It makes perfect sense that Annette's first restaurant would have a 60-foot palm tree growing right in the middle of it. After all, it's Annette's love of all things coastal and casual, sophisticated yet simple, that informs every aspect of Nettie"s Crab Shack. She has opened and managed some of San Francisco's most highly regarded and highly visible restaurants over the last 15 years, but this is ultimately where she would want to eat, the kind of soulful place that is truly in her heart.
It was the sense of community in San Francisco's progressive restaurant industry that drew Annette from the Southern California coast to the Bay Area. Although she never wavered in her desire to open her own restaurant, it wasn't until she arrived in San Francisco that she began to learn the lessons that would eventually guide her to her own place. Annette started her career in the City with a bang at Square One and Aqua, two of the most well-known restaurants of their time and San Francisco institutions even now. She partnered with Chef Gordon Drysadale to open the wildly popular and award-winning Gordon's House of Fine Eats, moved on to manage the uniquely successful Foreign Cinema, opened the highly publicized Jack Falstaff with the PlumpJack Group and served as the Director of Operations of Home Restaurants. She has most recently opened the highly acclaimed Spruce, easily San Francisco's most anticipated and talked-about restaurant in years, and its most coveted reservation. She maintains a spotless reputation in the Bay Area as a hard worker with a sense of humor, balancing the highest standards for food and service with a healthy perspective that after all is said and done... "it's just dinner".
It is Annette's firm belief that great food can be prepared either simply or exquisitely and that service doesn't have to be pretentious to be precise. She is thrilled by the prospect of celebrating the seasons with food, by sustaining the planet by serving only what is the freshest and most available, and by restoring confidence in service that is "California casual" but San Francisco worthy. Annette's time has finally come-a cool, urban setting for a warm, seaside restaurant-palm tree included.
Brian Leitner's story starts like many others--baking chocolate chip cookies with grandma, hovering over a steamy pot of matzoh ball soup, stealing the turkey thigh while mom was carving the Thanksgiving Day bird. After graduating from college with a degree in business economics, however, the road diverged for a moment while Brian pursued a career as an accountant--think budget analysis reports, financial reports, computers, numbers, (yawn).
It didn't take too long for Brian to realize that accounting was not his true passion, and that cooking was indeed his calling. Guided by Chef Gordon Drysdale at Caffe Museo in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Brian divided his hours learning how to differentiate salt from pepper, and more importantly, getting an education in seasonal, simply delicious food.
After recognizing Brian's talents, Drysdale enlisted him to help open his SOMA restaurant, Gordon's House of Fine Eats, as his Executive Sous Chef. Here, he learned the integral steps involved in opening a restaurant, menu development and managing his kitchen staff, which provided him with the fundamental foundation for his career as a chef and business owner. He continued to pursue his PhD in cooking by spending the next five years at the internationally renowned Chez Panisse. This, of course, changed Brian's attitude about food and cooking and forced him to look at how to create menus from the product's source. He learned about sustainability and organic agriculture, not just by cooking the food, but by meeting the farmers who grew the coffee beans, raised the poultry, caught the fish or made the wine and cheese. It was these unforgettable lessons that keep Brian excited about cooking and teaching cooks, servers and guests.
In 2005, Brian joined the ownership team of Living Room Events as Executive Chef. During his tenure here, the company saw a 25% increase in revenue and became known as THE "go to" caterers for organic, sustainable food.
Brian has always dreamed of opening his own neighborhood joint where he can highlight his delicious and honest food, in a casual and friendly atmosphere and could not be more thrilled about the opening of Nettie's Crab Shack. Inspired by the traditional regional dishes he has discovered throughout his travels, Brian takes a lighter approach in the kitchen and puts his own soulful touch on the menu items he creates.