Above: Fable co-owners Ramsey Garcia (left) and Jon Vargas (right).
If your childhood was filled with princesses, magical forests, and fairies, you’ll want to check out Fable. The San Francisco-based restaurant’s beautiful garden and outdoor patio make you feel like you’ve stepped inside a storybook. With its overhanging vines, trees, potted plants, warm breezes, and sunny seating, it’s truly an enchanted forest.
Fable’s story has been around for 7 years. Current co-owners Jon Vargas and Ramsey Garcia met each other through Ramsey’s older brother. Jon handles the finance and bookkeeping while Ramsey organizes the front of house. This partnership is a tag-team duo that’s led to Fable being one of San Francisco’s top brunch spots.
“I’ve been in San Francisco for 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” explains Ramsey. “We’re a tropical garden vibe, where you wouldn’t even know you’re in San Francisco.”
Jon and Ramsey took over ownership of the restaurant right before COVID-19. Although it’s been a stressful experience, both haven’t let the pandemic get them down.
When Fable was temporarily shut down during shelter in place orders, Jon and Ramsey saw the silver lining and upgraded their patio to make it even more charming (and pandemic-friendly). They also adjusted their menu to feature a lunch option, something that wasn’t offered under previous ownership.
In addition to the restaurant’s aesthetic, Fable’s memorable dining experience comes from a vibrant farm-to-table menu. Ramsey believes that Fable helped introduce an up-scale dining experience into the Castro neighborhood.
“Castro was never really known for its cuisine. It was known for its bars and nightlife which led to quick bar food. Since we’re more seasonal, our price point was naturally going to be a lot higher, so we didn’t know if it would work. But our turnout has been amazing.”
Fable’s seasonal menu changes quite a bit depending on what the restaurant is able to source locally from San Fran and surrounding areas.
“Our motto has always been: Let the flavors of California produce be the fragrant taste of the food,” Ramsey adds. “We worked with distributors before that are now non-existent due to COVID-19. We’re finding that we have to go directly to the farms and speak to farmers.”
According to Ramsey, a lot of major distributors (including some farmers markets) have been shut down due to the pandemic. However, this has allowed farmers to really take the lead on who they’re providing their products to.
In Fable’s case, they get what they need, when they need it. This might make sourcing locally more difficult, but Ramsey believes that one of the best aspects of California is that he’s within 100 miles of amazing farms where he can always find fresh produce.
In fact, Ramsey’s found a couple of new farmers to work with since the pandemic started. And in doing so, Fable’s helped support farms during these uncertain times.
“Our farm-to-table aspect isn’t exactly where I want it to be, but I’m working on it right now. We’ve always believed in being local, seasonal, and sustainable,” Ramsey explains about the new change.
Ramsey’s background is in environmental studies, so the direct sourcing aligns with what he’s always wanted to do.The pandemic’s brought many challenges, but at the same time, it’s given Fable an opportunity to re-think their distribution chain and adjust day-to-day operations.
Ramsey and Jon remain optimistic about the future.