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Le Chat Rouge Opening Soon, DIP Coming This Summer

Two adjacent storefronts on a prime strip of Grant Avenue are finally going to see some business activity soon.

Le Chat Rouge, a French bakery at 1314 Grant Ave., is in the final stretch and should be open within a few weeks, owner David Carbonell recently told us. He's been beset by delays in city approvals for months, but he says he's close to opening for real this time. And DIP, a sandwich and butcher shop next door at 1318 Grant Ave. should open within a few months, according to owner Mahmoud Khossoussi, who also owns the neighboring Mo's Grill, and Maykadeh Restaurant at 470 Green St.


David Carbonell.

We'll get back to Le Chat Rouge as it's closer to opening with more details; read what we've reported so far. As for DIP, we wrote nearly a year ago that it was fast-tracked for a conditional use permit through a new city program the Planning Commission approved on February 12th, 2015, called the CB3P program, which stands for Community Business Priority Processing program. Khoussoussi laughed when we asked about it, telling us yes, he got the conditional use permit, but then he had to get the building permits.

Now, the compact space is in full construction mode, and Khoussoussi let us in on April 7th, showing us where the cash register, refrigerator, steam tables and seating will be. There will be tables in front by the windows and a stand-up communal table along the left side as you enter. "It's going to look like a an old European butcher shop," he tells us, with black-and-white floors and white walls.


Khoussoussi in front of the forthcoming DIP.

The specialty will be French dip sandwiches, thus the name. Khossoussi says he'll use Acme Bread, and all of the meat will be natural, grass-fed or vegetable-fed and organic, and will be dipped in au jus and served with a side of au jus. Prices will run $10–14, and you can add a side of au gratin potatoes or pickles.

Khossoussi got the idea because his family enjoys eating French dip sandwiches at home, and his daughter, Haleh Cunningham, suggested making them to sell. Khossoussi said he was "bored" because he's not on site much at his two other restaurants, so they came up with the concept and already have hopes for expansion. They're looking at space in the Fillmore, Chestnut Street, Union Street and Hayes Valley, he tells us.

Because au jus sandwiches don't travel well, Khossoussi's also building a small kitchen for making higher-end restaurant quality comfort food entrees for delivery. They'll include osso buco, slow-cooked roast pork shoulder, Moroccan lamb steak and beef short ribs. They'll come with a side of bread and roasted vegetables, potatoes au gratin or mashed potatoes for about $20–$35 (for the pricier short ribs) and no delivery charge, because they have their own drivers.

We asked if Khossoussi will serve any vegetarian food, and he told us, "This is the place where vegetarians will change their religion. They'll become carnivorous by trying it." (Mo's is also known for its gourmet burgers, and Maykadeh also uses higher-end meats.) He said hours will be 11:30am–10:30pm to start, but he eventually plans to stay open late for the bar crowd.


Khoussoussi in front of Mo's.

Speaking of bars, DIP doesn't have a license to sell alcohol, but Khossoussi said he hopes the law changes so he can apply for one. He's also working on getting parklets installed in the parking spaces in front of Mo's and DIP so people can sit outside. 

"North Beach is coming back," Khossoussi said. "North Beach used to be the center of food in San Francisco. I think it's coming back to that point again." He also noted that while food in the city can be pricey, "The quality of the food is much higher than other areas. The best stuff is here."

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