Himalayan Pizza & Momo is set to open in the Tenderloin in the next few months. The new Nepalese restaurant—from the family behind Hayes Valley's Saffron Grill—will take over 288 Golden Gate Ave. (near Hyde), a vacant spot that was previously home to Taj Pizza.
The company has applied for building permits and expects to start construction as soon as they are issued, general manager Santosh Gurung told us. Gurung has managed Saffron Grill for the past three years.
Gurung, who lives in the Tenderloin, said he wants to introduce the neighborhood to Nepalese culture and food.
"The Tenderloin is great, and this location has a lot of potential," he said. The new restaurant will be close to City Hall, Civic Center and UC Hastings Law School.
The restaurant’s decor will include Nepali art and music, and will specialize in momo, Nepalese dumplings. It will also offer a regional twist on pizza and sandwiches. There will be vegan and gluten-free options, and all of the meat served will be halal.
Gurung has applied for a beer and wine liquor license and plans to host a happy hour from 3 to 5pm, serving locally sourced beer and wine, along with beverages from Nepal and India.
He said the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control wants to see the completed restaurant before issuing a permit. “It has become like a health permit, they want to check everything out before giving an OK,” he said.
Himalayan Pizza and Momo’s head chef will be Nab Raj Dhakal, who owned and managed Kathmandu Pizza House in Nepal before moving to the US in 2011. Dhakal—who has also worked at Chico's Pizza for the past six years—will be joined in the kitchen by Saffron Grill cook Ranjit Gurung, who will come in as tandoori chef.
If the timing works out, Gurung said he might apply for an SF Shines grant to upgrade the restaurant's facade, but his focus is on opening as soon as possible.
“I have a plumber, and electrician [and] an architect, all ready to go” as soon as the construction permit is issued, he said.
Once Himalayan Pizza nears its opening date, it will host an open house for nearby businesses and friends and family to introduce itself to the neighborhood, he said.
While prices have not been set, Gurung's goal is to keep the restaurant competitive with nearby options, including Subway and Round Table.
Once the Tenderloin location is up and running, Gurung and his partners at Shree Yago Bahara, the family company behind Himalayan Pizza and Saffron Grill, hope to open another California-style Nepalese restaurant in the Bay Area.
Initially, Himalayan Pizza and Momo will be open seven days a week from 11am until midnight, although hours may change once it opens.
Never miss a story.
Subscribe today to get Hoodline delivered straight to your inbox.