Celebrity chef plans venture in revitalized area

A celebrity chef and a wine connoisseur plan to open complementary venues late this year in adjacent Cow Hollow storefronts that were left vacant during the recession. The empty space is in a commercial strip that contains numerous bars but few restaurants.

Dominique Crenn, who recently won an “Iron Chef America” episode, is preparing to open Atelier Crenn, a French-themed restaurant, in a Fillmore Street storefront formerly occupied by a PlumpJack-owned cafe.

“I want to create a community place,” Crenn said. “This is not a place where you can go and get drunk and party.”

The storefront, which is cluttered with construction materials, is attached to a small outdoor space that will be used for dining and growing flowers and herbs for the kitchen.

“The design is going to be a little bit different than the San Francisco design; it will be very reminiscent of the French countryside,” said Crenn, who was born in France.

She founded Luce restaurant at the InterContinental San Francisco, was a contestant on last year’s “The Next Iron Chef” on the Food Network, and a documentary is being filmed as she works to open her new restaurant by December.

Next door, a lounge-themed wine bar is planned to open around the same time.

Proprietor Kamran Shirazi said the crowd that frequents the corridor is maturing into one that appreciates fine wine and conversation, and shuns noisy bars.

“Cow Hollow has changed over the past two years,” Shirazi said. “A lot of more of a 30ish demographic has moved in.”

Shirazi owns a similar bar, Wine Jar, further south on Fillmore Street in the Pacific Heights neighborhood.

Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, whose district includes Cow Hollow, said the area is starting to recover from the recession, with legislation and other factors leading to new restaurant openings.

“It’s very exciting,” Alioto-Pier said. “We’ve seen a lot of really spectacular restaurants open.”

jupton@sfexaminer.com

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