Across the street from the newly-opened Tenderloin Museum, there's a new project afoot: an all-day restaurant, bar and lounge called Black Cat, now on its way to the northwest corner of Eddy & Leavenworth. Construction on the two-story project is set to begin next month, with a target opening date of late 2015.
Black Cat will span 4,200 square feet and will take over the full southeast corner of Leavenworth Street's Verona Hotel, including street level and cellar level. In the past, the ground-floor corner of the building was home to multiple restaurants—most recently the New Star Restaurant, a Chinese eatery that appears to have closed in 2013. Tiles found under the floorboards during initial demolition harken back to Rosslyn Grill, a 1919 eatery at the address.
The hotel will continue to be occupied by the Mary Elizabeth Inn women's organization, which operates a supportive housing program serving "low-income women who have been chronically homeless, women with disabilities and women who are victims of domestic violence." Black Cat owner Fritz Quattlebaum told us that "an entry level training program for residents of the neighborhood" is included in the restaurant's plans.
The building is "probably one of the most unique spaces in the city," says Quattlebaum.
Although the name of the design firm working on the interior has not yet been announced, Quattlebaum says that the design "will be like nothing else in San Francisco," noting that it will be a departure from the masculine brick and timber aesthetic currently en vogue. Instead, he tells us, it'll be a comfortable restaurant and lounge space that can cater to groups of friends. (Note: we have confirmed that G. Paoletti Design Lab, whose client list includes Maven and The Beer Hall, is in charge of designing the interior of Black Cat.)
Black Cat will be open from morning until night, rolling through a menu of dishes and drinks throughout the day. "There's not many places except hotels in San Francisco where you can eat, get a snack, or a drink, or champagne, or full meal of small plates," Quattlebaum tells us.
Service will begin in the morning, when coffee and breakfast will be served (with rumors of a breakfast banh mi on the menu). The space will stay open through lunch, where a small menu will rotate seasonally. In the afternoon, lunch fare will transition to a post-work beer and cocktail offering and dinner menu. Quattlebaum says that it'll be a place where no matter the time of day, small plates and drinks will be available.
Heading up the kitchen will be chef Ryan Cantwell, who has worked at Eccolo, Chez Panisse, Bar Jules, Zuni Cafe, and helped launch the Saltwater Oyster Depot in Inverness. He also recently moved three blocks away from the future home of Black Cat.
The menu will consist of small plates, featuring "American food with global influences." Cantwell posted a sneak peek of one trial menu item on his Instagram page:
As for why this location was chosen, Quattlebaum tells us simply that it's "in the heart of the city. It's four blocks from everything." He acknowledges that the Tenderloin neighborhood is changing, but believes it's a rejuvenation, and not a gentrification. "It was dead here before," he told us. "And now it's being brought back to life."
The renovations on the space will start in September, and the restaurant should open before the end of the year, if all goes as planned.