Veteran restaurant-goers are already lamenting the end of an era with the announcement late last week that overpass-adjacent Woodward's Garden was calling it quits. As many other longtime businesses have, the 22-year-old restaurant has faced a lease issue, with a landlord who's clearly got his/her sights on a more lucrative tenant.
The white-tablecloth establishment first came to life in 1992 at the hands of chef-owners Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino, and they've stayed true to their California aesthetic ever since, serving creative salads and sustainably raised meat in a cozy setting albeit one that's at the edge of the Mission and SoMa, at the corner of Mission and Division/Duboce, underneath the Central Freeway. Their signatures, in addition to mismatched vintage china and seasonal cooking, was the homey style of the place itself. As Conard and Tommasino told the Chronicle when they were named Rising Stars in 1994 (alongside chefs Michael Mina, Traci Des Jardins, and Loretta Keller), "Much of the charm of the place is its size, the intimacy To expand, or move, might mean losing that.”
Keep in mind that there was little else in the area back then besides a couple dive bars and Pauline's Pizza. Now, Conard says, Valencia is like "an outdoor mall."
Just last year they were still raking in accolades, with Martha Stewart naming Woodward's Garden one of her favorite spots in San Francisco because of how they "trail-blazed seasonal farm-to-table cooking."
As Tablehopper reports, Conard and Tommasino are likely shutting things down within a month, and they say that while they have no concrete plans for their next venture, they are "thrilled at the prospect of a new restaurant/project."
Fans, or curious young foodinistas, should try to check the place out before it disappears. It may not be the most trailblazing spot in town anymore, but at least you can say you were there.
Previously: Margie Conard and Dana Tommasino of Woodward’s Garden on being Mission pioneers and fostering regulars [Inside Scoop]