A few years ago, the number of restaurant closings continued to eclipse the amount of openings. Tableclothed, high ticket items like Jack Falstaff, Two and Zinnia bowed out, one after another. Those who deigned to enter the scene did so with newfangled ideas for a less-than-optimistic climate: Things like "comfort food," "pop-ups," and burger menus. Now, the tides appear to be shifting again as big budget, bravado-filled restaurants have started throwing their weight around. Here are four multi-million dollar restaurants on the horizon, proving the economy might just be on the mend.
Saison, 178 Townsend Street, SoMA
After entering the scene as a pop-up in 2009, Saison has outgrown its location in the Mission, and with a slew of investors in tow, they'll open a 2.2 million dollar, 18-seat restaurant in the California Electric Light Company Building in SoMA. Chef-owner Josh Skenes calls his new 100% customized, state-of-the-art workspace, "the Ferrari of kitchens"—a place where he'll shoot for three Michelin stars in the coming year. Hand-blown glassware, Zalto stemwarte, cashmere throws, a 5,000 wine cellar, and other top of the line dining room accoutrements aim to fill out a dining experience that gets diners firing on all senses.
M.Y. China, 845 Market Street, Union Square
TV personality Martin Yan has joined up with the owners of Koi Palace, Willy and Ronny Ng, to create a "multi-million dollar" ode to 16 regional styles of Chinese cuisine. Bauldof, Catton Von Eckartsberg will mimic the grandeur of its placement under the dome at the Westfield with a white stone facade, steel accents, glass walls and wood block counters. Six live fire woks will fire away in the kitchen while a Disney-esque mosaic of small TV screens roll former Martin Yan cooking shows. Of course, there are artifacts everywhere, like a 1800-pound Chinese monastery bell hanging over the bar, 18 cloisonne monk statues and antique snuff bottles bartered from an antique dealer in China.
ETA: "Early December."
Hakkasan, 1 Kearny, Financial District
A 10,000-square-foot, 7 million dollar restaurant from a high-end chain originating in London, Hakkasan has brought on local man Richard Toshio Miyashiro, of St. Helena's dearly departed Martini House, to steer the San Francisco Hakkasan in the right direction. The outpost will mimic the same elaborate Gilles & Bossier design as the other restaurants in New York, Miami, Vegas, Dubai and London with Chinese "cage" screens, Calcutta marble, colored mirrors, imported Shanghai silks, and personal sinks in each bathroom. Fresh off one Michelin star in London and in New York, chef Ho Chee Boon is going for two Michelin stars here.
ETA: December 3
Aziza, 140 New Montgomery, SoMA
After establishing an accolade-filled reputation for himself with a gorgeous paean to Moroccan and Californian cuisines in the Outer Richmond, Mourad Lahlou is ready to expand with a new presence closer to the city's core in the art deco Pacific Telephone Building in SoMa. Although the project is still about a year out and the name is TBA, Lahlou does know it is going to cost at least 4.5 million to get this puppy up and running. Architect Olle Lundberg and Lahlou have a trip to Morocco planned for December to soak up the vibe and shades of the culture for design inspiration.
ETA: September 2013