San Francisco

Owners Of 'The Booksmith' And 'Two Sisters' Buy 'The Alembic'

Yesterday, Mikha Diaz of Two Sisters Bar and Books and Christin Evans of The Booksmith announced their purchase of The Alembic bar in the Upper Haight.

Via email, Diaz and Evans told Hoodline that they've been seeking a collaboration for some time and are "thrilled to undertake this project together."

After the transition—which officially took place on Monday—the "new Alembic will honor the bar's reputation as a destination for visitors" and a neighborhood haven, said the partners.

To the team, that means reviving the "traditions of community care [and] loving hospitality," paired with its planned menu of craft cocktails and food offerings. 

The twelve-year-old saloon has undergone some changes in recent months, most notably with the addition of chef Rachel Aronow, who led efforts to revamp and elevate the menu.

Alembic founder Dave McLean turned over ownership of the pub to its landlords three years ago after filing for bankruptcy, Eater has reported. 

Photo: Fran B./Yelp

But with the additional proposed changes, Aronow will also part ways, since the new owners plan to go in a different direction. “We really admire what she’s done,” Diaz told Eater. “She’s a talented young chef—we’re just doing something a little different.”

As for new management, Alembic will be bringing in Dillon Barry (formerly of Johnston’s Saltbox in San Carlos) and bar manager Kathryn Kulczyk and Branden Cardelli from Two Sisters. 

The space will close for light design upgrades and modifications, reopening in mid-May. Current staff will receive severance checks and first consideration for positions when the spot reopens, partially because "the old legal entity had to initiate separation because that financial entity is being wound down," Evans said. 

"We have great respect for the most recent Alembic team and during this transition are handling staffing the way we would want to be treated if we were in the same shoes," she added. 

Diaz and Evans said they plan to combine elements of Two Sisters and The Booksmith to create a "symbiosis of the brands." As a result, the pub will offer a curated selection of books to buy or browse.

The Alembic is located next door to The Bindery. | Photo: Google

As for programing, Diaz said they are exploring opportunities for cross-programing with next-door The Bindery, which Evans also owns. Book clubs that formerly met at Two Sisters will reconvene at Alembic, "which of course we are thrilled about," said Diaz. 

Though the watering hole is changing hands, expect to see familiar craft cocktails, draft brews, wine and coffee and tea, along with "seasonal, approachable American plates, desserts and brunch" on the weekends, according to a statement. 

Would-be patrons can also have their say in what the future menu will look like by sending suggestions to the business via email.

"In the next few weeks, we will be firming up our menu for our re-open," said Diaz. "We see The Alembic as a legacy business and as such, would love to hear from people about what they have loved about The Alembic in the past and what they would like to see going forward." 

The Alembic will be open Tuesday–Sunday with late-night kitchen service debuting in the fall. 


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