photographer: Kris Tamburello
The Plant: Cafe Organic occupies two historic, waterfront buildings at Pier 3, straddling what was once a railroad passage, which CCS Architecture has modified to create a full-service, 112-seat restaurant and a separate, counter-service cafe. The Plant is one of the "greenest" restaurants in San Francisco--and one of the few in the country with a rooftop solar PV system for on-site, electrical energy production.
CCS inserted light, delicate interiors within the existing pier warehouses, using reclaimed wood, recycled-content tiles and an eclectic mix of zinc, cold-rolled steel, and stainless steel to finish out the spaces. The Plant, like many new projects within converted pier buildings along San Francisco's Embarcadero, is helping revitalize this edge of the city where the land meets the Bay.
The 1400-square-foot dining space, originally built in the early 1900s, features 18-foot ceilings, exposed timber structure, and 16-foot-high casement windows that admit natural light and stunning views of the water. CCS added clusters of Edison bulb lights to fill the lofty space; steel and brass pendant lights enliven the bar and community table. Green wall tiles, made by Heath Ceramics of Sausalito, CA, set off the live-fire pizza oven and zinc-topped bar. A wood-slat ceiling enhances the room's acoustics while relating to the original Plant Cafe's design, also by CCS.
Low walls and banquettes made from locally sourced hickory and cold-rolled steel shape the room, forming a central, built-in planter installed with towering queen palms. CCS designed all the restaurant's tables; the community table, made from walnut and soapstone, is a focal point. San Francisco gardener Flora Grubb created a living wall, installed with air plants, on the cafe's north wall. Vibrant green flooring is made from coconut shells. Bayside seating hugs the water and has overhead canopies with heating and lighting to allow comfort all year. Sidewalk dining along The Embarcadero gets warm afternoon sun.
The Plant's kitchen and counter-service cafe are located across the breezeway from the restaurant. Guests interact with chilled display cases and zinc countertops, and there is limited counter seating on the ground floor. The existing loft space, with original Douglas fir floors and new blackened-steel railings, is now a unique dining loft that sits above the cafe.