Celebrity chef Tyler Florence has made the news lately with some big restaurant announcements, namely a takeover of Town Hall and the announcement that he will open dual cafes at Union Square. Now former San Francisco Chronicle food critic-turned-columnist Soleil Ho is calling into question the partnership between Florence and the city. About $2 million was earmarked for an improvement program for Powell Street, but Florence got an outsized amount, receiving $440,000 from the fund, which is meant to “kickstart the cafes’ first three months.”
What further colors this deal, is the fact that other business owners who were interested in the Union Square cafe spaces were told they would need a $50,000 security deposit, plus financial proof they could afford the startup costs and renovations associated with taking on the space. “[With] the benefit of more transparency and $440,000 in city funds, this opportunity in one of the few high-traffic areas of the city could have finally been accessible to lower-income, independent entrepreneurs,” Ho writes.
Chez TJ’s historical designation delays its restaurateur’s retirement plans
Mountain View’s Chez TJ’s has been a local favorite for years, but now owner George Aviet is trying to retire and sell the property after 41 years — but he’s running into trouble due to the building’s historical designation, the Mountain View Voice reports. The city council rejected a plan to sell the property to a developer for $7 million since the Wilheimer House where Chez TJ resides “is a part of the city’s founding history” and was built in 1894. However, Aviet says the interior has been extensively changed over the years, anyways. Despite offering to move the home to another location, Aviet says he most likely can only sell for $3 million, which “after paying all the bills, after paying the taxes and the mortgage that we have, not much is going to be left,” he told the Voice, saying he’s since experienced health issues from the stress.
Chili House temporarily closes
Chili House on Clement Street is temporarily closing after an apartment fire in its building caused damage to the business on Sunday, October 29. There was “significant water damage to the restaurant” and it is currently unclear when Chili House will reopen, a representative says.
Oakland’s Friends and Family launches a cocktail club
The team at Friends and Family is offering a new way to support their bar with the launch of the “Friends and Family Cocktail Club.” Available for pickup or delivery, the Oakland bar promises two bottled cocktails a month — which can be portioned into four drinks — plus a bottle of house-infused vermouth or sherry, plus a membership card that gives diners 10 percent off a meal at Friends and Family. For more details, head to Table22.com.