If there’s one building in San Francisco that best personifies the mutable culture of San Francisco, it’s 140 New Montgomery. Alexis Madrigal so eloquently declared this in his story for The Atlantic, which breaks down his thesis by stories—not literary, but physical floors—noting its historical significance as the Pac Bell Building, highlights like a visit from Winston Churchill, and its current incarnation as tech and foodie hub with the arrival of Yelp and Trou Normand (plus Aziza is on the way).
Appropriately, SPUR – a civic-minded thinktank—is holding their next Dine + Discover event there on Thursday, complete with drinks and bites by Trou Normand and Craftsman and Wolves, plus a live jazz trio playing songs from the building's original heyday.
We chatted with editorial director Allison Arieff on how they chose they famous building, and what to expect at the event next week.
Schuyler Bailey: Can you tell me about the history of the Dine + Discover series?
Allison Arieff: Dine + Discover: an Annual Benefit for SPUR, is now in it's 5th year. The event started in 2010 in the yet-to-open One Hawthorne building taking place on the roof deck and the three penthouses. Since then the event continues to bring together "Dine" (participating chefs from some of the city's best restaurants, like Foreign Cinema, Salthouse, and Serpentine) and "Discover"—we’re given special access to a place in the city that is either off-limits to the general public or off the beaten path. The event has taken us to Mission Bay, Dogpatch, and the "Castle on the Park": 601 Dolores Street, soon to be the home of Children's Day School.
SB: What is the goal and who are they aimed towards?
AA: Dine + Discover brings together SPUR's longtime dedicated supporters as well as those who believe in SPUR's mission of ideas and action for a better city.
SB: How have the events engaged the community in the past?
AA: Dine + Discover has engaged the community by selecting a neighborhood theme and building upon it each year. The venue becomes the basis, and outreach to potential chefs then begins. The City Supervisor for the particular district is always invited to be on the host committee. SPUR's major donor community comes together to support the great work that we do, and to celebrate our city.
SB: How did you choose 140 New Montgomery as the venue this year?
AA: 140 New Montgomery is one of the most exciting projects in San Francisco in recent years. From coverage in the Atlantic and the Chronicle to KQED, the building is a stellar example of how we can preserve our city's historic gems while also using technology to attract cutting edge companies, restaurants and retail.
SB: What are some of the interesting notes about the renovation?
AA: Alexis Madrigal said it best in his article in The Atlantic, "The lobby has been beautifully reworked. Photographs of artificial lighting hang on the old black marble walls. The reddish ceiling is a glorious mélange of eastern iconography: unicorns, phoenixes, clouds, and other miscellaneous exotica. Three-fingered hands, perhaps mudra inspired, metaphorically hold up the building. At the same time, this is a modern building designed for millennial appreciation: A smart elevator system, a xeriscaped courtyard, lots of bike storage, and excellent access to public transport. 2.3 million pounds of rebar and 10,000 tons of concrete have made the building more resilient."
SB: Where in the building will the event take place?
AA: The event will take place on the third floor, one of the few that has yet to be redone, which is slated for Yelp to grow into in the coming year (Lumosity already has offices in the building). The space is raw and perfect for our audience of urbanists who like to see the bones of a building.
SB: What about the food?
AA: This event is a paradise for aficionados of food and design. Bar Agricole's Eric Johnson is at the helm of the events bar program; passed bites and main courses are being served up from Trou Normand and Radius. The night will finish with desserts from the Mission's coolest patisserie, Craftsman & Wolves. Our guest always appreciate that the event feels more like an elegant house party with open seating and eating vignettes vs. a stuffy sit down.
Dine + Discover
Thursday, May 1, 6-10pm
140 New Montgomery
Tickets start at $250 and are available here.