A bit of local food world drama: Two minority chefs who appear to have had creative or managerial differences with Daniel Patterson's Alta Group, Nigel Jones of SF's Kaya and Reem Assil of Oakland's Dyafa, have ended or are in the process of ending their relationships with Patterson.
Kaya, Jones' one-year-old Caribbean-inspired restaurant in the former Alta CA space on Market Street, closed this week. And the Chronicle reports that Jones made the decision to close and cut ties with the Alta Group in part because he did not feel like it was his restaurant any longer. Jones has now filed a lawsuit against Patterson, claiming that Patterson did not fulfill some financial obligations, which Patterson denies.
Similarly, Assil, who signed a consulting agreement with the group to open the Mediterranean restaurant Dyafa in the former Haven space in Jack London Square, says that while she is still working at the restaurant, she will be leaving on August 1. She tells the Chronicle that she felt "tokenized without getting enough in return," and goes further to say that "I think many of [these investor] relationships end up exploiting [people of color] and women for the social capital they bring rather than helping them build more social capital."
The news about these two restaurants come after a tumultuous year for Patterson's restaurant group. As SFist discussed last week, chef Heena Patel of Besharam in Dogpatch broke ties with Patterson's restaurant group last month in a similar fashion. Alta Group has also backed off from its much publicized fast-food chain project, Locol, closing all of its locations in Oakland and Los Angeles. And one of the restaurant group's stars, Brett Cooper, decided to decamp to LA and close his Michelin-starred Mission restaurant Aster. That space is becoming the Guamanian restaurant Prubechu, in partnership with the Alta Group.
Patterson tells the Chronicle, "There is no blueprint for the work we’re trying to do. I wish we’d taken on less and been able to do a better job in some cases building trust through communication, and I feel badly about that."
The Alta Group also announced last week that it is no longer going to open a location of Alta in the new Yotel on Market Street. It is unclear what is happening with that space, or the Kaya space a few blocks away.
Prubechu is set to open soon, having originally announced "mid-May" as an opening timeframe.
Photo: Betty C./Yelp