Friday, February 02, 2007

Hubert Keller's Burger Bar coming to SF

Fleur de Lys chef-owner Hubert Keller is bringing his Las Vegas concept Burger Bar back home to San Francisco, though he has not yet picked out a location.

Keller is also spreading Burger Bar to St. Louis, where one is already under construction as part of a casino project, and possibly to Hawaii.

Keller told me Burger Bar is doing close to 1,000 covers per day in Las Vegas and that he is hoping it will soon cross the $7 million per year revenue mark. Bon Apetit credits the ultra-luxe hamburger joint with spawning a long line of imitators after it opened in March 2004. High end burger places have since opened from chefs like Laurent Tourondel and David Burke in New York, Bobby Flay in Las Vegas (reportedly) and of course Thomas Keller in Napa Valley, who is hoping to soon uncork his burger place.

(Of course New York chef Daniel Boulud was serving a high-end burger at his DB Bistro Moderne by the start of 2003, before Keller’s Burger Bar, but that was not a standalone burger joint.)

I report all this in today's Business Times, along with what neighborhoods Hubert is looking in, what other restaurateurs think of the idea and why SF may be more perfect for Burger Bar than Las Vegas.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Separated at birth: Thomas and Hubert Keller

I really tried to maintain a spirit of good humor and playfulness as I read "A $3,000 taste of Vegas" in the Chicago Tribune.

But the newspaper's restaurant critic, Phil Vettel, seems quite serious when he writes "brothers Thomas and Hubert Keller have Sin City outposts."


(Thomas Keller, born in California, runs a little laundromat in Yountville, maybe you've heard of it.)

(Hubert Keller, born in France, operates a restaurant for Gallic monarchs in San Francisco, one of the city's three best restaurants according to the Chronicle.)

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Left Bank Las Vegas -- long way from Larkspur

Roland Passot and Ed Levine are "very, very likely" to soon sign a lease to put a Left Bank brasserie in suburban Las Vegas.

I report in today's Business Times that the duo are reviewing a draft contract to go into the Village at Queensridge, in an ultra-luxe suburb on the outskirts of Las Vegas. The mixed use development is supposedly like Santana Row on steroids.

The Vegas deal would be the launching point for a much broader expansion that would add 12-15 Left Banks throughout the western U.S. over the next five years or so.

Passot told me he does 800-900 covers a day out of the 300-seat Left Bank at Santana Row, with an average check of $38 per head. The Las Vegas edition would be roughly the same size.

FREE link: French cafe Left Bank to grow throughout West

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Charlie Palmer in Esquire

I was waiting in the salon for a severely tardy hairdresser this morning when I ran across an excellent profile of Sonoma's Charlie Palmer in the October Esquire. It is an excellent article, which you should go read right now.

Palmer and his family live in Sonoma, having moved out here from New York several years ago. He is probably the most obscure star chef in the Bay Area -- a major presence nationally, but around San Francisco, not the same household name as Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, Gary Danko or even Michael Mina.

This is partly because most of his restaurants are elsewhere. He has the Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg, which he owns in conjunction with Circe Sher and her family, which includes real estate developer Merritt Sher.

But he also has three restaurants in New York, two in Vegas and one in DC. According to the caption on a photo accompanying the Esquire piece, he also makes his own wine near Sonoma for use in his restaurants.

Then there's the hotel: Palmer has a $300 million hotel project seeking city approvals in Las Vegas. By becoming a high-stakes real estate developer, Esquire says he is going "Where No Chef has Gone Before."

I, for one, am impressed. Chefs only began putting their names on restaurants in the last decade or so, and Palmer has taken the next logical step, which is to extend chef branding to broader hospitality offerings. As Esquire says, "the guy has stones, you gotta give him that."

I know I've been heavy with the Chris Yeo news lately, but I have to mention here that when he was hanging out at our table at Straits the other week he could not stop talking about his lifetime dream was to operate a hotel of his own. Paging Chip Conley, paging Clark Wolf, paging Steve Wynn, Yeo wants a hotel, and while you're at it Tom Duffy wants to open an all-brunch restaurant in Vegas.

More commentary on the hotel from Michael Bauer.

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