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Restaurant/art gallery 'Palette' to move to permanent SoMa space

The dining room at Palette's current pop-up location, at 816 Folsom St. | Photos: Palette/Yelp
By Alisa Scerrato - Published on November 18, 2019.

After eight months in operation as a pop-up, SoMa's Palette has announced that it will open a permanent space in February, at 155 12th St. (at Howard). 

Palette, which fuses a fine dining restaurant with an art gallery, has been in business at the former Lulu space at 816 Folsom St. since March. (It's not to be confused with Ghirardelli Square dim sum eatery Palette Tea House, which has different owners.)

Owner Peter J. Hemsley is both the restaurant's chef and a practicing artist. After cooking at Quince and other fine-dining restaurants in San Francisco over the years, he felt there was something lacking.

"For me, I wanted the experience to be more comprehensive," he said. "Palette is ... meant to meld the worlds of art and cuisine, to not only enjoy your meal, but spark conversation."

Palette's soon-to-be location on 12th Street. | Photo: Google Maps

At the new location on 12th Street, Hemsley will offer a five-course set menu. Some dishes will change by the day or week, to spotlight local produce. For the time being, the restaurant will only be open for dinner service, as well as cocktails at the bar. 

The art gallery portion of the space will be open to non-diners, changing its programming every six to eight weeks. Art can also be found on the table: Palette has a house ceramicist, Andrew Kontrabecki, who designs its plates, while glassblower Sam Schumacher creates handmade glassware for the bar.

Palette's new location on 12th Street, between Howard and Van Ness, is a challenging one. Few businesses on the surrounding blocks are open after dark, and most of the neighbors are auto-body shops. (1601 Bar & Kitchen, which has operated at 12th & Howard since 2013, is a rare exception.)

When Hemsley started looking for a restaurant space in 2016, he had his eye on the FiDi, Jackson Square, Pacific Heights and Hayes Valley. But to operate both a restaurant and an art gallery, he said, he had to look outside of traditional restaurant corridors.

"I was attracted to this developing neighborhood, the 'WeMa' (West SoMa), because there were large industrial spaces there that were ripe for creative development," he said.

The gallery space at 816 Folsom St. | Photo: Palette/Yelp

At the Folsom Street location, "there’s been a learning curve, but the response has been overall very positive, and we are excited to continue our work," Hemsley said.

While the pop-up has yet to set a closing date, Hemsley said he's excited about opening the new location in the next few months.

"I hope [customers] will join us in this new experiential way of dining out and supporting the Bay Area arts community," he said."

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