Friday evening Daniel Patterson sent out a missive announcing a split with chef Lauren Kiino, who partnered with Patterson on Il Cane Rosso — the Daniel Patterson Group’s fast-casual concept at the Ferry Building — and helped to open Plum in Oakland. In the split, Kiino will take sole ownership of Il Cane Rosso and plans to open her own restaurant elsewhere in San Francisco. Kiino was set to become executive chef at Patterson’s upcoming Jack London Square restaurant Bracina, but Patterson now informs Grub Street, “Bracina was her name, so we’re choosing a new name.” That name and the new chef hire are still not 100 percent nailed down, but he updated us on the evolving concept of the restaurant, and hinted that another fast-casual eatery may be in the works, likely involving burgers and sausage!
(Update: An anonymous source informs us that the split may not have been *entirely* amicable, and Kiino had to fight for her share of the business. We further reached out to Kiino, not to discuss the Il Cane Rosso/Bracina matter, but she informed us that she is considering projects in both San Francisco and Los Angeles, and has yet to make a decision which to pursue. She is currently seeking investment capital.)
Talk of Patterson’s Jack London Square plans go back about two years now, since he signed on to the growing redevelopment project that includes a huge marketplace space and several other restaurants that haven’t opened. “Electronic files don’t really gather dust,” Patterson quips, “But if they did, we would have been dusting them off.” He tells us that they’re now, at long last, starting construction in a few weeks on the unnamed restaurant, and that they’re very close to being able to announce a chef hire. All he can tell us now is that the person is local, and that the Group’s culinary director Ron Boyd was responsible for finding him/her. “It’s gone so well with Charlie [Parker, chef de cuisine at Plum], and he’s done such a great job. It takes being familiar with the farms, comfortable with the products…”
Patterson further explains that the content and design of the restaurant hasn’t changed much since we spoke last year, but he does flesh out some more details about how he sees the new restaurant, as well as a possible fourth project, differing from Plum and the obviously more refined Coi. “The idea is that it’s a very approachable restaurant,” Patterson says. “70 seats, outside patio, open every day, at the beginning just for dinner and then later for brunch and lunch. The design is very elemental: brick, metal, wood, a lot of light, totally different from Plum. We’ll even put backs on the stools.” But the delay may work in Patterson’s favor, and as he puts it, “The momentum in Oakland is so much greater than it was a year ago.”
The format of the menu, which still isn’t 100% firm, is going to be fairly original, with a focus on communal eating. There’ll be a few bar snacks and appaetizers, but main course dishes can be ordered in variable sizes, either for one person, two, three, or however many diners will be sharing that course. Each family-style dish will then come with a couple of appropriate sides. Patterson feels like this plan will allow for more diversity on the menu, and give the kitchen the ability to order more products fresh each day. Also, he hopes it will add to a unique mood for the restaurant. “There’s something very primal about sitting down to dinner at someone’s house, and the way the food’s put out, that lends a certain emotional connection to the meal that is necessarily a little different.” The prices at the new Jack London restaurant may be slightly higher than at Plum, where all the dishes are under $20.
And this brings us to the fast-casual project that’s likely coming further down the pipeline. Now that he’ll own three restaurants, Patterson’s goal is to be able to order more whole animals and share them between the restaurants. He notes how difficult it is to buy specific pasture-raised cuts, in bulk, and the disadvantage of ordering whole animals is that you end up with a lot of trim and therefore a ton of ground meat. “I guess that means we need to open a burger and a sausage joint!” he hints. But he notes that project is probably about a year off, and our guess is from earlier hints that it would be in Oakland as well.
When the Jack London places opens in the fall, Patterson himself won’t be doing any of the cooking. He’ll be heavily involved with developing the menu, but as with many chef-entrepreneurs, he says he’s happy to take more of a hands-off, creative roll in his growing mini-empire, allowing him to concentrate his attention on Coi. “If I didn’t have Ron [Boyd], I would give up all these other restaurants,” he says. “I’m really not built to run multiple restaurants. I feel like I’m part of a larger group now, and I’m incredibly happy with the way things have gone with Plum. Will I be around? Sure. Will I be in the kitchen? Nah. I don’t need to be.”
Earlier: Charlie Parker to Take the Helm at Plum [Grub Street]
Daniel Patterson: Casual Plum to Have ‘Coi Lineage’ [Grub Street]