Melissa Perello, the much acclaimed chef at five-year-old Frances, looks to have finally landed on the perfect space where she can "replicate Frances on a larger scale" (as she told Hoodline last year): the about-to-be-vacated Baker & Banker in Pac Heights. Perello first hinted about her expansion plans almost a year and a half ago, saying she was contemplating NoPa and the Lower Haight as possibilities, but now Tablehopper caught the liquor license transfer in the works this week for the handsome space which was also the former home of Quince at 1701 Octavia (at Bush).
SFist has reached out to Perello for details and comment on the new project, but has not yet received a response. Baker & Banker is set to close this weekend, and given escrow, construction, and permits, any new restaurant would not likely open there until early/mid 2015 at the earliest.
Perello's career in S.F. has included stints at acclaimed fine-dining spots Aqua, Charles Nob Hill, and Fifth Floor. In a 2011 interview with Marie Claire she described coming up in the often tough, male-dominated world of high-end kitchens as grueling but ultimately satisfying. Of her time at Aqua, under executive chef Michael Mina (who swore at her frequently), she said, "I'd go home, cry, and have work-related anxiety dreams. But then when he praised my chiffonade of basil, it was all worth it."
Frances has remained steadily full since it opened in late 2009 in the Castro with reservations booked months in advance, and it ranked in the Top 10 on SFist's statistically driven Best Restaurants list. Over time it's received many accolades, including a Michelin star, and raves from Michael Bauer and others. It is, easily, one of San Francisco's most consistent and comforting neighborhood spots, and one with the kind of upscale cred despite its size and modest pricing that makes this the unique food city that it is.