About six months after sharing plans to shut down their restaurant temporarily for the summer, the owners of Michelin Guide-listed restaurant Le Fantastique confirmed to Eater SF that they will not be reopening the business at its current address.
On Thursday, chef Robbie Wilson and wife and business partner Emily Wilson shared that they’ve bought out the remainder of their lease on the space at 22 Franklin Street, near Market and Van Ness, and will look for a new home for their French-inspired restaurant and wine bar. “We’re really happy in a lot of ways,” Robbie says. “The irony in all of this is that we achieved what we set out to do. We felt like we wanted to go out on our own terms.”
Indeed, the restaurant and its owners achieved a number of accolades since opening in October 2021. In November 2022, Esquire magazine named La Fantastique among the best restaurants to open in America that year, and in early 2023, Robbie Wilson earned a semifinalist nod for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef California award. The restaurant was also added to the Michelin Guide as a New Discovery in June 2022.
But, as Robbie shared earlier this year, the restaurant struggled to find its footing in a neighborhood that’s been heavily and negatively impacted since the pandemic. When the couple signed the lease on the space in 2018, they did so in part because of several planned hotel and residential projects that failed to come to fruition. The Mid-Market area to the east of the restaurant saw several high-profile closures this year including Whole Foods, which closed its flagship store due to alleged concerns over the safety of its workers.
Still, the couple is adamant they’re going to revive the business elsewhere in San Francisco. They envisioned the restaurant not as a fine dining destination, but as a place to pop by for a glass of Champagne and a plate of raw fish while enjoying a great album on vinyl; whenever they bring Le Fantastique back, they promise those core goals will remain the same. Of course, the Wilsons also continue to operate their Palo Alto restaurant Bird Dog and hope to plan some Le Fantastique pop-ups around the Bay Area in the new year. (Keep an eye on the Le Fantastique Instagram for details).
Emily says the couple spent the summer reflecting on whether or not it made sense to continue operating the restaurant at its current address, eventually realizing it wasn’t a good fit. “Overall we feel really positive about it,” Emily says. “That pause really allowed us to reflect and just think about what is it that we want for ourselves, for our business, and our family — and it's not to be enduring a struggle that we do not need to endure.”