Real estate investor Tom Henderson to open up to 10 Bay Area restaurants

Real estate investor Tom Henderson to open up to 10 Bay Area restaurants

Shortly after announcing his plan to fill Oakland's supermarket hole within the year, Oakland real estate investor Tom Henderson has more plans for injecting jobs — and food — into the Bay Area. Henderson's plans includes a private venue space and a partnership with a restaurateur for up to 10 restaurants in the East Bay and San Francisco.

First up is his plan for the I. Magnin building, the former Community Bank of the Bay headquarters and the Dufwin Theatre that sits next to the Paramount. Henderson's team from the Tribune Tavern, including general manager Rob Soviero and executive chef Michael Luong, will help him open a rooftop venue for weddings and private events at the top of the building, called the Magnin Rooftop Lounge.

The Uptown Oakland venue at 2001 Broadway will hold up to 400 people in its 8,000 square feeet of indoor and outdoor space. It's set to open tentatively in March, and Henderson said he already has several weddings and a sporting event booked for the spot.

Tribune Tavern's Soviero and Luong will be Henderson's partners at the venue, which will only be open for events. The plan comes after Henderson's split with restaurateur Chris Pastena, who was his partner in Tribune Tavern and Lungomare. Henderson divested Lungomare to Pastena and took over full responsibility for Tribune Tavern.

Henderson will embark on a new restaurant partnership with Marin County restaurateur Shah Bahreyni who owns Boca Tavern and Boca Pizzeria locations in Novato and Corte Madera.

Henderson and Bahreyni have plans for up to 10 restaurants in the Bay Area. Most of them would be fast casual spots in Oakland and the East Bay that feature "high value, with great ingredients," Bahreyni said. It will likely be a pizzeria concept, but separate from Bahreyni's Boca Pizzeria chain. Each spot would be about 2,500 to 3,000 square feet.

They want to do something different in San Francisco, and open one or two full-service restaurants in locations that are around 5,000 square feet.

The restaurant projects are part of a larger plan from Henderson to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign investors and create thousands of jobs. The restaurants would make use of the EB-5 visa program, which would allow investors to get green cards provided that Henderson creates the required amount of jobs. (Read our cover story on Henderson from 2013 to get the full picture.)

For every $500,000 put in by foreign investors, Henderson has to create 10 jobs. The restaurants in San Francisco, he said, would create 50 to 60 jobs each.

Henderson and Bahreyni haven't scooped up specific locations yet, but they are looking in the areas that are identified by government as "targeted employment areas." There are 18 of those census tracts in Oakland. As for the San Francisco restaurants, they hope to land a spot this year from a restaurant closing — so as not to have spend time on changing the building use.

Bahreyni's partnership with Henderson is only part of his upcoming plans for new restaurants. Along with executive chef and partner Sam Ramadan, he has signed a lease to open Caputo a 4,100- square-foot restaurant at 100 Brannan St., a spot fronting the Embarcadero that was briefly home to Charles Phan's popular Ferry Building restaurant, The Slanted Door.

Caputo will seat 120 people inside and 60 people on an outdoor patio and will specialize in Neopolitan pizzas, pastas and salads, as well as offer a long wine, cocktail and craft beer list.

Bahreyni and Ramadan opened Boca Tavern in Novato in 2005 and followed in 2010 with the more casual Boca Pizzeria concept. A second location of Boca Pizzeria opened the following year in 2011 in Corte Madera, and a third is tentatively slated to open in 2017 in Walnut Creek's Broadway Plaza, which is currently undergoing a $250 million renovation.


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