Plans surfaced last week to tear down the 500 Brannan Street building that’s home to the decade-old bistro Marlowe, creating some uncertainty for Marlowe, which may have to become a pop-up or even move.
The very classy South of Market spot Marlowe, once honored by former Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer as having “the best hamburger in the city” in 2015, was already previously forced to change locations because of a construction project. An LA-based developer planned to build a 21-story office complex at Marlowe’s former address at 330 Townsend Street back in 2014, so Marlowe moved one block away to the former Coco500 space at 500 Brannan Street. Now the famed burger restaurant Marlowe may find itself in another similar pickle.
SFGate reports that 500 Brannan Street may be torn down, as applications have been submitted to the SF Planning Department to demolish that one-story building, and replace it with a five-story office building with a restaurant on the ground floor.
But will that restaurant on the ground floor still be Marlowe? After SFGate’s publication of that article, they heard back from Marlowe co-owner James Nicholas, and reported “he is in talks with the building’s landlord to figure out a plan in hopes of keeping the restaurant at its current site long-term.” That outlet adds that “If construction takes longer than anticipated, the restaurant may consider a pop-up, and if no future agreement can be met, it will consider other locations.”
Nicholas insisted to SFGate, “What’s important to know is we are 100% committed to Marlowe having a long-term home in San Francisco for decades to come.”
Marlowe reportedly still has six years left on its current lease at the location.
The design firm Studio Blitz has a rendering of the proposed project on their home page, seen above. Planning Department documents show an application was submitted last Thursday for a five-story, 36,452 square-foot “mixed-use office and retail building” at the address, “with an occupiable roof deck.”
Now this is San Francisco, so the demolition and construction permits will take months, if not years, to be granted. SFGate reports that the application says construction is slated to take a projected 14 months, and again, none of these permits have been granted yet.
It does sound as if Nicholas and the Marlowe team are on good terms with the landlord, telling the SF Standard, "We have a very nice landlord. We wish him well on the new project.” And he diplomatically added, “We're discussing the option of staying, so I think he'd like to have us stay. We'll also evaluate other options because Marlowe is a really important restaurant in San Francisco."
Though he did take a little swipe, in a reference to SF’s current record office vacancy rates. "I'm rooting for San Francisco," Nicholas told the Standard. "But is building more office buildings a good idea?”
Image: Google Street View