is not our home,” Ang says. Viridian in Oakland serves as inspiration for Deluxe Queer, as does the post-pandemic bloom of smaller projects going into permanent spaces such as Noodle in a Haystack and Hi Felicia. “It’s this new wave of dealing with culture and approachability,” Ang says.
The trio is not new to the service industry, despite the at-home aesthetic of their pop-up. Williams worked at Tartine, Gardenia, and Epicurean Trader throughout the pandemic. Pan bartended at hotels on the Peninsula, and Ang comes from service in Sacramento. The inciting incident for Deluxe Queer was Pride 2022, when Ang’s partner Anthony Rogers asked him to put together a brunch for Rogers’ style company And Our. The first dinner was in October 2022 with a monthly schedule since. Each event hosts 14 guests, though the team’s Queersgiving saw 28 guests, which was “a little cozy,” Ang says. Dinner costs $45 a head, but in the spirit of accessibility, Deluxe Queer offers a sliding scale; so far, more moneyed guests have overpaid to compensate for diners on a budget. “It all balances out,” Ang says.
The team is looking to the horizon in 2023, planning private events, fine-tuning menus, and looking forward to lots and lots of hosting. They’d like to be doing this project full-time, and Ang sees its future as a permanent location that doubles as an event space for the queer community in the Bay. “Our last dinner was mostly people who found us on social media and strangers,” Ang gushes. “Lots of queer community elders. It was exciting to me to bring generations together.”