When Noe Valley bakery and sandwich shop La Panotiq shuttered in 2017, "it was a lose-lose situation for both the tenant and for us," said Samir Salameh, whose family owns the building at 4018 24th St. (at Castro).
"[They] had surrendered the space, abandoned their lease agreement, and eventually closed all of their locations," he said.
Facing a vacant storefront, Salameh, who lives in a unit upstairs, "wanted to do something more meaningful," he said. So he decided to take over the space himself and open his first restaurant, to be called Wallflower.
An interior designer by trade, Salameh has run Room Service, a design consulting and home staging company, for the last 10 years.
"I felt like 24th Street had baked goods covered, and I wanted to create something a little more long-lasting," he said. At Wallflower, he's hoping to serve affordable Mediterranean fare, paired with local wines.
Because the storefront's use has evolved over the years — it housed retailer Global Exchange for more than two decades before being repermitted as a limited-use restaurant for La Panotiq — Salameh has to undergo the conditional use authorization (CU) process to reopen it as a full-service restaurant.
"The street has limited options for people. I've lived here for 10 years and I've seen it change," he said. "I thought it was worth it to go the extra mile and obtain a beer and wine license, too."
Wallflower will serve lunch and dinner weekdays, with brunch service joining the lineup on weekends. Salameh hasn't yet identified who will be at the kitchen's helm, but said he's already worked out the menu.
"It's going to be Mediterranean-based, with lots of fresh veggies and plant-based dishes, meat and poultry and fish," he explained. "There won't be a lot of butter used or heavy starches." He also plans to offer a number of items for people with dietary restrictions and gluten allergies.
"Expect a lot of shared plates and family-style food," he said. "I want to create a space that feels upscale, but is very affordable and comfortable."
If all goes to plan, he hopes to start construction as soon as he's given the green light by the Planning Commission, where his CU application is scheduled to be heard this Thursday, Jan. 24.
He said he's looking forward to serving the community he calls home.
"I'm a Palestinian gay man who's been in the Bay Area since I was 2," he explained. "It's in my DNA to be a gracious host and to make people happy. This street is my home, and I love it. I want to make it feel special, and [for] everyone to feel welcome."
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