Mixologist: Chaya bartender has weathered The City’s ups and downs 

Chaya Brasserie: Bartender Eric Schreiber has seen a lot during his decadelong stint at Chaya Brasserie, an Asian-French-inspired restaurant that offers stunning views of San Francisco Bay. One could say he has seen the best of times and the worst of times. He was witness to the frivolity and decadence of the dot-com boom and the quick eradication of expense accounts during the bust. He has seen the economy turn around and then, well, promptly tank. The highs and lows of those times are not lost on Schreiber or the rest of the team at Chaya. So for the sake of consistency, it offers a killer happy hour that never ends. Seriously, it starts at 4 p.m. and goes until closing, seven nights a week. No joke. Yes, Chaya Brasserie has learned to take things in stride (a sentiment that is very well-represented in Schreiber). It must be why it survived one of the tougher decades on bars and restaurants. 132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, (415) 777-8688, www.thechaya.com

How’d you get into bartending? I’ve been working in restaurants for a long time now, and I just naturally gravitated toward this part. I bussed, I waited, I cooked, I tried them all and this was definitely the one that when I tried it, people said, “That’s you, that’s where you belong.” So it’s been ... I don’t even want to say how long. It’ll make me look old.

So where are you from? Well, I’m grew up in Michigan, but I’ve lived here 30 years. So you can say I’m a native now.

Did you move out here after high school? Land of opportunity.

Were there no jobs in Michigan even then? If Michigan seems depressed now, it was actually worse in the ’70s.

So you’re telling us that you moved here when you were 18 years old when it was the ’70s in San Francisco. It was 1980.

That must’ve been amazing. It was awesome. I had a great time. The ’80s were great. You can quote me on that. There was so much good music to see all the time. I saw every major artist of that era. We’re talking first Stateside appearances of the Cure, Psychedelic Furs and Duran Duran’s maybe, like, first-ever U.S. appearance, before MTV was even invented. It was at a place called the I-Beam on Haight Street. I pretty much never spent a night at home from 1980 to 1985.

If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? Miles Davis. My hero. He’s a genius. I think he’d probably be a Manhattan drinker. Definitely not into any of the new fancy drinks.

Talk about the name of this restaurant and what it means. The original thought behind combining chaya, which is Japanese for teahouse, and brasserie, which obviously is a dining style originating in Paris. So the chaya is a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, and it’s a place that offers very gracious, warm hospitality and welcome. Now, a Parisian brasserie is known for its bustling energy and cosmopolitan vitality, but not exactly for its warm hospitality and service. So the owners’ idea was to combine the atmosphere with the brasserie with the hospitality of the chaya.


BASIL CUCUMBER GIMLET

  • Press 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves with simple sugar syrup in a metal shaker cup.
  • Add ice and 3 cucumber slices and crush with muddler.
  • Squeeze in juice of ½ lime.
  • Add 2 oz. vodka (Chaya pours Karlsson’s Gold Potato vodka).
  • Shake well and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with slice of cucumber and twist of lime.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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