The cafe spaces on either side of Union Square will almost surely be seeing some new life soon, and celebrity chef Tyler Florence is behind the project.

Mayor London Breed is taking some credit for attaching Tyler Florence to the cafe spaces, which have sat unused since the start of the pandemic, but the selection of Florence's hospitality company, the Greater Organization, apparently came after a request for bids by the Recreation and Parks Department. The selection of Florence's company and the leases still need approval by the Rec & Parks Commission and the Board of Supervisors, but the city is motivated to get the cafes open in time for the holiday shopping season, by November 2023.

Both cafes will be called Miller & Lux Provisions, after Florence's swanky two-year-old steakhouse at Chase Center, Miller & Lux. One cafe, on the Powell Street side — formerly Emporio Rulli and more recently Union Square Coffee, will be focused on coffee, breakfast and brunch items, and sweets from Miller & Lux pastry chef Karla Marro. The other, a cafe most recently called Alma by McCall's catering on the Stockton side, will be modeled after Tyler Florence Fresh, the food concession inside Napa Farms Market at SFO, with rotisserie chicken, charcuterie plates, and other savory items.

"So many legendary chefs have paved the way for what has become San Francisco’s excellent dining culture and we are proud to carry the torch in such a historic landmark as Union Square," Florence said in a statement. "I couldn’t be more excited to help with the revitalization of the city through Miller & Lux Provisions, two new café experiences that I know will bring people downtown. Between a new exhibition pastry kitchen and perfect food for relaxing over lunch or picnicking in the square, there’s something here for everyone."

We heard earlier this year that Florence was potentially doubling down on his presence in the Financial District, with plans to open a second Wayfare Tavern location on Pine Street — though we never had any confirmation about whether this was a relocation plan for the existing tavern.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, though, suggests Florence may be staying put at the space at Sacramento and Leidesdorff streets and helping to "beautify" Leidesdorff alley.

"I’m delighted that a constituent I’ve been working with to activate Commercial and Leidesdorff alleys has now also been selected to bring his signature brand of American cuisine to Union Square," Peskin said in a statement. "Tyler Florence is a perfect fit for the hybrid indoor/outdoor aesthetic of a new, improved and activated Union Square destination. Whether it’s creating a state-of-the-art outdoor performance stage, beautifying the historic alleyways or bringing Tyler Florence’s Wayfare Tavern success to Union Square, we are investing as a City in the future of this mixed-use neighborhood."

Florence, who began his culinary career in New York, is best known for hosting Food Network shows like The Great Food Truck Race. He relocated his family over a decade ago to Marin County, and opened Wayfare Tavern, which was followed by a partnership with Sammy Hagar at El Paseo in Mill Valley. Florence is no longer involved in the latter restaurant, which was recently rebranded as Paseo Bistro.

Miller & Lux debuted at the Chase Center in 2021.

"Union Square is an iconic part of our City and we are excited to partner with Chef Tyler Florence to make it even better,” says Mayor London Breed. “I’m proud of the progress we have made toward our economic recovery and excited to continue to promote San Francisco as a world-class food destination.”  

The city's release notes that, starting next year, Another Planet Entertainment will be bringing live performers to Union Square on a regular basis, as part of a three-year deal.