When the successful Magnolia gastropub and Brewery needed to expand their production to meet the demand for their beer, they chose a historic building in the Dogpatch neighborhood that formerly housed the American Can Company. The surrounding weathered waterfront industrial factories and buildings directed the aesthetic of the space. Working closely with owner Dave McLean, a Bay Area beer icon, along with design firm Nothing:Something:NY and Justin Farrelly Construction, we teamed up to transform the 10,000 sf space into a rustic, distressed 1930’s inspired BBQ restaurant/bar and Brewery.
We envisioned an intimate, warm and authentic gathering place with an sense of history; a soaring custom wall of divided glass separates yet connects it to the brewery itself. The feel and textures continue throughout the project with barrels, rustic wood, heavy rope and string lights in the loading dock area leading to the tanks. The open BBQ kitchen was an integral part of the concept with custom grills and Texas made smokers. The development of the 30 barrel brewery with its heavy duty infrastructure required the installation of a grain handling system, steam boiler, glycol chiller, fermentation and conditioning tanks, and a large scale refrigeration unit.
The location in the Mission district of San Francisco was perfect, but the space itself had been neglected for years and needed a complete infrastructure rebuild. Our vision for Range was inspired by the Streamline Moderne aesthetic of the 1930’s that references ships and trains and emphasizes curving forms, long horizontal lines and porthole windows. A glowing reclaimed train signal light became the front signage. A vintage Blood Bank refrigerator is a focal point behind the bar with deco-era lights, deep set wood framed windows and amber floors which give the feeling of being on a well-crafted boat. In the hallway between the bar and main dining area, a long, narrow window allows a glimpse into the activity of the kitchen as customers walk through or sit at the banquette along the wall.
The original back dining room was a box with low ceilings and no windows. To open the space, but take advantage of its intimacy, chestnut banquettes were fabricated and placed along the perimeter with high horizontal wood-cased windows letting in light above two private horseshoe shaped booths. The ceiling rafters were exposed and finished and custom light fixtures were made from industrial fan parts. One of our favorite design details from this project are the resin filled vintage star-shaped range covers that are embedded in the custom concrete bar.
“The space feels like a perfect blending of Danish design - light wood tables and paneled accent walls - and Tenderloin industrial, with metal stools, exposed support beams and red brick walls.” (Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle)
Working on the Danish "gypsy" brewer’s first US bar was a unique opportunity to reconnect with our time in Copenhagen. The space was a divey nightclub but the original brick and riveted steel girders were still there and revealed a much more authentic history from the early 1900s. Inspired by Scandinavian design, the space was lightened with white oak plank floors, tables, benches and paneled walls. Custom steel elements and exposed brick provide an industrial contrast.
To add texture and help with acoustics, the ceilings were covered with slatted wood and painted white. Refurbished vintage Copenhagen street lights illuminate the bar room with a soft glow. Large scale playful murals, designed by Mikkeller’s beer label artist, cover many of the hand plastered walls. Spacious booths and communal tables recall Northern European beer halls and are able to seat large parties. A unique draft system allows custom blending of nitrogen and carbon dioxide for each of the 42 beers on tap.
The owners of Dopo, a very popular Italian East Bay restaurant, wanted to open a salumi, wine and cocktail bar that would get away from the formalities of a traditional full-service restaurant. The space they found was perfect in terms of location because it was blocks from their other restaurant, but since it was on the bottom floor of a newly constructed condo building, the ceilings were low and the space lacked soul.
The iconic Fiat 500, with it’s compact efficiency and sexy Italian styling, became our touchstone. Authentic Italian elements like a vintage chrome 1960’s Faema E61 espresso maker, imported foosball table, Italian school chairs and antique light fixtures give the space a sense of history and identity. Black walnut parquet floors solidify the space and give it a sense of sophistication and warmth. Custom grey enameled steel frames with inlaid walnut define the entry, counter and bar shelving. House-made salumi is a focal point and is displayed and illuminated in custom red refrigerated cases. The recessed aluminum ceiling fans and round vents in the soffits above the bar continue the automotive-inspired details.
"The space presents a gorgeous frame for its seasonal metamorphosis, constructed out of exposed bricks that were once hauled to San Francisco in the ballast of ships, with articulated iron lights jutting from the walls and an open kitchen as crowded with cooks as it is light." (Jonathon Kauffman, SF Weekly)
"AQ", "As Quoted", is a term used by restaurants to describe seasonal or specialty items. This restaurant extends the concept even further - as the menu changes with the seasons, the interior transforms as well. This flexibility was a unique design challenge. Counters, light fixtures, trim details, and decorative elements are designed to be dismantled, stored and reinstalled the next year. The industrial backdrop of exposed brick, high ceilings, and steel moment frames is softened by the seasonal decor.
Autumn evokes the harvest with warm, rustic woods, copper counters and lighting and accents of leaves turning color. Winter is crisp and cool with white trim and linens, chrome chandeliers, bare birch branches and white Carrera marble counters. Spring is full of fresh green accents, lanterns, cherry blossoms and wood counters. The space turns to summer with wall mounted succulents, hanging green leafed branches and string lights which creates the feeling of a garden party. The ever evolving environment and menu at AQ makes each visit a unique experience and entices people to visit again and again with the cycle of seasons.
“Spork's style is kind of blue collar-hipster cafeteria-meets-modern industrial-prefab chic.” (Tablehopper)
The owners of Spork had come up with the name and concept before finding a location. When they found the building that formerly housed a KFC from the 1960’s, the name was perfect. The idea from the beginning was to serve “slow food” but now they had a “fast food” shell to transform. We quickly turned to the mid-century roadside diner for inspiration. Simple, economical and honest materials that would have been easy to find in the 1950’s were used like cork, vinyl, douglas fir, iron pipe, rubber gasket and pegboard.
Vintage industrial lights and repurposed utilitarian elements from the former KFC add interest to the space. The walk-in refrigeration fans are a kinetic decorative element over the kitchen pass-through and one of the extra hood vents is the armature of the central light fixture. The classic counter with a concrete step up and fixed mushroom stools replace the typical bar. Cork floors and fir framed booths warm up the dining area. A vintage oil-change billboard with its bold graphics was divided into three large pieces and mounted on the walls. Pullman booths run along the all glass facade with filament bulb lamp posts replacing the traditional coat rack; they seem to hover just above the vibrant urban landscape.
Photos: Sean Dagen
“It’s as if a country inn had decided to squat in one of Charles Dickens’s abandoned blacking factories.” (Paul Reidinger, SF Bay Guardian)
Prior to the remodel, this space was a cafeteria with dropped t-bar ceilings and dingy orange tile floors. Uncovering the layers, a raw industrial space with 20 foot ceilings and huge divided steel clerestory windows was revealed. The space’s history as a turn of the century boiler room for the American Can Company became an important design inspiration. We referred to the concept as "working class Victorian".
A vintage French railroad lantern sets the tone in the entryway. Slow moving black ceiling fans break up the space along with custom handblown globe lights set in steel frames. The patina of age on the exposed concrete ceiling and pillars was revealed and simply sealed with the labyrinth of pipes left exposed. A custom blackened steel partition wall with sliding elliptical openings, inspired by an adjustable vent from an antique cast iron coal burning furnace, defines and encloses the main dining area. Strong industrial elements like blackened steel, concrete, slate and zinc were combined with heavy white oak accents and reclaimed, hand-scraped rustic floors to create an atmosphere of warmth and intimacy within a factory shell. Like the Dogpatch neighborhood and its history of shipbuilding and rope-making on the outskirts of San Francisco, Serpentine feels like it is a hide-out and a part of the wild West.