A full dining room at One Market, now celebrating 30 years. (Photo/Courtesy)
A full dining room at One Market, now celebrating 30 years. (Photo/Courtesy)

One Market anchors ‘foot’ of downtown S.F. for 30 years 

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Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

For a restaurant reliant on the business lunch and post-work crowd, One Market has weathered 9/11, the dot bomb, the financial disaster of 2008, and then Covid-19.

Now, the restaurant at the foot of Market Street is celebrating 30 years in business — a long time in the life of any restaurant.

Michael Dellar at One Market (Photo/Hardy Wilson)
Michael Dellar at One Market (Photo/Hardy Wilson)

Michael Dellar, managing partner, opened One Market with James Beard award-winning chef Bradley Ogden (who later left to open a restaurant in Las Vegas). It was 1993, a time when the neighborhood was in transition. The Loma Prieta earthquake had left its mark four years earlier, the Ferry Building had not yet been renovated, there was no ballpark or Chase Center, and no one lived nearby.

Through all of the changes, after three decades, Dellar said, “we’re like the Energizer bunny.”

To mark the anniversary, through Feb. 28 One Market is offering favorite dishes from each of its chefs and menus past.

Its opening-night menu wouldn’t be out of place today. Items included a pan-baked sturgeon with baked cannellini beans and arugula pesto, and a mixed grill of rabbit and quail salad with citrus dressing. What is most noteworthy about the menu is the prices; the most expensive entrée was $18.50. A “pot of pickled vegetables” was $2.

One Market's 30th Anniversary classic Braised Beef Short Ribs, created by former chef and co-founder Bradley Ogden, who led the kitchen from 1993 to 2002. (Photo/Courtesy)
One Market’s 30th Anniversary classic Braised Beef Short Ribs, created by former chef and co-founder Bradley Ogden, who led the kitchen from 1993 to 2002. (Photo/Courtesy)

Dellar, 77, has had a long career both in and out of the food world. Raised in Los Angeles, he said his mother was both a great cook and entertainer, the type to put doilies beneath the water glasses. She cooked all types of food and was equally adept making Jewish brisket or not-Jewish prime rib, he said.

“I learned at her knee, so I loved food and making food,” Dellar said. “I had the mom where all my buddies wanted to come hang out for dinner. Anyone who got sick got her matzah ball soup and sweet and sour stuffed cabbage.”

While he was always interested in food and wine and took plenty of cooking classes, Dellar’s career was more on the executive side. He co-founded the Lark Creek Restaurant Group, which at one time included 14 restaurants, serving as its CEO and president, and was also an executive at Spectrum Foods Inc. and Clorox Co.

He eventually moved from the Orinda/Lafayette area to the Napa Valley to start making wine in 2003. Together with Jewish community leader Mort Friedkin, Dellar is the owner of the boutique Stardust Wines, which produced its first cabernet in 2006.

Which is one reason his restaurants have been known not only for their food but for their wine, too.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on having award-winning wine lists,” Dellar said. “Now our star sommelier is Tonya Pitts. It’s a big part of what we do.”

What would he say is the staying power of One Market?

“It’s the people,” Dellar said. “We’ve been really fortunate in having some really talented people who believe in really satisfying the guests.”

Whether it has been innovations like putting a chef’s table in the kitchen, or being among the first restaurants to do away with a smoking section, Dellar and his team haven’t been afraid to try something new.

Mark ’n Mike’s “Big Fresser” platter. (Photo/Hardy Wilson)
Mark ’n Mike’s “Big Fresser” platter. (Photo/Hardy Wilson)

He also likes to give credit where it is due, noting that it was One Market’s chef of 18 years, Mark Dommen, who suggested the Jewish deli concept Mark n’ Mike’s when the pandemic started.

“We knew that during the pandemic, people weren’t going to buy these more luxurious items,” he said. When Dommen suggested Jewish deli, Dellar said “you don’t have to twist my arm.” Since he had grown up on Nate and Al’s in Los Angeles, he liked the double-named moniker.

Matzah ball soup, pastrami sandwiches and latkes with a variety of toppings are menu stalwarts. “We don’t make any more money, but we have a lot more fun,” Dellar said. “It’s so hard to make money with deli. You can only charge so much for a sandwich, and the product is so expensive.”

Given its location, and its ability to host huge events with an atrium that fits 1,200, One Market has hosted parties for giant organizations from Apple to the National Football League.

Michael Dellar with his wife, Leslye, and two daughters on the occasion of One Market's opening in 1993.
Michael Dellar with his wife, Leslye, and two daughters on the occasion of One Market’s opening in 1993.

“We like to say important things happen at the foot of Market Street,” Dellar said. That goes for his own family, too. His wife, Leslye, has been the restaurant’s floral designer the entire time, waking up at 4 a.m. to go to the San Francisco Flower Mart. The restaurant hosted their daughter’s wedding, as well as b’nai mitzvah receptions for three grandchildren.

Though well past traditional retirement age, Dellar still enjoys his work, and said he’s taking it day by day.

“I’ve got a vineyard to run, wine to make, charity to do,” he said. “We’ll have to see what the future holds.”

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, One Market is offering dishes from past menus during lunch and dinner through the end of February. Walk-ins are welcome.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."