Maven is seeking an extension of the hours during which it’s licensed to serve alcohol, from the current midnight cutoff to as late as 1:45am on weekends.
In last week’s comments, a couple of neighbors posted concerns about the possible effects of the extension. Fears like “additional traffic and noise” and “drinking & whooping” were raised. In response, many readers expressed support for Maven’s plans, suggesting that a late-night cocktail and dining option would be a great addition to the neighborhood.
We decided to check in with Maven’s owners, Jay Bordeleau and David Kurtz, to get the lowdown on what the longer hours would mean — and to get an update on where things stand with the restaurant.
About Those Longer Hours
Firstly, Jay and David made it clear during our conversation that they’re eager to be good neighbors.
Not Lower Haight residents themselves, they’re mindful of how a new restaurant can set up shop in a neighborhood without actually integrating into it. Not Maven. Their goal is to become an active part of Lower Haight life.
That mindset has already shown in the past few weeks, as they’ve been working on the new space. They’ve left their front door open, so that neighbors can feel free to come introduce themselves, and they’ve left their lights on at night to brighten up what has started to become one of the Lower Haight’s more dire corners in the months since RNM closed.
They’ve also set aside a portion of their annual budget for neighborhood causes and events. Specifically, they’re interested in teaming up with other local merchants for special mash-ups — maybe a brisket-and-bourbon event with Memphis Minnie’s, for example — and they hope to organize block parties and get involved in the Lower Haight Art Walks.
To answer one specific question from readers: they are not planning on offering valet service, unlike RNM. If, however, it becomes clear that parking is an issue for customers, they would consider such a service in the future.
Regarding concerns about the longer operating hours, they are now reaching out to nearby residents, both to explain their plans and to get feedback on how they might mitigate any effects on their neighbors. They also provided us with a letter which they distributed door-to-door yesterday, introducing themselves and explaining their vision for the restaurant. We’ve posted the letter here.
Part of their outreach is to push back on the notion that Maven’s longer hours would lead to noisy and/or uncivilized behavior. It’s just not the kind of vibe they’re planning to establish with the place.
So what are they planning, exactly?
The space itself isn’t quite ready for its close-up yet, but it’s getting there.
Gone are many of the uniquely-RNM design elements, like the chain-mail curtains and window-obscuring shades. The giant tangle of a chandelier will be leaving too — as soon as the guys find a buyer for it on Craigslist.
Instead, Jay and David intend to give the place a more minimal, natural vibe. The first floor will feature several communal tables fashioned out of long slabs of redwood. The bar, also topped with redwood, will be longer, extending all the way to the Haight Street windows. Behind the bar will be a living wall, with plants extending to the ceiling.
The second floor will feature a banquette with small tables in the back, and a bar overlooking the first floor in the front. Jay and David expect to make use of the corner fireplace as well — a feature they discovered only recently while sifting through the wreckage that RNM left behind. Enjoying a drink or meal by the fire is an experience not many restaurants in San Francisco can offer, after all.
Oh — about those drinks and meals.
We got a peek at the menu, which is still being refined (and will continue to be, well after their opening).
The front side of the menu features a cleverly organized selection of dishes and drinks. We don’t have a photo to share with you, so you’re just going to have to use your imagination here.
The menu is a simple grid — three columns by ten rows. The first column features cocktails, the second food, the third beer and wine.
So, each row features a cocktail, a plate, and a beer or wine that Jay and David have grouped together intentionally. You don’t have to order all three, of course — they are merely suggestions of items that go especially well together. Pick a food plate that interests you, then look left for a cocktail suggestion or right for beer or wine. Or don’t. It’s up to you.
Food-wise, the ten rows include: six small plates, two large plates, a cheese plate, and a dessert. On the back of the menu will be additional items (like a burger) that Maven isn’t choosing to include on its pairing menu, but wants to offer nevertheless.
Despite the highly curated menu, Jay and David have no desire to force their suggestions on diners. If someone wants to come in and just order a cocktail at the bar, or enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine, that’s fine with them. The pairings are merely a means of providing a more curated dining experience for those diners who might want some guidance. “The best pairing is eating whatever you want with whatever you want to drink,” they say.
It sounds like that customer-first attitude is going to be a top priority at Maven. They want the atmosphere to be casual and accessible, but with the kind of service you would expect at any of the city’s best restaurants. That means ensuring that the staff (which is still being assembled) will be friendly and knowledgable, and that customers are treated with respect.
Maven’s opening is currently scheduled for some time in the first or second week of December. We’ll keep you updated.
In the meantime, if you’d like to express support (or opposition) for their effort to extend their operating hours, you can write to Carolina Suson at the Department of ABC, 71 Stevenson St, Suite 1500, 94105. Or you can call her at 415-356-6500 to register your opinion.