For fans of the Clement Street Farmers Market, the red-walled corner of 2nd Avenue and Clement Street is as familiar a sight as the sprawling lines outside nearby croissant destination Arsicault. Eats, the 48-year-old brunch restaurant, was always packed — that is, until it closed in January 2023, leaving a hole in the morning options for locals and market-goers alike.
Oakland-born-and-raised Simon Bryant couldn’t let that stand.
He wanted to reopen the restaurant quietly, respecting the unpretentious clientele and ambiance, so he steered clear of the press when he swung open the remodeled doors on July 26. Now, he’s ready to roll out the red carpet to Richmond District diners and visitors serving thick pieces of caramelized custard French toast, fried chicken sandwiches, tostada chilaquiles mash-ups — aptly named tosta-quiles — with coffee and mimosas flowing. “This is the kind of place to go after dropping your kids off of school,” Bryant says. “We want to remain a pillar. It’s a simple restaurant for the community.”
Bryant, who comes from running food at Press Club from Taste Catering and the Emblem Hotel, worked in farming before taking over Eats. He wants to merge Eats’s old-school breakfast and lunch model with the California cuisine and farm-to-table vibes for which the Bay Area is known. Acme Bread sourdough provides the base for that French toast, crispy on the outside with Frog Hollow peaches and custard on the inside. The tosta-quiles come from Bryant’s experience growing up in the Bay; an upscale dish but also representative of the Mexican culture prevalent throughout the state and region and within his restaurant kitchens. Equator Coffee and Silk Road Tea hold down the buzzy beverages, along with mimosas and wine. Prices are low, meant to remain accessible for locals — a similar approach to neighboring Pasta Supply Co.
The chef and owner took the reins from Burma Superstar’s Joycelyn Lee, who had owned Eats for 13 years. The day Bryant called his restaurant broker, having been on the prowl for a while, was the same day Lee listed Eats. There aren’t any partners behind the business, meaning the white-walled renovation came from Bryant’s own financing. Bryant intentionally hired a team from fine dining and fry cook roles alike, bringing together a ragtag crew. One of the cooks, for example, spent decades at Brenda’s French Soul Food, and another server cut their teeth at Zuni Cafe. “They’re the ones who really make it all happen,” Bryant says. “We want to continue headed in the food industry’s direction of better food for society.”
Eats (50 Clement Street) is open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Monday.