After years of working at multiple restaurants in San Francisco such as Quince, Michael Mina and Coi, Sarah and Evan Rich are opening their first place together at the end of this month.
Rich Table, a combination of their last name and the idea that you’re pulling up a chair and eating at their table, is located at 199 Gough (in the same location Paul K inhabited for several years) and is a goal they’ve been working towards for 4.5 years.
“Ever since we moved here, we’ve been looking for a place” said Evan. “We walked by here a few years ago and thought ‘this is a great space.’”
Sarah added, “We love it because it’s just off the beaten path of Hayes Valley and so much has opened up recently or is opening up in the next few months.”
The concept of Rich Table is that you get quality food and service without fancy waiters or a stuffy atmosphere.
Evan said, “We want to strip away all the bells and whistles and let our great service and food speak for itself.”
Getting to the point where they’re on the fringe of opening their restaurant took longer than they expected.
As Evan explained to us, “We moved to San Francisco with the intention of opening up a place together but we wanted to know the who’s and what’s of the city first. I took a job at Quince for a year and she was at Michael Mina. Then one night I ate at Coi with friends and let them know I was free for a little bit and could help out until I open my own space. A little bit turned into three years.”
“We came out here gung ho and ready to do it,” Sarah said. “It took 4.5 years… which is much later than we originally wanted but we learned a lot about how to manage and run a restaurant.”
The team is grateful for the relationships they’ve built with farmers and ranchers, one aspect that will play a huge role in the unique approach to their menu.
Rather than having a standard menu that changes a few times a year, Rich Table will offer a menu that rarely looks the same one day to the next.
Using their backgrounds in Japanese, Italian and French cuisine, prepare to be surprised by the offerings each time you visit their restaurant. They want to let the produce and food they get from their merchants direct the course of their offerings.
“The menu will probably change daily or weekly,” Evan said. “If a farmer sets aside something for us, we’re going to figure out a way to use it.”
This theory will be applied to their cocktails too.
“We’re not going to have a million kinds of cocktails or mixologists” Sarah explained. “We’ll go to the market and make cocktails based on things we find or have in mind. We want the drinks to reflect the same style of the food, but not super complex.”
Along with spirits, Rich Table will have a diverse wine program organized by Maz Naba. Recently serving as the wine director at Coi and assistant general manager at RN74, Maz explained what the team has in mind when it comes to drinks of the grape persuasion.
“We have a simple approach to bottles” Maz started. “There will be a three-tier system of $45, $55 and $65 choices. Then we’ll have probably 9 whites and 9 reds by the glass or carafe. We’re going with an old world slant where 85% of the work is done in the vineyard and 15% is done with the processing. It’s more about the fruit and where it’s from… not a heavy hand from the winemaker.”
Maz also mentioned there will be three wines on tap.
(For those of you who immediately thought Franzia when you heard “wine on tap,” we have a feeling it will be a little tastier than what you found in your fridge in college)
And what about that name. Rich Table? What does it even mean?
“When we put together our business plan” Evan started, “we just wrote down Rich Table and it ended up sticking. The idea is that you’re here and eating at our table.”
“The restaurant is designed so it feels like you’re in our kitchen and eating with us” Sarah added.
If you’re curious what some of the finest chefs and wine directors in town crave for comfort food, we learned that Sarah loves the carnitas tacos from La Taqueria, Maz likes neck or tongue tacos from the truck parked outside of Best Buy, and Evan loves greasy Chinese food or the rotisserie chicken from Limon.
And when asked what Sarah, Evan and Maz are most excited about, it’s being able to create their own food and see people enjoy it. And part of that has to do with it being located in Hayes Valley.
Evan said, “Many restaurants in Hayes Valley get the 6pm theater rush, and we want this to become a restaurant for the neighborhood. We want people to come here and relax.”
Maz added, “This is probably one of the friendliest neighborhoods in San Francisco. People are excited we’re new to town. The owner of O-Toro just stopped by and asked if we needed anything.”
“Even though we live in the Mission” Evan said, “Hayes Valley almost has this NYC type of feel to it… and it’s why we always wanted to open up our first place here.”
Rich Table has its final inspections this week. After they finish their last minute preparations, they plan on opening up soon as possible. They’ve begun taking reservations for July 26, but they could have a soft opening sooner.
Make sure to walk by 199 Gough in the next week. If there’s a light on and people inside, there’s a table with your name on it.
Rich Table will begin with the following hours: M, W, Th & Sun – 5:30-10pm / Fri & Sat – 5-11pm)