How do you follow up a five-year-old, critically beloved neighborhood restaurant that remains one of the hottest tickets in town, and just as fresh and well loved as it was the month after it opened? Well, in the case of Frances and chef-owner Melissa Perello, the answer is to try to repeat the feat in slightly larger form, in a new neighborhood. When the Baker & Banker space which was the original home of Quince, and was once upon a time an apothecary came up for grabs last fall, Perello jumped on it.
As she told the Chronicle, the new restaurant, dubbed Octavia (it sits atop the hill at Octavia and Bush), will be another "quaint neighborhood restaurant" very much in the vein of Frances. "I’ve said all along that the idea is not trying to reinvent the wheel," she says. "Frances is so small, and we have so many people that want to come in, so we’re expanding, in a way."
The team is aiming for a spring opening, but the month has not been nailed down, pending completion of construction in the space.
The additions here, besides more seats, include a communal table up front for walk-ins, a private dining room in back the space Baker & Banker used as a bakery, and was once Quince's prep kitchen/private dining area and a slightly different wine program from Frances wine guy Paul Einbund, the man behind the brilliant by-the-ounce tap-wine blends there. At Octavia, the house wines will be seasonally changing custom blends made by local winemakers for the restaurant. The first two will come from Paul Hobbs Wines and Skinner Vineyards .
Frances, which held a Michelin star for several years and lost it for unclear reasons, remains a fixture on the Chronicle Top 100 and most local foodinistas' favorites lists. Tellingly, when SFist crunched the numbers on accolades and mentions of Bay Area restaurants last year, Frances remained in the top 10 alongside the likes of much tonier heavyweights like Meadowood, Saison, Benu, and Quince.