The Absinthe Group’s New Arbor Sprouts in San Francisco

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Above: Arbor’s chicken sandwich; photo by Chloe Pressman

Arbor, the newest branch of San Francisco’s long-standing The Absinthe Group, opened this July to bring healthy, satisfying, and comforting food to the area. After 22 years of a five-restaurant empire, not even a pandemic can stop this crew from expansion. 

Since 1998, proprietor Bill Russell-Shapiro’s managed The Absinthe Group. Today, Russell-Shapiro’s joined by Vice President Eric Vreede, Executive Chef Ryan Mcllwraith, Wine Director Phillip Acquafresca, and Director of Bars and Development, Jonny Raglin. 

Together, the team’s conquered California by offering a wide variety of cuisines and experiences at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, Arlequin Wine Merchant in Hayes Valley, Bellota in SoMa, Comstock Saloon in North Beach, and now, Arbor—the former Arlequin Cafe—in San Francisco.

Despite the Odds

It’s hard to imagine juggling several restaurants on a good day—let alone in a pandemic—but Arbor proves The Absinthe Group’s fervor. Though Arbor intended to open in April, the staff’s prioritization of health and safety delayed their process. “This has obviously been a trying time for individuals and businesses alike, and we had to make some changes in order to accommodate social distancing and adjusted staffing,” the team communicates.

As a result, Comstock Saloon and Bellota have temporarily closed, while Arbor sprouts alongside Arlequin Wine Merchant. If anything, The Absinthe Group’s strategically focusing its efforts right now.

Having well-established restaurants tied to The Absinthe Group name bodes well as marketing for this new Arbor adventure. Unlike the French and Mediterranean inspired cuisine at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar, the Spanish food and drinks at Bellota, and the saloon inspired plates at Comstock, Arbor offers American classics with refreshing twists.

Arbor’s Roots

Arbor’s “healthful and heartwarming” American cuisine is the result of The Absinthe Group’s evolution in Cali’s food scene. Amidst some adjustments, Arbor became the place to launch a menu its crew would “love to cook, serve, and eat!” Plus, Arbor’s staff professes a love for cheeseburgers that clearly translates. As a classic American restaurant, how can cheeseburgers not inspire?

Coupled with their personal food preferences, the team reflects that Arbor’s here to “accommodate our local community…From locally-sourced grass-fed beef, fresh-baked brioche buns to vegan and vegetarian options…Arbor is able to offer something for just about everyone.” Their vegan burger’s all the rage as positive feedback fuels its popularity.

Arbor’s emphasis on local and seasonal food “makes you feel at home,” staff reflects. They’ve crafted a strong mission to “bring food to your table that we would proudly serve at our own…” As a result, you can expect that every wholesome plate shows off the kitchen staff’s most desired tastes. 

Between their current eight employees covering Arbor and Arlequin Wine Merchant, it’s a dynamic wine-and-dine duo. Despite their continued navigation of the pandemic, the Arbor team claims, “We’re here to safely serve you healthy, delicious, and comforting food,” with an added encouragement to “join us in our new Parklet street seating or in our garden oasis sometime!”

If that’s not an enticing ambiance for comfortable dining, what is? The name Arbor suggests being held by nature as you enjoy it’s rooted, grounding, and hearty food offerings. Everyone could use a garden oasis right now. Support Arbor to see how their new growth inspires!

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