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What’s New in San Francisco | November/December 2014

“What’s New in San Francisco” is a monthly roundup of news and updates presented by the San Francisco Travel Association.

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HOLIDAY SEASON IN SAN FRANCISCO

In San Francisco, the holiday season could easily be called “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the song goes.  The city’s neighborhoods are aglow with decorations and abuzz with activities and events – some traditional and some far from it. For a roundup of holiday events and activities, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel/article/holiday-season-san-francisco-most-wonderful-time

The holidays are an especially inviting time for visitors to San Francisco because the hotels offer the best rates of the year and there are plenty of rooms available.  Hotel deals can be found on the official website of the San Francisco Travel Association at www.sanfrancisco.travel/holidays.   

RESTAURANTS

Michelin Awards Two San Francisco Restaurants with Three Stars

San Francisco’s reputation for great dining was again confirmed in October as Michelin awarded two of its restaurants with its highest rating in its 2015 eating guide. Benu and Saison in the city's SoMa district joined the French Laundry In Yountville and the Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa in the top three-star category for "exceptional cuisine."  

Michelin rates restaurants in 24 countries and its stars are an internationally recognized sign of quality dining. There are just over 100 restaurants worldwide with the three-star distinction. Michelin, which has been reviewing restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area for eight years, handed stars to a record 40 restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area after its reviewers sampled 46 types of cuisines at 474 eateries. Michelin placed six San Francisco restaurants in its two-star "excellent cuisine" category with Acquerello joining the roster in its latest guide. The other two-star restaurants included Atelier Crenn, Baume, Coi, Manresa and Quince.  The one-star restaurants in the city of San Francisco alone are Ame, Aziza, Boulevard, Campton Place, Gary Danko, Keiko à Nob Hill, Kusakabe, La Folie, Luce, Maruya, Michael Mina, Sons & Daughters, SPQR, Spruce and State Bird Provisions.  For more information, visit http://www.michelintravel.com/selections/2015-san-francisco-michelin-selections/

The Terrace Opens at the California Academy of Sciences 

On Oct. 17, 2014, the California Academy of Sciences opened The Terrace, its latest sustainability-driven dining option and the first major structural addition since the museum’s reopening in 2008. Located in the Academy’s West Garden, this newly constructed café features a carefully crafted menu to continue to uphold the museum’s reputation of providing visitors with high-quality dining experiences inside the greenest museum on the planet. 

The Terrace features a menu of affordably priced, small, shareable plates that highlight California’s diverse culinary influences. Guests will have food delivered to their tables after placing their order at a walk-up counter. All menu items use locally sourced and sustainably harvested ingredients to reflect the Academy’s commitment to sustainability.  The Terrace upholds the Academy’s Double LEED-Platinum rating by utilizing energy-efficient appliances within a space maximized for sustainability. Construction on The Terrace was led by Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects, with guidance from the world-renowned Renzo Piano Building Workshop, who designed the Academy’s groundbreaking facility. The new 1,450-square-foot structure features recycled concrete and fencing from a bird aviary that formerly occupied the space. Other materials from the aviary enclosure were donated to CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point. 

Adjacent to The Terrace, the Academy’s landscape design team has planted a native California plant garden, echoing the green design of the museum’s iconic 2.5-acre Living Roof. The Terrace will be open during regular museum hours, as well as during the Academy’s popular 21+ NightLife events on Thursday nights from 6 – 10 p.m. For information, visit http://www.calacademy.org. Media contacts: Kelly Mendez, 415-379-5133, kmendez@calacademy.org or Haley Bowling, 415.379.5123, hbowling@calacademy.org

Restaurant at San Francisco War Memorial Opera House Renovated by California-Based Designer Heather Ashton 

Notable designer Heather Ashton (www.heatherashtondesign.com) recently headed the renovation of the Restaurant at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House as well as a new lounge space for cocktails at The Dress Circle, with a design that lures the younger set. Continuing her collaboration with The Patina Group, the recent debut coincides with the much anticipated fall launch of Opera season the cultural landmark.  Ashton has worked with some of most iconic innovators including Andre Balazs (Standard Hotel), Mary McDonald and Avi Brosh (Palihouse Holloway). Beyond growing her own design brand, she spent many years as Creative Director for H.D. Buttercup overseeing their Los Angeles and San Francisco stores and sourcing unique products from all corners of the world. 

Under the direction of Joachim Splichal and The Patina Restaurant Group, Ashton created a fresh look harkening back to the glamorous Beaux-Arts period reviving the feeling of elegance and drama that harkens a classic Fitzgerald-inspired image of “A Night at the Opera.”  While using the classic dramatic red hues associated with opera and ballet venues, Ashton has mixed the classic with the contemporary.  For information, visit http://sfopera.com/Home.aspx. Media contact:  Beth Brett, beth@blinkcreativegroup.com.

EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS

Set Sail in November with Bluxome Winery and Les Clos

Take in the Bay’s superlative views aboard a private sailboat, while enjoying a paired menu featuring the finest from Bluxome’s winemaker, Webster Marquez and Les Clos’ chef, Shawn Gawle. The food and wine sail is offered at noon and 3 p.m. on Saturdays Nov. 8, 15, 22 and 29, 2014.  The boat departs from Pier 1 along the Embarcadero.  The cost is $250 per person and $210 per person for Wine Club members.  The four-course menu from Les Clos and dessert by Dandelion Chocolate will be paired with the following wines: 2012 Rosé;  2012 SB, 2012 Teac-Mor Chard;  2012 Weir PN and 2012 Balinard. For information, visit reservations@bluxomewinery.com. Media contact, Faith Lemon, faith@bluxomewinery.com

Saint John Coltrane Church A Love Supreme Celebration

On Dec. 8, 2014, San Francisco’s St. John Coltrane Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of the recording of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”  This service is part of the larger five-day global festival beginning Dec. 5 through Dec. 9, 2014.  

The Love Supreme is an ideal that embraces world peace and universal brotherhood. The church encourages the global community to engage in five days of fasting, prayer, meditation and exploring the fullness of the message of John Coltrane’s music and words. The titles of John Coltrane’s compositions are recognized as a formula for inner peace, mental and spiritual wholeness. Grace Cathedral will host the official Coltrane Church evening vespers. Doors open at 6 p.m. with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. service and all are welcome.  For information, visit www.coltranechurch.org. Media contact, Marlee-I Mystic,  415-787-2637 marlee.i.mystic@att.net

ARTS & CULTURE

International Art Museum of America, San Francisco

The International Art Museum of America (IAMA) is a unique art experience in the heart of San Francisco’s Central Market neighborhood.  IAMA strives to provide a global lens for people to appreciate art and culture by unveiling the hidden bonds among seemingly disparate worlds. IAMA works continuously to collect diverse artworks and to expand their collection. 

The museum is located at 1025 Market St. and is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.  Admission is free for the remainder of 2014.  For information, visit www.iamasf.org.  Media contact:  Loretta Huang, 415-376-6344, ext. 7005, lhuang@internationalartmuseum.org.

ACTIVITIES & TOURS

Crooks Tours Brings Back the Bad Old Days

For more than 60 years, danger lurked in the narrow alleys of Chinatown and the Barbary Coast, which was known as the “Wickedest Place in the West.”  With Crooks Tours, actors bring visitors to San Francisco’s old Sydneytown, the French bordellos and the Chinese Tong headquarters of yesteryear. 

During these unique 90-minute nighttime walking tours, the notorious sights, sounds and stories come alive as authentic images and videos are projected onto historic buildings in Chinatown alleys and Barbary Coast streets.  Chinatown tours start at Red’s Place, 672 Jackson St., every first and third Friday night. Barbary Coast tours start at Café Prague, 424 Merchant St. every second and fourth Friday night.  For information, visit www.crookstour.com.  Media contact: Paul Drexler, 415-713-3077, pdrexler8@gmail.com

USS Hornet Museum Launches Multilingual Self-Guided Audio Tours 

The USS Hornet Museum, which offers educational programs focusing on naval history, science and space technology, now provides visitors onboard the ship with the option of using a self-guided audio tour to learn the history of the famous WWII aircraft carrier-turned-museum.  The new one-hour, 36-stop audio tour is available in English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. The Museum is introducing the self-guided tours in order to better serve its ever-growing population of diverse and multicultural visitors. 

The self-guided tour features stories told by 10 men who served on the aircraft carrier, which provides a deeply personal, and at times entertaining, perspective about life onboard the ship. Along with serving in World War II, the aircraft carrier USS Hornet CVS-12 also recovered the first two NASA missions that landed humans on the moon, Apollo 11 and Apollo 12. The carrier is the largest surviving artifact from these space exploration events, which are acknowledged to be among the most important in human history.  The USS Hornet opened to the public as a museum in 1998.  

A registered state and national historic landmark, the ship is open to the public daily 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and is permanently berthed at 707 W. Hornet Ave., Pier 3 in Alameda, CA.  For information, including group tours and event planning, visit http://www.sanfrancisco.travel/explore/activities/uss-hornet-museum or call 510.521.8448. Media contacts:  Victoria Sanchez De Alba, 650-270-7810, victoria@dealba.net or Holly Gallagher, USS Hornet Museum, 510.521.8448, ext. 239, holly.gallagher@uss-hornet.org 

Sonoma Food & Wine Tour

Join Renee ReBell as she leads fellow food and wine enthusiasts along a delectable culinary tour of Sonoma’s downtown plaza, with an incredible array of top restaurants and boutique wineries.

“Downtown Sonoma, just an hour north of San Francisco, boasts dozens of famous restaurants and wine tasting rooms on and near the Square,” said ReBell, founder of the San Francisco Wine Group, who created the tour after enjoying a similar program in Chicago. ReBell’s tours stop at up to seven restaurants and wine tasting rooms, highlighting unique offerings such as Ahi Tuna Tacos, Gourmet Fig Snacks and Pulled Pork Sliders. Tours are offered Thursday -  Monday at 2 p.m. Each tour is approximately 2.5 hours and costs $110 per person. For information, visit www.sanfranciscowinegroup.com. Media contact: Renee ReBell, 415-250-2273, sfwinegroup@gmail.com

BESPOKE – Coming to Westfield San Francisco Centre Spring 2015

BESPOKE, a brand new co-working, event and tech demonstration (demo) space is coming to Westfield San Francisco Centre in Spring 2015 providing innovative space for a mobile office or business meeting. Where San Francisco’s technology and retail marketplaces converge, BESPOKE creates the ideal place to bring together brands and startups, developers, designers and free-spirits, all in the name of innovation, collaboration and inspiration. BESPOKE spaces are designed with customization in mind to meet varying business, meeting, entertaining and retail needs: 

  • BESPOKE Coworking – flexible desk and meeting space can be tailored to fit creation and collaboration needs; unique storefront-conference rooms seamlessly convert from a private space into a retail pop-up shop open to Centre visitors.  
  • BESPOKE Events – optimized for maximum space flexibility to create tailored experiences large and small; state-of-the-art technology meets all event needs.  
  • BESPOKE Demo – customizable, interactive space where entrepreneurs and brands can showcase and customers can discover, touch, test and play with products. 

For information, visit bespoke.westfield.com. Media contact: Taya Varnichpun, 650-762-2827, Taya.Varnichpun@edelman.com.  =

HOTELS

Radisson Fisherman's Wharf to Become Hotel Zephyr in April 2015

In Nov. 2014, the Radisson Fisherman's Wharf will undergo a $30 million renovation and transformation to become Hotel Zephyr, San Francisco’s newest waterfront hotel and play zone. The hotel will remain open during the renovation. 

Hotel Zephyr, scheduled to debut in April 2015, will feature a total of 361 guest quarters and suites, including six newly constructed waterfront suites and parlors and 355 guest quarters, including 63 with personal balconies.  The 11,600-square-foot inner landscape will be a dedicated “Deck & Play Zone.” For additional information visit http://www.radisson.com/san-francisco-hotel-ca-94133/cafisher. Media contact:  Bertin Salas, 415-617-6508, Bertin.salas@radisson.com 

WINERIES & BREW PUBS

Judd’s Hill Winery and MicroCrush

Judd's Hill, located in Napa, CA, is owned and operated by two generations of the Finkelstein family.  Bunnie, Judd and Holly Finkelstein are vintners dedicated to producing ultra-premium, handcrafted wines.  The family has been making wine in Napa Valley since the 1970's and continues to produce signature wines that are fruit-driven, concentrated and delicious.  They take an intimate and personal approach to winemaking and limit their annual production to less than 3,000 cases.  The family also crafts wines in small lots of one to 10 barrels for their Custom MicroCrush customers. For information, visit www.juddshill.com. Media contact: Devin Joshua,  devin@juddshill.com, 707-255-2332 ext. 111

Bear Republic Brewing Company, Inc.

Bear Republic Brewing Company, located in downtown Healdsburg (1.5 hours north of San Francisco) in the heart of Sonoma County, CA, is a family-owned brewery, founded by third and fourth generation Sonoma County residents.  From brewer to bottler, everyone who works at Bear Republic is dedicated to producing fresh, never-filtered craft beer. Their first beer, Ricardo’s Red Rocket Ale, is an example of their hop-forward approach without fear of stepping outside the style-guidelines. Each of their beers, from their flagship IPA, Racer 5, to any of their specialty brewpub-only releases, are carefully crafted with pride in Sonoma County, California. 

Bear Republic Brewing Company recently received gold and bronze medals at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival® (GABF) competition, receiving their 20th and 21st medals overall.  Presented by the Brewers Association, GABF® is the largest national beer competition that recognizes the most outstanding beers produced in the United States.  Bear Republic was one of 16 Northern California breweries to win a medal, and one of two in Sonoma County. For information, visit www.bearrepublic.com. Media contact: Kate Gratto-Bachman, kate@bearrepublic.com, 707-894-2722, ext. 300. 

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (SFO)

China Southern Airlines’ Nonstop Flights between SFO, Wuhan and Guangzhou Begin Dec. 16, 2014

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee announced that China Southern Airlines will begin the first direct service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Guangzhou and Wuhan, China, on Dec. 16, 2014.

In March 2013, Mayor Lee and a small, high-level San Francisco delegation, including the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce, had a two-hour meeting at the Guangzhou headquarters of China Southern with the airline’s CEO Tan Wangeng and his executive team to discuss possible service between San Francisco and Guangzhou.  Mayor Lee pointed out to Tan that approximately 80 percent of Chinese Americans in San Francisco have their roots in Guangdong Province, of which Guangzhou is the capital.  Mayor Lee himself traces his roots to Guangdong Province.  The China Southern visit was part of Mayor Lee’s economic trade mission to China in March of 2013, with stops in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“San Francisco is pleased to welcome China Southern Airlines, and we are more than confident that this flight will be highly successful, based on the strong commerce and cultural ties between the Guangdong Province and our Bay Area region,” said Mayor Lee.  “China Southern CEO Mr. Tan Wangeng and his team helped to facilitate the startup of the new service between SFO and Guangzhou via Wuhan as a result of our first meeting in China, and I thank China Southern for strengthening the relationship between our two regions.”

SFO Director John L. Martin also expressed his enthusiasm over the new service.  “The new flight establishes SFO as the premier gateway to the People’s Republic of China, offering service to more destinations in China than any other U.S. airport.” On Sept. 3, 2014, SFO launched www.flySFO.cn, the first dedicated Chinese-language airport website in the United States, offering navigation in Simplified Chinese.

China Southern Airlines plans to operate flights three days per week, nonstop to Wuhan and continuing to Guangzhou, using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.  The return flights will be Guangzhou-Wuhan-SFO.  China Southern Airlines is the third largest airline in the world by passengers carried, and is the largest airline in Asia by fleet size.  The airline is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance, which includes Air France, Delta Airlines, and KLM.  In 2011, China Southern was awarded Four-Star status by SkyTrax, an independent international agency that monitors the aviation industry and whose aviation benchmarking surveys are considered among the most reliable in the world.  For information, visit http://www.flysfo.com/. Media contact: Doug Yakel, 650-821-4000, doug.yakel@flysfo.com

When Art Rocked: San Francisco Music Posters 1966–1971 Presents Art and Artifacts from the 1960s San Francisco Music Scene

From 1966 to 1971, an unprecedented quantity of extraordinary graphic art was produced in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This resulted from the demand for posters, handbills and flyers advertising rock concerts in San Francisco.  The two main patrons of this proliferation of posters were Bill Graham, who promoted concerts at the Fillmore and Chet Helms, leader of an organization called the Family Dog, which produced concerts at the Avalon Ballroom.

This exhibition features over 150 posters created by these five artists along with many lesser-known artists who designed posters for shows at the Fillmore and Avalon featuring bands such as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators.  Guest curator Ben Marks is the Senior Editor of CollectorsWeekly.com and the Vice-President of The Rock Poster Society, whose members kindly loaned all of the posters, postcards, handbills, tickets, and other ephemera for this exhibition.  “When Art Rocked” is located pre-security in the International Terminal Main Hall Departures Lobby, San Francisco International Airport.  The exhibition is on view to all Airport visitors through March 22, 2015.  There is no charge to view the exhibition. For more information about The Rock Poster Society, please visit TRPS.org. The online version of this exhibition is viewable at: www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/when-art-rocked-san-francisco-music-posters-1966–1971

Etihad Airways Begins Daily Non-Stop Service to San Francisco Nov. 18, 2014

San Francisco becomes Etihad’s sixth U.S.  destination, complementing New York, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles and Dallas (starting Dec. 3, 2014). Etihad will operate a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, leased from their partner Jet Airways, offering eight first class, 30 business class and 308 economy class seats.

“We welcome Etihad Airways to SFO, our international airport,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee.  “This new nonstop flight not only provides a direct route between the San Francisco Bay Area and the United Arab Emirates, but better connects Etihad’s global network throughout the region, including India and Africa.  The Etihad flight is a valuable bridge linking our two regions and our residents, and we are truly confident in its success.”

James Hogan, President and CEO of Etihad Airways, said in a statement that, given San Francisco’s global prominence as a tourism and business center, he anticipates a strong demand for the flights “not only between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi, but onwards to destinations across our network and the networks of our codeshare partners.” For information, visit http://www.flysfo.com/. Media contact: Doug Yakel, 650-821-4000, doug.yakel@flysfo.com

Turkish Airlines Begins Non-Stop Service to San Francisco April 13, 2015

Turkish Airlines will begin non-stop service between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Istanbul on April 13, 2015, with flights operating five days per week to Istanbul using Boeing 777 aircraft.  The flag carrier of Turkey plans to increase service to daily flights on May 11, 2015. Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier of Turkey, is the fourth-largest carrier in the world by destinations served, with flights to more than 200 international locations.  For the fourth year in a row, Turkish Airlines was named in 2014 as the “Best Airline in Europe” by SkyTrax,  an independent international agency that monitors the aviation industry and whose aviation benchmarking surveys are considered among the most reliable in the world. Flights between SFO and Istanbul will be operated using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft seating a total of 337 passengers, made up of 28 business class and 309 economy class seats. For information, visit http://www.flysfo.com/. Media contact: Doug Yakel, 650-821-4000, doug.yakel@flysfo.com