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‘Noosh is creating a new model’

A private party on November 30 hosted by designer Eden Wright offered a preview of Noosh.


A soft opening of Noosh — the much-anticipated new restaurant coming to the corner of Fillmore & Pine — is coming soon, and private parties are already underway. Co-owner John Litz, who has been promising high concept but thus far has been tight-lipped on details, is finally opening up about what we can expect from the “Eastern Mediterranean Inspired, California Made” restaurant and bar.

To recap: The corner Victorian storefront has been a hippie plant store, the legendary Pacific Heights Bar and Grill and, most recently, the Thai Stick. Earlier this year Litz and his partners, the acclaimed chefs Sayat and Laura Ozyilmaz, signed a lease, slapped butcher paper on the windows and called in the designers and contractors. For starters, they painted the faded yellow building a classy rich blue.

Litz and his chef-partners say Noosh will approach casual dining differently, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks late into the evening every day offered “at the most affordable prices we can to remain profitable.”

Over a Moscow Mule across the street at Harry’s one wet night last month, Litz sketched out the partnership’s vision for “a restaurant completely new to San Francisco.” To “elevate freshly prepared, quick served, casual food,” Litz is partnering with the Ozyilmazes, a husband and wife team who have cooked in five of the world’s top 50 restaurants, and in recent years helmed the successful pop-up Istanbul Modern SF.

“The food will be playful, colorful and flavorful,” promises Sayat Ozyilmaz. “We have half a dozen different kebabs, all with their own sauces and appropriate garnishes. Our brick oven will be our biggest asset.” Sayat is Armenian from Turkey; Laura is Mexican. “We have flatbreads from Northeastern Turkey that are cooked like a pizza but eat a little bit differently due to their shape. One of the flatbreads has a creamy babaganoosh, crispy lamb shoulder and Moroccan preserved lemon. It’s instantly comforting.”

Lamb and pork flatbreads from the menu at Noosh. Photo by Ralfi Berk.

Noosh will be open 17 hours a day. “This menu is an all day affair, but during breakfast and brunch hours we’ll serve some special items that are solely dedicated to breakfast,” says Sayat. “Our pastry counter in the morning will have feta and black pepper scones, antep pistachio financiers and chocolate babkas — and we also have some surprises up our sleeves for the late night menu.”

The Fillmore frontage is now sporting large windows that open onto a 12-seat heated outdoor sidewalk cafe. As for service, Litz says: “Think Apple store ambassadors with tablets providing a personable guest experience.” Noosh had three open calls in November for servers, runners, kitchen staff and bartenders. A top priority was to hire an event manager to fill the private event spaces. Juliette St. Andrews, who previously worked at the City Club in the financial district, signed on and will oversee private dinners and outside catering. Noosh will also do home and office delivery.

Of course tech is involved. Litz is also a member of the Band of Angels, a Silicon Valley venture capital group that is pitched for funding by some 50 startups a month. Litz says he sees — and vets — some of the “best and brightest ideas and deals in the agriculture and food-tech space.” Along the way, he enlisted longtime pal Michael Hein — a “tech powerhouse,” Litz says — who, coincidentally, lives in the neighborhood and has been unofficially named acting chief technology officer for Forward Food Group, the restaurant’s management company. Together, Litz, who has a degree in computer animation, and Hein did a deep dive into various restaurant tech solutions they feel might be ripe for the new venture.

The upstairs lounge at Noosh.

Litz and the Ozyilmazes have also snagged a superstar mixologist as Noosh’s beverage director. Andrew Meltzer was U.S. bartender of the year in 2016 and president of the San Francisco chapter of the U.S. Bartender’s Guild, among a raft of other kudos.

“We’re elevating hospitality,” Litz says. “Noosh is creating a new model, elevating not just the food, but also service, hospitality and aesthetic.” At Lazy Bear, the nationally acclaimed restaurant in the Mission, Litz is a partner and a founding member of the team that earned two Michelin stars in the first two years. “If all goes as planned,” Litz says, “we think we can create the next generation of casual dining and home delivery restaurants. After all, we have great chefs, a strong location on a busy corner and a chest full of robust tech ideas.”