Stars was a landmark restaurant in San Francisco, California, from 1984 through 1999. Along with Spago, Michael's, and Chez Panisse, it is considered one of the birthplaces of California cuisine, New American cuisine, and the institution of the celebrity chef.
Jeremiah Tower, former chef of Chez Panisse, opened Stars at 150 Redwood Alley near San Francisco's City Hall in 1984, together with investors from Berkeley's Fourth Street Grill and Santa Fe Bar and Grill. With an opulent interior, a busy open kitchen, and an unabashed preference for socialites and celebrities, Stars and its pioneering approach to food and dining became an instant sensation.
The restaurant was among the top-grossing eateries in the United States for years. Tower opened branches of Stars Oakville restaurant in Oakville (Napa Valley), Palo Alto, Manila, and Singapore. He opened The Peak Cafe in Hong Kong in the 1990s, as well as various related ventures in San Francisco including a more casual cafe and an upscale bistro Stars Cafe, next door, another restaurant nearby known as Speedo 690 located at 690 Van Ness Avenue described by Tower as "romantic Polynesian cuisine", and a kitchenware shop. His side ventures invariably failed, and by the late 1990s even Stars began losing money rapidly due to its inability to attract sufficient numbers of affluent diners who could support the restaurant's high overhead. Stars closed in late 1999, after which a "bittersweet" Tower declared that he was done with California.
After Tower's departure the restaurant was reopened briefly by new investors under the same name but with a less expensive, Mediterranean concept. In 2004 it became the new location of San Francisco's Trader Vic's, which had been closed since 1994. The Palo Alto location of Stars became a branch of Wolfgang Puck's Spago Restaurant in 1997.
Several independently noteworthy chefs worked at Stars. Stars alumni include:
- Dominique Crenn (Chef & Owner of Atelier Crenn & Petit Crenn)
- Joey Altman (Bay Cafe television program, Wild Hare restaurant)
- Brendan Walsh (Chef/Dean of Culinary Education at The Culinary Institute of America - Hyde Park, NY)
- Mario Batali (Entertainment personality and chef, Food Network star)
- Steve Ells (founder and CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill)
- Emily Luchetti (pastry chef, Farallon)
- Jerry Traunfeld
- Mark Franz (chef at Farallon)
- "Review: Whatever happened to Jeremiah Tower? This film tells all". The Mercury News. 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
- Kim Severson (September 29, 1999). "The rise and fall of a star: How the king of California Cuisine lost an empire". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Jeremiah Tower Sells Part Stake in Stars". San Francisco Chronicle. June 11, 1998.
- Kim Severson (September 29, 1999). "Fernandez to Don the Chef's Toque at New Stars". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Jeremiah Tower, a Forgotten Father of the American Food Revolution". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
- "Steve Ells Profile". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Marlene Parrish, June 04, 2007.
- "Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent". CNN Films. November 12, 2017. CNN.