Chalk up another pandemic casualty in the bar and restaurant scene, and this one is going to hurt for denizens of the Lower Haight and Duboce Triangle area. Maven (598 Haight Street at Steiner) will be closing at the end of this month after nine years of solid food, great burgers and cocktails, and good times.
Owner Jay Bordeleau announced the news to SFist, saying that the restaurant's last day would be March 29. He says the reason is that Maven was "unable to find a reasonable path forward with our landlord."
"The phrase, ‘Such a total bummer,’ is beyond an understatement," Bordeleau says. "Maven’s love affair with the Lower Haight started even before we opened when neighbors crashed our investor preview night and instantly made it a better party. First dates turned into our regulars; even hosted a few weddings, and then met their kids. (Warning: This is what can happen after a few cocktails!)"
Maven debuted in December 2011 to pretty much immediate good reviews. The menu focused on casual pub fare and beverage pairings — originally divided in columns with cocktail, beer, and wine suggestions to go with each dish.
The space had originally been occupied by RNM, an upscale restaurant from the previous decade, owned by chef-owner Justine Miner, that marked the first true sign of gentrification in the Lower Haight — a neighborhood that held onto its come-as-you-are 90s cred well into the 2010s, after Valencia and Divisadero began their retail and restaurant transformations.
With Maven, there came that vertical garden wall, communal tables downstairs, and craft cocktails originally mixed by Kate Bolton.
Chefs and mixologists turned over a bit in the last decade, but the spirit of Maven — and its excellent burger with Angostura bitters in the meat mix — remained a steady source of comfort in the 'hood.
"Finding a new favorite spot, felt like it was your special neighborhood restaurant," Bordeleau says in a eulogy of sorts. "Our staff has been the cornerstone of our concept: Just hire nice people who give a damn. It’s been a wonderful work environment to learn, to laugh, and to hustle. We learned from each other and improved, be it how to ferment black garlic, how to louche absinthe, or how to improve our language, realizing the impact of our words."
Bordeleau says he regrets that he had to lay off 10 staffers when the pandemic began, and now he'll be laying off five more at the end of the month. Until then there will be more burgers and drinks to be had — see the outdoor dining menu here. Stuff is also available to takeout or DoorDash delivery.
"Thank you to Lower Haight for being the best damn neighborhood," Bordeleau says. "We got another a few weeks of hustle in us. Let’s have a good time and saber some Champagne."
Photo: Sandy C./Yelp