At Leo’s Oyster bar in San Francisco, the first thing you notice is the custom wallpaper. Although it is slightly mad and prissy, this wall treatment is definitely not from your grandma’s solarium. These oversize wild plants hint toward retro Hawaiian pin-up beauties in barely-there flower-garland bikinis.
Leo’s is located in the city’s Financial District, within two doors from Wayfare Tavern owned by Food Network star chef Tyler Florence, a good friend of Leo’s owners.
Midcentury retro glamour are, indeed, the key words here according to the designers, Ken Fulk and Jon de la Cruz. The two have created several environments for the Big Night Restaurant Group, a powerhouse restaurateur team behind not just Leo’s Oyster Bar but other San Francisco food lover favourites including The Cavalier, Marlowe and Park Tavern.
Anna Weinberg and husband James Nicholas are the owners and managing partners of Leo’s, with Jennifer Puccio the executive chef and Emily Lucetti the pastry chef.
In the design, there is a nice friction between the slightly naughty feminine and the openly masculine features that the designers have described as “1950s Beverly Hills meets Manhattan club.”
Reassuringly, owner James Nicholas has said that although the Big Night Group’s restaurant portfolio is expanding, they do not want to grow big. “The restaurant business is service-driven and all about quality of experience and food.” He has been quoted as saying. “Our goal is to keep that experience polished to a high gleam.” This we can fully endorse. Tuija Seipell