Above: Dinner at Jasper’s…need we say more?
With San Francisco flair and preserved Spanish Colonial design, Hotel Spero is best described by the ways it fuses the two together: hand-carved wooden beams that race across high ceilings, the building’s original marble floor, the sparks of color, and eye-catching art. And attached to the hotel: Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen, a gastropub that continues the homage to the city’s identity through food.
Situated in Union Square, Jasper’s opened in 2014, in what was then the Serrano Hotel — when it transitioned to Hotel Spero in 2018, both the hotel and restaurant underwent an $18 million renovation. But though Jasper’s is in an area frequented by travelers and visitors, it aims to do something daring. It spotlights the city’s food, drink and culture for tourists, and has become a neighborhood watering hotel for locals: it is a place that celebrates the Bay Area for those who are newly arrived and those who know it well.
“Go into Jasper’s on any given day and there’s a really diverse group of locals, workers who work in the area, international travelers, and domestic travelers,” says Managing Director of Access Hotels and Resorts Benjamin Malmquist.
At first glance, Jasper’s draw might be the rotating 18 local craft beers, an opportunity to get to know the Bay Area through its brews, even if people don’t have time to visit the individual microbreweries. Jasper’s also hosts a monthly tap takeover where representatives from the local breweries drop by, pour drinks, and educate Jasper’s guests about the draft, from idea to creation.
“It’s a really nice opportunity for customers to take it that next step further, to not just enjoy the beer, but to talk to the business owner or the brew master and get to understand their vision,” Malmquist explains, saying that the idea to feature the craft brews was to enable people “to explore San Francisco and the Bay Area by trying different beers.”
The food is equally committed to spotlighting the area’s bounty. Chef Hugo Escobar sources nearly all the produce and protein locally and cooks in a way to honor the people who have farmed what appears on Jasper’s tables.
“The focus is local, seasonal, and letting the ingredients speak for themselves,” says Malmquist. “It’s a place where people come and say, ‘Hey, this is such a great meal. They clearly put a lot of care into that dish.’”
Or perhaps part of Jasper’s secret is that your burger can come with a side of sports — if that’s your thing. The bi-level gastropub offers an area with 12 flat screen TVs, playing Warriors, Giants, Sharks, or other local games, while the back section is a more typical restaurant, with comfortable booths and larger tables for big groups, ideal for families or those looking for a place to have a conversation. The hotel’s proximity also gives Jasper’s access to several event spaces, allowing it to cater events from corporate meetings to cocktail receptions.
Of course, that was before COVID-19.
While facing the pandemic’s difficulties and uncertainties, Jasper’s is committed to supporting the community, and has refined the menu with an eye towards current restrictions. The offerings are meant to hold up well for takeout and delivery, and price points have been revisited, making sure costs are acceptable to customers.
In addition to its brunch offerings, the restaurant has launched an all-day breakfast.
“Breakfast is one of those meals that makes everybody happy,” Malmquist says. “Breakfast for dinner puts a smile on your face. That’s what we need during COVID times. We’re just trying to make as many people happy as we can.”
Though the 18 draft beers aren’t currently available due to COVID-19, customers can still select from three to five rotating canned beers.
Should the current social distancing guidelines stay in place for a while, Jasper’s is planning to revisit its menu for fall and winter with seasonal produce in mind, showcasing local flavor, even if dishes are placed in to-go containers instead of on plates.
“We’re excited to get back to normal,” says Malmquist. “And during these tricky times, it’s really important for us to do as much as we can for the community.”
Though experiencing the Bay Area may temporarily look different, Jasper’s is committed to remaining a destination that captures what that experience is: not just food that is fresh and unique, but the people and artisans that are passionate about exploring the food, expressing the city through it, and creating a place where everyone can come together to share it.
All photos taken by Tambourine, Jasper’s digital marketing agency.