In the back garden at Nectar, the artist Romanowski is pushing tiki torches into the earth and rearranging pots overflowing with succulents. The opening party for his art installation at the space, formerly Katz, is Saturday night, and there's still plenty to do.
"I'm working with what I found here," Romanowski says, pointing out an old garden fountain that he's using as a planter. In the shade of a large palm, a smaller palm grows up through the middle of an iron dining table, and trellises have been installed in the back of the space for vines to climb.
Katz had always had a Mediterranean vibe - warm colors, rustic wooden furniture, arched doorways leading out toward a lush garden. But now, in its new incarnation as Nectar, the space has a whole new layer of appeal. Romanowski has teamed up with Nectar's ownership to install his mixed media pieces in the restaurant.
The walls are lined with layered wooden pieces, made with old skateboards, piano keys, and desk drawers and planted with succulents.
The new look goes with the new menu. Bagels and egg sandwiches will still be served for breakfast, but now there will be sandwiches, salads and pizza for lunch and dinner, as well as beer and wine. The restaurant will be open from 8am to 10pm.
"I've been doing bagels for 19 years," says owner Mike Katz. "I want to do something new." Aside from the expanded menu, Katz wants to put an emphasis on healthy food and organic ingredients where possible. "It will feel like a brand new business," he says, noting that they may eventually move to sit-down dinner service.
"I want to give the community affordable food that tastes good."
Katz and Romanowski have a mutual friend (the owner of neighboring business Gallery 683), and their collaboration started with the restaurant's new sign, a collection of succulents spelling out its name. Romanowski has been working on Nectar for three months, and his art is entirely installed. "He's the perfect fit," Katz says. "His stuff works really well in the space." Romanowski's work will be up for a few months.
The patio, however, is still a work in progress.
"There's no other space like this in the Lower Haight," Romanowski says. The permitting isn't done yet, but Katz plans on having another opening for Nectar when the new menu is fully ramped up and the patio is open from 9am to 8pm, hopefully before the end of July.
The opening party for Romanowski's Nectar installations is tonight, June 23, from 6 to 10pm. There will be a preview of the new menu, as well as beer and wine. The invitation for the party is a tag attached to a large seed pod, meant to be planted and grown into a trumpet vine — an appropriately creative way to introduce this unique new addition to the Lower Haight.