On the up-and-made-it stretch of Divisadero between the Lower Haight and Lower Pac Heights, a new latin-themed restaurant and mezcaleria is looking to renovate a former horticulture store at the corner of Divisadero and Grove. The restaurant, tentatively named La Urbana, will feature around 130 seats, two bars and a private dining/mezcal tasting room.
At that size, La Urbana will be in the same destination restaurant league as Nopa, which has anchored the corridor (at least foodie-wise) since 2006 and still seats about twice as many as the next largest eatery in the neighborhood. Judging by the layouts submitted to the Planning Department, most of those seats will be bar stools or high-tops scattered around the 3,600 square feet of space that formerly served as a retail floor for large plants. Although the main dining room will be located along Divisadero, the entrance will be on the Grove Street side of the building.
Plant It Earth's colorful mural, which has been slowly getting tagged and painted over since the store closed last summer, will be replaced by colored stucco. The two garage doors along Grove Street will be replaced by glazed glass roll-ups where the back bar will be.
At the moment, nothing is set in stone: The floorplans and facade alterations submitted to the Planning Department still need to be approved by the city. Assuming none of the neighbors object to the build-out and all the necessary fire and health inspections go as planned, the restaurant will still have to navigate the city's notoriously slow liquor licensing process if they plan on serving up any of that mezcal. So, a 2013 opening date seems unlikely.
The business is registered to Latin Hospitality Group LLC, a newly created group that doesn't appear to have any other holdings at this time. We will, of course, update as we know more.
Update, February 22: A tipster connected to the artisan, organic Mezcal industry (we know) writes in to let us know La Urbana is possibly related to the same SF-based Resmex Restaurant group, that owns Colibri Mexican Bistro near Union Square as well as El Jardin Tequila Bar and a few other restaurants on Santana Row in San Jose. The group formerly owned a chain called Amaranta Cocina Mexicana with locations in Los Angeles and Danville, CA — both of which appear to be closed at this point and once had a fussy run-in with the food press.
No one picked up when SFist called a business number associated with Resmex Friday morning, but the company's co-founder Eduardo Rallo is also a partner at a venture capital fund for small businesses and may be involved as an investor. He formerly founded a 26-store chain of quick-service wrap and smoothie restaurants that was popular in 1994.