Dining on Design

His excitement is understandable. In a fishing village from the 1930s, Kuleto revamped 12 ocean-themed cottages that feature private decks, fireplaces, and all the technological amenities one would expect from a luxury property in the year 2009. Just an hour outside of San Francisco via the Golden Gate, Nick’s Cove provides an ideal escape for anyone looking to retreat from the city life. The entire resort embraces its waterfront perch, with aquatic activities for guests such as kayaking, historical boat tours, and crab and fly-fishing. Landlubbers can get in on the action, too, with moonlight wine tastings, culinary tours, and spa treatments.

He is also implementing a boat charter service at Nick’s Cove in response to visitor demand. “Everyone wanted to get out on the Bay, but there was no way to do so,” he states. “I decided to get a bunch of old wooden Grand Banks boats.” He hopes to launch the charter service, which he dubbed Boat Goombahs (“Boat Buddies”), this spring. He tried to get service out onto the water this past summer, but a total of 23 government agencies swept in, each requiring different operational permits and documentation. Once the extensive heap of paperwork is in order, guests will be able to take further advantage of the waterfront locale.

Nick’s Cove is not the only bayfront property of Kuleto’s that required special approval from local interest groups. EPIC Roasthouse and Waterbar, his two new waterfront restaurants on the border of the South of Market and financial districts, were the first new buildings built on the water in San Francisco in more than 100 years. Thus, the heavily regulated establishments required a persistence and dedication to excellence from Kuleto. “It was worth it,” he states, “so people have to enjoy it when they realize the hard work that went with it.” Diners are certainly taking advantage of the prestigious perches, flocking to the outdoor tables to enjoy the delectable cuisine and soak in the prestigious views.

What’s more, the interiors can compete with the fantastic views. Kuleto had been mulling over the concepts for both EPIC Roasthouse and Waterbar for years and actively looking for a space that would lend themselves to the design when these fell into his lap. When the City of San Francisco decided to build two new buildings on the water, they came directly to Kuleto to head up one of the two restaurant spaces. Based on the prestige of his other establishments, it was a given that he would raise the bar on waterfront dining in the Bay Area. “I realized they were both great locations,” he says, “but I didn’t want to take just one….I didn’t want a Chili’s or something going in next door, so we negotiated for the two spots.”