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Openings: Let The Games Begin

Thriller Social Club. | Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fong.

Thriller Social Club

508 4th Street, San Francisco |

The folks behind Wilder and Westwood have planted another flag in San Francisco, opening Thriller Social Club about a month ago. A former foundry in SoMa has been converted into a vintage circus-themed 10,400-square-foot emporium of fun, complete with myriad arcade games, three bars and playful dining experiences. Perfect your Skee- Ball skills or test-drive the $85,000 golf simulator (Tiger Woods and Steph Curry reportedly have the same model in their homes). The menu, developed in partnership with Stag Dining Group and inspired by classic Americana fare, includes fries dusted with nori-ranch powder, buttery lobster rolls with bacon and boozy cotton candy. A custom wood-fired pizza oven churns out toothsome pies. The second-floor Fortuna Lounge boasts rare whiskies, tequilas and mezcals, which can be integrated into custom cocktails.


Friends Indeed. | Photo courtesy of Graham Holochpa.

Friends Indeed

1720 Armstrong Avenue, San Francisco |

Micki Meng is “doubling down in San Francisco,” she says of her second gallery in the City. Approximately two years after opening the 168-square-foot Friends Indeed on the border of Chinatown and the Financial District, she launched a 2,500-square-foot Bayview location. “I have a bathroom,” Meng jokes of the benefit of having a bigger space, before adding that the sequel allows her to “engage with artists who want to work more large-scale.” And while group shows are possible at both venues, with the smaller one, she says, “There was always a mild panic: Are all the works going to fit in here or look too crammed?” The inaugural exhibition in the new space, Mother and Child, includes 17 artists — Loie Hollowell, Catherine Opie and Jiab Prachakul among them — and is on view through December 17 by appointment.


Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo. | Photo courtesy of Artem Nazarov.

Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

1451 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto |

After a three-year closure, the Junior Museum & Zoo reopened last month on the north side of Rinconada Park. The emphasis on hands-on nature and science experiences remains, with the Friends of the JMZ (which met its $25 million fundraising goal thanks in large part to a $15 million grant from the Peery family) and the City of Palo Alto (which contributed an additional $8+ million) enlisting CAW Architects and Studio Hanson Roberts for the redesign. The previous facility totaled 19,000 square feet, while the new one clocks in at 34,000 — centering on an exhibit hall, education center and outdoor zoo. Among the standout attractions: a state-of-the-art treehouse created with children of all ages and abilities in mind; an expansive ball machine that includes a xylophone staircase and series of ball tracks; and habitats for meerkats, lemurs, rabbits, flamingos, fish, macaws, Edward the giant African tortoise and more.


Penny Roma. | Photo courtesy of Krescent Carasso.

Penny Roma

3000 20th Street, San Francisco |

Chefs Ryan Pollnow and Thomas McNaughton have expanded the Flour+Water Hospitality Group’s portfolio. The duo tells the Gazette that their latest restaurant, Penny Roma, “was born out of our desire to create a space in our 20th Street corridor that has more of a casual, dinner party vibe.” Seasonal ingredients from local farms and purveyors shine, with the pasta-focused lineup also showcasing wood-fired dishes. (Pasta classes are forthcoming.) The Flour+Water Pasta Shop — which is located in the same building as Penny Roma and offers pasta kits along with other provisions — recently introduced an Enoteca menu that is available in the evenings and includes small bites. (Twelve-year-old Flour+Water, just down the street, is temporarily closed for renovation and is slated to reopen in early 2022.)

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