Chef Heena Patel is breaking out on her own, leaving the Alta Group
Heena Patel, the chef behind Dogpatch restaurant Besharam, is cutting loose from restaurateur Daniel Patterson’s Alta Group, with which she’s operated in partnership for a year.
Patel, an alum of SF food incubator La Cocina, took over creative control at the 1275 Minnesota Street restaurant space last May, launching her first restaurant and serving food inspired by her upbringing in Gujarat, India. Working with Patterson, Patel converted what was previously an Alta restaurant at the location, which Patterson opened inside the Minnesota Street Project galleries and studios in 2017.
“By assuming full control of my restaurant, I can focus on putting my heart and soul into the food and guest experience,” Patel said in a statement shared with Eater SF. A representative for Besharam says the decision to part ways was mutual.
“We’re thrilled to have been a part of Heena’s journey,” an Alta representative said on behalf of the group. “Our Alta Group family will continue cheering on Heena, Besharam and the Minnesota Street Project in this next chapter.”
Moving forward, Patel says she’ll update her food and drink menu and relaunch a “new rendition” of Besharam in July. Rebecca Lanham (Al’s Place, Absinthe) will take over as general manager, and Elspeth Eustis (Bellota) will take the lead on cocktails. Besharam will stay open as usual, and continue new service options like all-day chai service with Gujarati dry snacks from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday.
“It’s expensive; Owning a place in San Francisco is hard,” admits Patel, who says she’s retained support from investors. She’s determined to continue despite the difficulties: “I love this place,” Patel says of the restaurant and its location.
“It’s clean, and shiny... I felt like, this is still a baby, still a newborn, and I’ve never seen it developed fully, so I never thought of leaving this space or going somewhere else. I felt like it hasn’t seen its potential yet, and I’m there to take it to that level.”
The Alta Group, meanwhile, has plenty of projects to focus on elsewhere: It opened a new restaurant in Los Angeles this fall, Alta Adams, and still plans an Alta location for the Yotel on Market Street. It’s still partners at Kaya, where chef Nigel Jones reimagined the original Market Street Alta space, and at Dyafa in Oakland with chef Reem Assil.
But elsewhere, it’s been rougher going for the group: This winter, the Alta group ceded control of Alfred’s Steakhouse, which it took over in 2016. Michelin-starred Aster, a partnership with chef Brett Cooper, closed recently as Cooper departed for Los Angeles. To take over, Patterson and the Alta Group have tapped the Guamanian-American restaurateurs behind Prubechu.