Dining Out for Life happens Thursday, April 25. Every year, nearly 100 restaurants donate a portion of their sales to benefit the free, local programs and services of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. All of our participating restaurants share in our mission to end HIV transmission and expand access to life-saving care. Have you made your reservation? Find a restaurant!
As the restaurants gear up for this one special night, we sat down with three owners to find out why they are so committed to the cause: Kurt Abney from Dottie’s in San Francisco, Nicole Krasinski from State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, and Sol Hernandez from Sol Food in San Rafael.
For diners who’ve never been to your restaurant, tell us what it’s like.
Abney: Dottie’s is in a beautiful 1910 brick building with hardwood floors, and high ceilings with exposed beams and marble countertops with an open kitchen. There are pictures of performers from the Cotton Club on the walls and jazz is played throughout the day. It is a busy breakfast/lunch place with a fast pace, but I never want anyone to feel rushed. There is an outdoor roof deck which we are not using yet, but hope to have it open within the next couple of months.
Hernandez: Coming into Sol is like the cheapest vacation you will ever take!
Krasinski: When people come into State Bird Provisions, they will find an open kitchen, interactive service, and innovative food. It’s casual, upbeat, and easy-going. We use carts and trays to serve most of our food, so you’re really eating with your eyes first—you get to see what you choose. It’s fun!
What’s your favorite dish you serve and why?
Krasinski: The uni (sea urchin) pancake. It’s delicious and it’s the best way imaginable to eat uni.
Hernandez: I like the picadillo, arroz con pollo, pasteles, and tostones. It's all very good so it’s hard to pick just one favorite.
Abney: All of our breads and pastries are made from scratch on the premises daily. I personally lean toward the vegetarian dishes, because that is my diet. It's hard for me to pick an item as a favorite but I do particularly like the zucchini cakes that are topped with poached eggs and a spicy marinara sauce and served with home fries and fresh fruit. It is a gluten-free dish, as well.
What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever received from a customer?
Hernandez: I enjoy when our customers tell us that our food and our restaurant makes them feel like they are at home.
Krasinski: Honestly, the best compliment is when someone asks when they can come back.
Abney: The majority of people have been extraordinarily kind over the years. There has been many a kind word spoken to me and it is always touching for someone to take a moment to stop and say thank you for what you do on their way out the door. It is far more rewarding than money.
Why is Dining Out for Life so important to you?
Krasinski: It’s a cause we’ve long believed in and support, and what’s more important than promoting good health in our community?
Abney: Dining Out for Life is so important to me because I lost my all of my close friends I had known since the age of 18 and my partner of 10 years to AIDS in a four-year period, ending in 1994. My partner and I had just fulfilled a dream of moving to Paris when he died suddenly 10 days after we arrived there. I returned here to be around people I love to begin the healing.
Hernandez: We always participate in Dining Out for Life because I like the idea of being a part of change for the better.
Who inspires you in your work?
Abney: I am inspired by my late partner, Stephen, as well as my grandmother who had a farm and taught me a lot about food. People I have worked with in the industry that have had an impact in one way or another are Barbara Tropp, Gary Danko, Julia Orenstein, and Cathy Burgett of Tante Marie cooking school.
Hernandez: My husband and co-workers inspire me.
Krasinski: My husband and co-owner, Stuart Brioza. [Stuart also chimed in, saying he’s most inspired by Nicole].
Where will you be Dining Out for Life this year? Join us Thursday, April 25, at one of nearly 100 Bay Area restaurants and make a delicious difference in the fight against AIDS. Make your reservations today!
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