Rubicon Shuttered

Grand Award winning restaurant closes—owner says San Francisco business costs were too high
Aug 12, 2008

Rubicon, a seminal restaurant on the modern San Francisco scene, closed its doors Aug. 9 after a 14-year run that launched some high-profile careers for both chefs and sommeliers. A Wine Spectator Grand Award winner since 1998, the financial district restaurant was the brainchild of restaurateur Drew Nieporent and his founding partners, movie director and vintner Francis Ford Coppola and actor Robert De Niro.

Nieporent, who has six restaurants in New York, blamed the high costs of doing business in San Francisco for the restaurant's demise. "The rent was $60,000 more than any of our places in New York," said Nieporent. "The payroll in San Francisco was $100,000 more than New York. And San Francisco's health insurance requirements were killing us. The restaurant was doing well, but we just couldn't make money."

The exposed-brick dining room became a destination as a succession of chefs made their names there. Traci Des Jardins, who opened the restaurant, now has Jardinière across town. Rubicon's last chef, Stuart Brioza, may have been the best since her. Others who toiled in the kitchen over the years include Richard Reddington (now of Redd in Yountville), Jeremy Fox (now of Ubuntu in Napa), and Robbie Lewis (now of Bacar in San Francisco), not to mention former pastry chef Elizabeth Falkner, who now has two San Francisco restaurants, Citizen Cake and Orson.

Sommelier Larry Stone, a partner in the restaurant, created the wine list and roamed the floor for years before leaving in 2005 to manage Coppola's Rubicon Estate in Napa Valley. Along the way, some of the sommeliers who worked with him there were Rajat Parr, wine director of the Michael Mina Group and the Grand Award winner Michael Mina in San Francisco, Alan Murray of Masa's and Kyle Boatright, Rubicon's most recent sommelier.

Rubicon's 25,000-bottle wine cellar could go to a potential buyer of the restaurant, said Nieporent, who added that if that didn't happen he had other possibilities in mind. "It will not be auctioned off," he said. When award-winning New York restaurant Montrachet closed last year, Nieporent auctioned off the cellar because of partnership differences.

San Francisco Dining Out Restaurant Awards News

You Might Also Like

Moderate Wine Consumption and Type 2 Diabetes

Moderate Wine Consumption and Type 2 Diabetes

A meta analysis of research found wine may help diabetes sufferers by lowering blood …

Oct 15, 2019
Chanel Group Expands Its Wine Ambitions to Provence

Chanel Group Expands Its Wine Ambitions to Provence

The luxury company, which owns wineries in Bordeaux and Napa, buys Domaine de I'lle in …

Oct 14, 2019
Exclusive: Jackson Family Wines Buys Balo Vineyards in Anderson Valley

Exclusive: Jackson Family Wines Buys Balo Vineyards in Anderson Valley

The 14-acre property in California's Mendocino County is known for its Pinot Noir and …

Oct 14, 2019
California Wineries Take Mid-Harvest Power Outages in Stride

California Wineries Take Mid-Harvest Power Outages in Stride

The local utility has been cutting power to prevent wildfires, leaving millions in the …

Oct 11, 2019
Chef José Andrés' Charity Makes a Difference with 1 Million Meals

Chef José Andrés' Charity Makes a Difference with 1 Million Meals

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, the renowned chef and his World Central Kitchen reach a …

Oct 10, 2019
Trabocchis Open Third Sfoglina in D.C. Area

Trabocchis Open Third Sfoglina in D.C. Area

Plus, there's a new executive chef at Spiaggia, and a Cuban restaurant in Boston opens with …

Oct 10, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search