After a three-year pandemic-induced hiatus, beloved German-style "gasthaus" Leopold's is back open for business—or in the words of the restaurant, "The Boots are Back!"
The beloved Polk Street gastropub, known for serving beer in a glass boot, reopens Thursday and will raise a glass to tradition, serving up many of the same classic Austrian dishes that patrons have enjoyed since the restaurant opened in 2011.
Aside from a new coat of paint, some minor updates to the kitchen and the refinishing of the restaurant's dark wood decor, much of the restaurant's interior and menu remains the same, says new owner Michael Lamina, who was Leopold's inaugural chef from 2011 to 2013 and bought the restaurant last winter from its original owner, Albert Rainer.
Rainer initially opened the restaurant with his brother Klaus in 2011, and they named the establishment for their Austrian grandfather Leopold, who was a wine merchant, burgermeister and avid hunter. The restaurant developed a reputation not only for jovial rowdiness but also its family-friendly atmosphere. Waitresses originally wore traditional dirndls, and beer in glass boots was served up with a smile.
After Leopold's closed its doors in 2020 due to the pandemic, Rainer attempted to revive it, but waves of Covid variants and seismic retrofitting requirements made it a struggle to reopen. Lamina wanted to keep the neighborhood establishment alive and so jumped at the chance to take over the restaurant when offered the opportunity.
"I enjoyed my time here when I was here," Lamina told The Standard. "And I love the food."
The restaurant will carry on the culinary traditions of its namesake's fatherland, serving up schnitzels, strudels and bratwurst, as well as plenty of beer and a selection of German, Austrian and Eastern European wines. Even though the restaurant's doors have been closed for a long time, Lamina is optimistic that the neighborhood will reembrace the restaurant.
"It feels good. I know the community has been begging for it to come back, and they've been very vocal about it," Lamina said. "So we're excited to open today."
Leopold's will be open for dinner service Wednesdays through Sundays, starting Thursday.
📍2400 Polk St., SF
🕔 5:30-10 p.m. on Sundays, Wednesdays & Thursdays | 5:30-11 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Christina Campodonico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org