Anchor & Hope: Surviving in the Heart of the Financial District

Smack dab in the center of the bustling activity of San Francisco’s Financial District sits Anchor & Hope, the seafood restaurant owned by brothers Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal. Mere blocks from Anchor & Hope are Town Hall, Salt House, and Jersey, three other restaurants also owned by the busy brothers.

The two have stunning culinary backgrounds, working in prestigious hotels and restaurants. Mitch Rosenthal began his culinary career as an apprentice at the ritzy Four Seasons Hotel, learning under his mentor Chef Seppi Renggli. His brother Steven kicked off his career at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. In 1989, Mitch began working for Wolfgang Puck, and a year later, Steven joined him. The brothers spent many years perfecting their craft, and in 1994, Wolfgang Puck elevated them both to be Executive Chefs in his San Francisco restaurant Postrio.

With decades of experience under their belts, the brothers now have successful restaurants of their own. Mitch and Steven both thrive in the kitchen, but Steven also has taken over the nitty-gritty details and financial aspects of restaurant ownership, making this duo unstoppable.

Once a hot spot for the young professional crowd to gather, the Financial District has been deserted in the wake of the pandemic. The location of Anchor & Hope made it a prime spot for business lunches and after-work happy hours. The techie crowd from neighboring businesses keeps the lights on in the restaurants that operate in the Financial District, including all of the restaurants owned by the brothers.

Like so many other service establishments, Anchor & Hope has felt the tremendous impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Relying solely on a lunchtime business crowd has put significant strain on the restaurant. Anchor & Hope even closed sooner than many other restaurants in the area because most of its patrons shifted to working from home.

As a fresh seafood restaurant, the essence of the experience at Anchor & Hope requires a dining out experience, which has been difficult during the take-out only regulations that have been placed on restaurants. “It’s impossible to survive on take-out because of the nature of the restaurant,” Mitch says about the challenge of boxing up his usual fare, which includes fresh fish, raw oysters, and more.

As for the future, Mitch says “Everyday things are changing, it’s unclear to us how to move forward.” While under quarantine, everyone has been working from home, but as things change, it has been uncertain as to when and if companies will bring employees back. “Are people going to come back? People can easily work from home, so that’s the big question,” Mitch wonders.

As unsettling as things are, Mitch and his brother have hope that the community will come together and the restaurants will be supported. “The community is key,” he says about the survival of his restaurants. The neighborhood’s businesses are so important and patrons are essential for survival.

While the community’s help is one piece of the puzzle, restaurant owners are more than willing to do their part to readjust and thrive. Turning to faith and good old-fashioned business expertise, the Rosenthals’ restaurants might pivot in order to adapt. The changes brought on by the pandemic have inspired some new ideas.

Pre-pandemic, Anchor & Hope was a casual sit-down fresh seafood restaurant with 16 beers on tap, and weekday happy hours. After things settle down and return back to normal, Anchor & Hope might take on a new style of service. The focus might be more beer-centric with quick service small plates. “Millennial culture is going out in big groups,” Mitch says about the possible future of his restaurant. He might turn to extended happy hours, cheaper food options, and a big focus on beer.

Whichever direction the restaurant takes, the savvy, success-driven Rosenthal Brothers will continue providing quality service and food in all of their restaurants. 

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