Ownership Shuffle Behind the Concept Change at South Food + Wine Bar in SOMA

Categories: Buzz Machine

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Luke Mangan: The Sydney chef is out.
​At SFGate last night, Inside Scoop broke the news that South Food + Wine Bar (330 Townsend at Fourth St.) was dropping its Ozzie concept, closing Dec. 19, and relaunching in early 2010 with an American-inspired menu under new-hire chef Jennifer Puccio. Turns out there's a bit more to the story. According to South's Anna Weinberg, an ownership shuffle was a big factor behind the planned concept change. Original partners Luke Mangan (the Sydney superchef) and Liz O'Connell have sold their interests to Weinberg and an unnamed financial partner.

Turns out Mangan ― South's faraway executive chef ― had too many other commitments (a new Melbourne restaurant, new book, and a contract with Virgin Australia) to stay personally involved in his S.F. outpost. "Continuing an Australian concept without a serious Australian chef was not an option for the partners," Weinberg said via e-mail. Then, too, the global economic crisis causes the closure of many small food importers South relied on, and the relative strength of the Australian dollar put a squeeze on South's profits.

Weinberg, who was making arrangements to leave for New Zealand to celebrate her mother's 60th birthday, said she and chef Puccio would have details about the new restaurant in early January.

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