The concept for this 75-seat restaurant is casual, tranquil, honest, natural. Raising the bar for quick service food, Little Gem makes responsibly sourced and lovingly prepared cuisine accessible to the casual patron—while inherently omitting gluten, dairy and sugar. After a personal epiphany with the profound benefits of these dietary choices, partner Eric Lilavois, former COO with Thomas Keller Group, recruited former Keller chef Dave Cruz and Wall Street veteran John DeFazio to join him.
Little Gem occupies the ground floor corner space in the newly constructed 400 Grove Street building, designed by Fougeron Architecture. To amplify the client’s concept, we chose materials that introduce a sense of natural warmth within the shell of concrete floors, walls, and ceiling. A green, hand-textured plaster wall offers a targeted burst of visual excitement.
Maintaining a sense of transparency in food preparation was also critical to expressing the concept, dictating full visibility into the kitchen. Interior planters are placed in areas where the ample daylight streams through the courtyard and street window facades. Exterior, south-facing seating takes advantage of the Hayes Valley sunshine.