As SFist reported exclusively last week, the Viking Room at Cafe du Nord, which opened last year with the promise of offering a full dinner menu in a sort of supper club environment with regular performances on its stage, has temporarily closed, and its original menu has been truncated somewhat to be a bit more bar-friendly. Today I got confirmation from manager Morgan Schick, from the Bon Vivants team that developed the bar program, that the back room will be trying to be more of a parti-time event space, but also with publicly accessible music events on a regular basis.
Currently food is being served off the somewhat shorter menu including larger plates like the burger, fried chicken, and steak frites in the lounge only, but Schick expects the first scheduled performance in the Viking Room in about a month or so, with many more to come and a full schedule TBA.
As for the reasons for the change, Schick says in their first year of operation, it just started to become clear that the room functioned better for parties than it did as a restaurant. "There's a ton of great restaurants in San Francisco, and great ones opening all the time, but there are fewer and fewer places where you can go and get a drink and a bite and see a cool show." He adds that they saw the success of a number of special events they had back in the Viking Room, "whether it was with a [liquor] brand, or a chef, or just a buddy of ours who went down there with a big group and played piano and sang, and we just realized we were missing the mark, and this is really room for people to come have fun in."
He ultimately sees the ratio of public to private events being about 50-50, but he says, "A lot of the music programming we're thinking of is kind of sporadic. So, as a result I could see a week where there's something going on every night, and then a week where there's only something happening two nights." Of the potential music you might see there, he says they're talking to Noise Pop (which manages the Swedish American Hall upstairs) about booking "some people you'd be really excited to see in a small room."
Food will continue to be served in the Viking room during these shows, but there is a possibility that you'll stumble upon other kinds of events back there that won't be limited to the regular Cafe du Nord bar menu. "We're talking about bringing in a guest bartender, or a guest chef here or there for a dinner series," Schick says, "So I could see scenarios where you go back there one night and find a whole different menu of cocktails with a certain spirit brand, or a separate food menu."
The main menu in the bar will continue to evolve over the coming months, he says, but staying in the same direction of seasonal salads, bar bites, raw bar items, and a few heartier plates. See the current menu here.