*Images provided by Dostart Development Company

One of the Bay Area’s most sought-after hospitality groups is not ready to rest after opening three restaurants in one building in San Francisco two weeks ago, progressing on another upcoming in Santana Row, and keeping Michelin-starred spots like Selby’s, The Village Pub and Spruce fresh up and down the peninsula.

Bacchus Management Group is taking on a project more challenging — and in the words of its president Tim Stannard, “cooler for sure” — than the usual expansion play. It involves turning a “jigsaw puzzle” of marble slabs, antique brass and bronze salvaged from a 1940s-era post office space into an 8,000-square-foot restaurant that will anchor a new six-story office project, and perhaps help shape the future of downtown Burlingame.

“I’m spending all afternoon tomorrow pulling through the rubble,” Stannard said, and added without sounding exhausted, “I’m super enthusiastic.”

Stannard initially said no when approached by the joint venture of Dostart Development Co. and Sares Regis Group to take over the historic former Burlingame Post Office space for redevelopment into the premier restaurant at the $125 million office development 220 Park Road. But then Chris Homs of Lockehouse Retail Group Inc. — representing the JV for retail leasing along with Kurt Grundman and Brendan Walsh — convinced Stannard to do him the favor of one little tour through the space.

“I walked in and I got chills,” Stannard said. He took in soaring ceilings, terrazzo floors poured nearly a hundred years ago, and “slabs and slabs and slabs” of marble — local marble, if that was possible — harvested from the Sierra Nevadas even earlier. He ignored the crazily arranged debris and what it symbolized about the challenge of a renovation like this.

He turned around to frequent collaborator on interior design Stephen Brady and told him, “I don’t care what it costs, I’m doing this.”

“It’s not something you should say when your future landlord (Mollie Ricker, partner at Dostart) is standing 10 feet away,” he added. “But Chris was right. I would have kicked myself if I didn’t do this project.”

Bacchus has signed a ten-year lease. The name and concept are still anyone’s guess, but definitely full-service, white tablecloth, “gorgeous” and “dramatic.”

For the rest of the way, his team is gathering intel on extensive “listening tours” around Hillsborough and Burlingame to find out what the people who live and work there really need. It’s been his process with every restaurant, even the ones that dreamed up as the vehicle for an experimental truffle dish, but which ended up being the Bay Area’s Michelin-starred destination for a cheeseburger.

The building, designed by KSH Architects, features three additional ground-floor retail spaces (totaling about 9,000 square feet) and five floors of office and it is expected to be ready for move-in by spring 2024. It’s off to a good start drawing interest from those tenants after scoring this first name.

The restaurant hopes to time its debut with the completion of Town Square, a plaza designed and under development from the City of Burlingame and aimed at giving downtown a much-needed central gathering spot, likened to a “living room” for the growing city. That effort, expected to break ground in spring 2024, is receiving contributions from the developer joint venture ($2 million) and state funds ($1 million), while the JV is also donating another $3.5 million towards local affordable housing, per the terms of its entitlement.

“Nothing complements a great open space better than a great restaurant,” said Burlingame Mayor Michael Brownrigg in a statement. “Together we are building out a destination downtown.”

By Alex Barreira – Staff Reporter, San Francisco Business Times

Nov 3, 2023 Updated Nov 3, 2023 1:20 am PDT