But Bar Agricole turned out very differently than it might have. Owner Thad Vogel, a Yale grad and longtime barman and restauranteur, had observed the trend among San Francisco restaurants of spotlighting local, artisan ingredients. He wanted to take it a step further and have the physical setting reflect the same values. He explained with perverse pride that he signed the lease on the location in August 2008 — just before the economy tanked. Working with radically diminished financing, Vogel decided to offer the architects and craftsmen equity instead of cash money to get the results he wanted. What he got in exchange was the good work that comes with pride of ownership.
The location, which has earned LEED gold certification and won several architectural awards, was re-created by Aidlin Darling Design. It features exposed original concrete, augmented by new but lived-in concrete flooring, banquettes and a second bar by Mark Rogero of Oakland’s Concreteworks, along with textile-evoking glass sculptures by Nikolas Weinstein that decorate the skylights. The kitchen was designed in consultation with chef Brandon Jew.