Atelier Crenn, already one of San Francisco’s spendiest places to eat, just got spendier. The avant-garde restaurant has increased the price of its longest tasting menu after it raised the salaries of its kitchen staff.
Their renowned Grand Tasting 18-course option is now $220, up from $195. That means dinner for two, after wine pairings, tax and tip, will now cost $962, up from $897.
The Grand Tasting is Atelier Crenn’s only dinner menu on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. That menu was the subject of a 3.5 star review by The Chronicle’s Michael Bauer yesterday.
Obviously, Atlier Crenn seems to be getting in front of the politicized wage issues that have been sending ripples across the restaurant pond with this new pricing posture, but everything is not as it may first appear. For instance, in this instance, it may really be more a transparent move of exercising Business Independence rather than compliance with social whim.
Crenn explained the changes in an email from Paris:
“We have increased the salary for each cook for two reasons. First, my team has worked very hard and kitchen workers are often underpaid, so we wanted to make sure they received a decent salary. Second, the rental market in San Francisco is out of control, so we also wanted also to make sure they had a better living wage.”
The chef also attributed the price increase to a “new menu, new focus, and pristine ingredients,” including live scallops, live king crabs, spiny lobsters, osetra caviar, turbot and Japanese Wagyu.
DIFFERENT PRICES FOR DIFFERENT TIMES
During the weekend, the two Michelin-starred Atelier Crenn is now even more expensive that Corey Lee’s three Michelin-starred Benu, where dinner is $195. But keep in mind that Crenn still offers a shorter menu on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. That option is $140, up from $130.
If you dined at Atelier Crenn in the summer of 2013, the long tasting for two, plus pairings, tax and tip, would’ve cost $850, over $110 less than what it costs now. That was also before Crenn started levying a 2 percent surcharge onto dinner bills “in response to SF employer mandates.” (There was also no Wagyu beef back then). To be fair, Benu, now $195, also charged $180 for its tasting until later that year.
It’s possible that Benu and other restaurants across the dining spectrum will raise prices in the coming year as well to offset the new, higher minimum wages that will go into effect in the coming months. Starting in January, businesses will have to pay their employees no less than $11.01/hr, up from $10.74. That wage will rise to $12.25 in May and will continue to go up until it hits $15 in 2018.
THE BAY AREA’S PRICIEST DINING EXPERIENCES