The restaurateur behind the former Colibri Mexican Bistro near Union Square and La Urbana on Divisadero, as well as Zazil Cocina Mexicana and El Jardin at San Jose's Santana Row, has signed a deal to take over two spaces at the Presidio, including the former Arguello space at the Presidio Officers' Club.
Eduardo Rallo is the man behind the newly christened Presmex Group — a play on Rallo's existing restaurant group name, Resmex — which has just signed the two leases with the Presidio Trust, as the Chronicle reports. And in addition to taking over the Arguello space that was relinquished by Traci Des Jardins during the pandemic, Rallo will also be opening something else — presumably smaller — in a space at the soon-to-open Presidio Tunnel Tops.
Rallo was a partner in the splashy La Urbana, the upscale Mexican restaurant and mezcal bar that opened at Divisadero and Grove in 2013 and closed three years later. And the longer-lived Colibri, which opened in 2004 and was one of the first restaurants to introduce San Francisco to upscale takes on Oaxacan cuisine, closed its doors in the early pandemic and never reopened.
Rallo also has been introducing a casual Mexican-style rotisserie chicken concept called Chika — originally called Parranga when it opened in 2018 in Mill Valley, it now just has one location operating at Santana Row.
While Rallo has not yet given any details about what the plans are for the Presidio spaces, it's not a huge stretch to imagine that Chika might be the thing that would fit into a counter-service-type spot at the Presidio Tunnel Tops, or maybe it will be something more like the outdoor, tequila-bar vibe of El Jardin.
As the Chronicle notes, there's another, 6,000-square-foot restaurant space in the Presidio Tunnel Tops project that does not yet have a taker. And Traci Des Jardins' former Commissary space at the Presidio Main Post also remains vacant and without a signed tenant.
But the Presidio Trust only recently pivoted to signing leases with restaurateurs, rather than trying to manage the spaces itself and contracting with caterer-operators — Des Jardins had one of the latter deals, in partnership with Bon Appetit Management, which held the main contract with the Presidio until that deal was dissolved early last year. A rep for Des Jardins said at the time that the decision was made "due to the complicated pressures brought by the COVID-19 pandemic."
Rallo's group, Presmex, now has 15-year leases for both the Arguello and Tunnel Tops spaces, per the Chronicle.
SFist will alert you as soon as we learn what Rallo has planned.