Head Chef and Chief Economist


Daniel Patterson is the chef and co-owner of Coi, a restaurant that San Franscisco foodies love to love. He's opening a new place in Oakland. In an otherwise non-political interview about his new joint, he hashes out what it's like to run a restaurant in the ultra-regulated city by the bay and explains how S.F. city supervisors are ruining the upscale neighborhood restaurant.

SFoodie: Would you ever open a restaurant like Coi in Oakland?
Patterson: It would be hard to open a restaurant like Coi in San Francisco today. When Coi's gone I would be really surprised to see another one like it.

Because the economics of fine dining don't make sense anymore?
I'm sure Thomas Keller could always make it work here. I have 10 people in the kitchen, about a one-to-two ratio of staff to diners. San Francisco has become a very difficult place to have any restaurant, because of the policies that the Board of Supervisors put in place. They didn't anticipate what would happen with things like the minimum wage increases, with no tip credit. What happens when the minimum wage is $12? Or $15? Product costs keep rising, especially for things like pastured meats and organic vegetables. Rents are still pretty steep. The restaurant model that we all knew no longer exists—the Supervisors took it and crumpled it into a little ball.

For us [at Coi], we're a little bit more protected. I can't complain—we've done fine all through the downturn. I've been so grateful and a little bit surprised at how strong the local support has been. But I'm more concerned about neighborhood places, which are the heart and soul of our dining scene. What happens when they all have to charge $30 for a chicken dish? Can they all afford to keep using the best ingredients? Or to have enough staff? There's going to have to be a fundamental rethinking of how restaurants in San Francisco are run. In the meantime, we're operating in a no-man's-land, and I don't see a clear path out of it.

Via Jason Gollan.