Spot Check is a semi-regular feature (new to SF but old hat in NY) in which we take head counts at local eateries during prime dinner hours to see how many seats they’re filling in the current economy or season. This weekend, with the mass exodus toward the fresh powder in Tahoe, may not be the fairest of gauges — especially since January is a notoriously slow month for the food industry. But nonetheless this past Saturday evening we found a couple of smaller places just north of the CalTrain station, like the ever-popular Coco500, to be pretty packed, while larger venues like Bacar and the freshly relocated Osha Thai on 3rd (in the old Bong Su space) had plenty of empty chairs.
The following figures were observed and estimated between 7 and 8 p.m. on Saturday night, January 23rd. The energy was low but the room was somewhat busy at Bacar for dinner, but things were far more tumbleweedy at the vast, industrial space at Orson, and even more empty at new-ish taqueria The Iron Cactus down the street, which may be doing a better lunch business in that particular ‘hood. Coco500 and Fringale were both buzzing, with only two six-tops at Coco empty and every other seat full. Down on Townsend Street, the still papered-over South space sits waiting for its February transformation into Jennifer Puccio’s new French-influenced home.
Bacar – 108 diners, approximately 160 seats available (based on estimated seating capacity, not counting bar chairs and downstairs private dining area)
Coco500 – 72 diners, 84 seats available (not counting bar, which was full)
Fringale – 52 diners, 54 seats available (plus 4 stools full at bar)
The Iron Cactus – 16 diners, approximately 75 seats available
Orson – 50 diners, approximately 90 seat available (not counting bar or upstairs)
Osha Thai – 32 diners, approximately 100 seats available (based on estimated seating capacity, not counting private dining room)