City's First Rotating Pop-Up Kitchen Opens In SoMa

Photos: Joint Venture Kitchen

While San Francisco boasts a robust culinary scene, newcomers hoping to break in first require startup money, the perfect location, and an ability to wade through city ordinances.

Even for the experienced, opening a new eatery can be a tall order, which is why veteran restaurateur Steve Paoli and business partner Kristina Skoro have opened Joint Venture Kitchen (JVK), the city's first fully stocked rotating pop-up kitchen.

"We are really doing this for ourselves," Paoli told Hoodline via phone. "I've been doing this for an awfully long time and there comes a point where you ask yourself, 'how many times can you reinvent a restaurant?'"

Paoli grew up in the business and has opened more than a dozen restaurants and cafes; from 1951 to 1984, his family operated Paoli's, a popular Financial District bar and eatery.


Based in SoMa, Paoli said JVK is an incubator that offers the same infrastructure and layout as "a complete restaurant," but on a rental basis so entrepreneurs "don't have that risk of doing it alone." For the most part, clients will be charged by the hour or day, he said.

"There's crazy numbers for the amount that people are raising to open restaurants these days," Paoli said.

Given JVK's business model, the space can be used by multiple clients on both a long-term and ad hoc basis, such as a pop-up with regular hours, hosted parties or bookings by chefs who are building their personal brand.

The impetus for the project stems from Paoli's industry expertise and his interest in the city's ever-evolving culinary scene.

"That's my skillset. I know back of the house and front of the house. I want to help and I want to coach," he said.

Some of the most promising talent comes from bartenders, sous chefs and line cooks--and even home brewers and chocolatiers.

"That's the key to this whole concept, that anybody with an idea can do it."

To help entrepreneurs hone their business skills, Paoli offers entrepreneurs a profit-and-loss sheet for their pop-up "so they learn to associate numbers with the skillset they have."

Aspiring chefs and artisanal makers should view the business side as seriously as their craft, "and if you don't know the numbers, you shouldn't be getting involved," he said.

He's already begun to interview candidates, too, with Mexican pop-up Salpicon serving already lunch in the space, formerly Betty's Cafeteria and Family Garden Japanese restaurant.

Siska Marcus, "a rising star and a brilliant chef specializing in Indonesian cuisine," has also been slated to use the kitchen, he said. "She's hard-working, highly skilled, passionate and has a great storyline."

Plans are in the works to bring local wineries and brewers in the mix, too, he said. "Not to brag, but it's a pretty impressive list of small batch, quality companies that I'm excited about adding to our collaboration list," he said.

"I want to get these individuals in a station where they can intelligently move forward with their ideas."

Siska Marcus' first pop-up at JVC is March 10th at 7pm. You can take a look at the menu offerings along with her future events at JVC here.
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