Slow Club & Serpentine: Erin Rooney
One of the most intriguing things about Rooney is how little has been written about her, as few young, female restaurant entrepreneurs fit her mold. She started busing tables at her aunt's restaurant at the age of 15, and then later worked as a server at the now-closed 42 Degrees in Oakland, formerly owned by the same owner as the Slow Club. After scrupulously saving her tips and successfully applying for a Small Business Administration loan, Rooney bought the restaurant from him in 1998. She was just 27 with no business experience--an unusual underdog tale in a town that often eats inexperienced restarauteurs for lunch. "I was really lucky that the business was up and running and that it already had some key people. But I had no idea what I was doing, and I had never managed people before." Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Slow Club remains a bustling Potrero staple, and Serpentine was one of the first posh eateries in the Dogpatch when it opened in 2007. As of this writing, Rooney reports "another project in the mix, but it's too soon to talk about it." With her track record, however, it will likely be an unexpected success.
Joel Bleskacek and Maxine Siu, owners and operators of Plow in Potrero, are friends of Rooney's from 42 Degrees. "I like to go for breakfast during the week. I like to get their omelet, and I recently had a duck confit and sweet potato hash that was great." And while she's not a regular at organic Mexican eatery Papito ("I'm not a regular anywhere"), a recent visit for their Sopa Ranchera and Bajatacos left her overwhelmingly impressed.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD NEEDS:
"In terms of retail, there's a bit of a gap. We would love a little market." Or some sort of small-scale, deli-equipped alternative to Whole Foods and Good Life.
HOP MUNI FOR:
Rooney lives aboard a boat in Sausalito, and a night out is riding the ferry to the Ferry Building for dinner at the Slanted Door. "We work with some of the same farmers, and it's interesting to see them using the same ingredients in different ways."
Slow Clup & Serpentine was published in the Spring 2011 issue of Edible San Francisco Magazine. © 2011 Edible San Francisco.