Early To Rise, a cult favorite San Francisco pop-up that pioneered “brunch-in-a-bag” during the pandemic, is finally opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The new restaurant will open a storefront in San Francisco's NoPa neighborhood after six years of running pop-ups around the city.
San Francisco brunch fans who know chef Andrew McCormack’s work will be delighted at the news Early To Rise plans to open early next spring in Automat’s former space at 1801 McAllister St. Automat closed on Aug. 27.
Early To Rise’s famed family-style dining won’t return at the new spot, but McCormack plans to bring hand-rolled bagels, high-quality pork bellies and custom-smoked salmon, among other dishes, served a la carte to patrons. Brunch-in-a-bag will also be available for pickup and feeds between one and four customers—it can be enjoyed at home or in the park, picnic-style.
“We've got a custom smoker being built up in Oregon that's going to be able to process 16 pork bellies a week if we need it,” said McCormack, who had to get certified through the state agricultural department to smoke meats. “We're going to be one of the only people in the city that has that designation.”
The journey to the new space took an active 18 months of searching for locations, many of which he found would have been too expensive to upgrade.
“It would be at least one million dollars in hard construction costs,” McCormack said. “It's crazy how consistently that number came up, but it's just that all of these buildings have the same issues.”
After working in the food industry for several years, McCormack chose a pop-up approach after a slow disenchantment with not being able to "cook for the community you think of when you cook," he said. "I really wanted to be working at a level that was more accessible to people."
That led him to family-style pop-ups, where friends would join him in cooking for groups of up to 50 people at a time, until the pandemic’s arrival forced him to lean into new needs: a leaner approach to preparing to-go items, like a “brunch-in-a-bag” that drew strong demand from customers.
That said, after six years of using many techniques to get foods just right for others, he is looking forward to using a bread oven that remains at the new location.
“It gets exceptionally good when you can control steam and have a stove for bagels to sit directly on,” he said.
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