The idea of Daniel Patterson dining at, let alone taking over, San Francisco's oldest steakhouse Alfred's takes a little suspension of disbelief. But you'd better believe it's happening, says Inside Scoop.
What's meant by that is simply that Patterson is a highly contemporary cook who's always been on more of a vegetable bent. Well decorated for innovation, just he and David Kinch are featured in Modernist Cuisine as far as Bay Area chefs, for whatever that's worth. That's to say that you're not exactly getting a T-bone at Patterson flagship Coi, though you can find a ribeye at his other spots such as Alta CA or Aster in San Francisco and Plum Bar and Haven in Oakland.
Further, 1928-founded Alfred's wasn't looking to be bought, but Patterson was instead looking to buy. He approached the Petri family, Alfred's owners, and they looked over and accepted his offer.
The space will reportedly change hands after a big finale on New Year's Eve. Following a bit of light renovation during which the rich, regal interior will receive minor updates, the restaurant will return in February. Charlie Parker, currently the chef at Haven in Oakland, will take over Alfred's kitchen, and changes will include an update to sourcing and preparation for vegetables. This is 2015: Even at a steakhouse, beef can't steal every show.
The Chronicle's Michael Bauer called Alfred's steaks "superb" in 2010, noting that after Al Petri transferred the reins to son Marco Petri it was "a tribute to him that Alfred's has never been better." And in an update about the restuarant last year, Bauer remarked that it was so retro as to almost feel modern. Prescient, Michael!
The move can also be seen as in keeping with Patterson's push to become, above all, a restaurateur. He's even stepping back at Coi to make that possible while readying for another project, this one with with Roy Choi, that's generating more than its fair share of food world buzz: Loco'l. That ones also an ambitious take on another carnivorous concept, fast food.
"We're not looking to change [Alfred's] that much,” said Ron Boyd, director of operations of the Daniel Patterson Group. “We want to make sure it's around for both future generations and people who go there now... Keep up with generations... That's all we want to do. We want to see places like (Alfred’s) survive, and even if they have to change or adapt, it's nice to see some tradition in a city that’s changing so fast.”
"We looked at the numbers,” Al Petri, who retired in 2010 and now lives in Washington, continued. “I don't know where the San Francisco market is going. It’s a very expensive market right now and it might be at its peak, so the move looked pretty good... What I liked about Daniel is that he wanted to continue the use of the name of Alfred’s.... That was a feel-good position for me: That it will continue to go on, without my headaches.”
The Petri's themselves. took over Alfred's in 1973 from the restaurant's founder and namesake, Alfredo Bacchini, who according to restaurant lore "came to New York from his home town, Cattolica, Italy, with only a $20 gold piece and a train ticket to San Francisco."
"This is a bittersweet move with the decision not made lightly," the Petris wrote on Facebook, "Our family involvement, our loyal staff, and our respected customers have all contributed to what we are today. We all feel that Daniel Patterson and his talented colleagues will bring a new brilliance to Alfred's, while respectfully maintaining much of the tradition instilled here."
Alfred's Steakhouse, 659 Merchant Street (near Kearny Street)