The grand, Art Deco-inspired space recently vacated by Jardiniere did not have to wait long for a taker, but the concept isn't likely to go over well with the symphony / ballet / opera set who frequented Jardiniere. It's vegan Italian comfort food.
Yeah, not what I expected either!
As the Chronicle reports, the project, called Baia, is backed by Tracy Vogt, the owner of a farm animal sanctuary in Sonoma, and well known vegan chef Matthew Kenney. The New England native has 25 upscale vegan restaurants around the country, including the vegan pizzeria chain Double Zero, and Plant Food + Wine in LA's Venice Beach. (The menu there should inform us about what the new SF restaurant will look like, with items like crostini with cashew "raclette," and kelp noodle cacio e pepe.)
Vogt happens to be married to local founder Kyle Vogt, whose self-driving car company Cruise, now part of General Motors, just closed a $1.5 billion funding round and is worth $19 billion.
Vogt is betting that SF's vegans are starving for more upscale dining options, telling the Chron, "The ones we have are always packed full every night."
But in a city as rich as this one is with amazing and incredibly varied Italian options, will there be cross-over potential for non-vegans in a restaurant as huge as the former Jardiniere? "I definitely think there is a market for more plant-based restaurants in the Bay Area, as people are becoming more concerned with their health ... and animal welfare concerns associated with a traditional meat-heavy diet," Vogt says.
Vogt also assures us that her team will be modernizing the space "a bit," but still retaining its "classic character."
Eater spotted a rather flowery pullquote from Kenney's website about the nascent restaurant: "The identity of Baia exists at the intersection of opulence and approachability; the menu will offer a selection of innovative gourmet dishes, inclusive of all dining preferences and accommodating to all occasions." All dining preferences, that is, except ones involving cheese or meat.
Stay tuned for details about the opening date.