Bona fide domestic goddess Ayesha Curry is opening her first full-service restaurant — and to the surprise of many, it’s slated for a pretty storied space in San Francisco. According to Eater SF, Curry’s barbecue concept called International Smoke will take over the space currently occupied by chef Michael Mina’s once-lauded RN74.
Curry (who’s married to Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry and has deftly transformed herself into a go-to personality in the cooking world) and Mina (whose namesake restaurant group operates more than a dozen concepts) have partnered before. In 2016, International Smoke made its debut as a pop-up concept in the chef’s MINA Test Kitchen. Later that year, the duo announced the first permanent iteration of International Smoke would open in Hawaii, inside the awkwardly named STREET, A Michael Mina Social House — essentially a curated collection of hawker-like stalls inside Waikiki’s International Marketplace. The Waikiki STREET concept, which features 12 stalls total, will debut in mid-May. Curry’s barbecue will also be part of an upcoming STREET in Los Angeles, which won’t debut until 2018.
This San Francisco location, which the Mina team has not publicly confirmed, would be Curry’s first restaurant. But in an email obtained by Eater SF, Mina writes that “Ayesha and I have worked on this project for quite some time and are excited to share a lighter side of barbecue, featuring global flavors and cooking techniques with signature Mina Group hospitality that you've come to know.”
If the menu mirrors the pop-up version, expect everything from St. Louis-style ribs to char siu pork to pastrami; in a video promoting the pop-up that appeared on Curry’s YouTube channel, few hints emerge about what the menu or decor might look like in a more permanent version. But Curry does note: “I’m a pretty good bartender.”
Curry’s brief but spectacular culinary career to date includes multiple cookbooks, her own Food Network Show (Ayesha’s Home Kitchen), and an upcoming cookware line, with a TBD release date. Just last week, Curry launched her long-stewing meal kit delivery service, called Homemade, and saw subscriptions sell out in the first day: Those first Homemade boxes will hit subscriber doorsteps later this week.
Clearly, having three locations in the works — both at the smaller and larger scale — signals that Curry and Mina consider International Smoke to be a scalable concept. No word on whether Smoke will take over Mina’s RN74 location in Seattle, or where else the domestic diva might plan on opening next.