Greens Restaurant

Founded in 1979 by the San Francisco Zen Center, Greens is a landmark restaurant that was influential in establishing vegetarian cooking as a cuisine in America. In addition to its innovative dining, it’s famed for its location in Fort Mason Center on San Francisco Bay, with stunning views of the Marina and Golden Gate Bridge.

Less well known is Greens pioneering dedication to local, sustainable, and organic – decades before they became buzzwords. Produce is grown at their organic Green Gulch Farm in Marin County. The paneling, banquettes and cabinetry were crafted from cedar by Oakland woodworker Paul Discoe. A seating area was carved from a gigantic redwood burl by legendary Marin County sculptor JB Blunk.

So I was honored when Greens approached me to help renovate their To Go area and create some new pieces for the dining room. The design challenge was to respect the history and character of Greens while freshening it up and improving functionality.



For the To Go area we designed a new service counter with a glass bakery case flanked by curved counters of 2 ½” thick maple. The front paneling and display shelving on the rear wall are made of “character” walnut with highlights of blond sapwood. The backsplash tiles are from Heath Ceramics.



A service station made of “character” walnut hugs the curved wall in the dining room. Its organic shape is a nod to California Modernism and Studio Furniture of the sixties and seventies.


At the entry to the dining room, the rounded-front host station echoes the nautical lines of the boats on the bay seen through the windows.


In the foreground, an oversized hand-carved walnut door pull.

Photos by Peter Prato

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