It’s been about a year and a half since Le Fantastique brought the Champagne-soaked raw fish party to a midcentury-inspired space near Market and 12th streets. And as most people paying attention already know, it’s been a tumultuous time for the mid-Market neighborhood. But with the season of June gloom and “No Sky July” upon us, chef and owner Robbie Wilson has a new plan: hit the road.
As of June 30, Le Fantastique will shut down for the summer and take the restaurant’s raw fish-focused menu, wine program, and staff on tour. “This is just a great opportunity for us to clear our minds and reset,” Wilson says. “I want to have a new perspective on things, and you can’t do that with your head down and you’re just surviving.”
The restaurant will reopen in September, following pop-ups in cities including Los Angeles, Healdsburg, and New York City. The final calendar is still in the works, Wilson suggests fans keep an eye on the Le Fantastique Instagram for updates as event details get finalized. On the road, they’ll be serving the thoughtfully prepared crudo and French wines for which the restaurant earned both a nod from the James Beard Foundation and an entry in the Michelin Guide.
There are a few factors behind the decision. On one hand, Wilson says he’s been in talks with folks from New York to Los Angeles about doing collaborations for a while now; but with Le Fantastique’s limited space and small team, it isn’t really feasible to travel to other cities while the restaurant remains open or to host out-of-town chefs here in San Francisco. The temporary closure means he and the team can finally make these pop-ups happen.
On the other hand, Wilson also says it’s a difficult time to be running a restaurant in this city — especially one downtown. As has been widely reported, downtown San Francisco’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic has been remarkably slow compared to other major cities, and with the future of the city’s largest mall uncertain, it’s not clear if and when things will start moving in the right direction. “I’m not a doomsdayer,” Wilson says, “it’s just a really, really bad time.”
Wilson knows he can’t expect to come back to a different city by the fall, but he’s optimistic that getting out of the day-to-day and, physically, out of San Francisco can allow him and the team to come back with renewed energy. “We’re all excited about this,” he says. “It’s a thrive and not survive mentality.”
Le Fantastique will close for the summer after June 30. For updates check the restaurant's Instagram.