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More Fun Details On AQ Restaurant's Upcoming Mission Cafe: Mélange Market

Matt Semelhack shares plans for his future community-driven market and cafe at the ODC Theater, complete with a first look at a rendering of the space.

Mélange Market, rendered.

At the end of last year, news broke that the wunderkinds behind AQ Restaurant, owners Matt Semmelhack and chef Mark Liberman, would be expanding with a new cafe and a new restaurant in 2013. The latter will be called TBD: a campy, casual spot, just next door to AQ that is slated to open "this fall." And today, we have much more to share about Mélange Market, which is going into the ODC Theater building. Start getting acquainted with the pretty little rendering above.
Now, the menu will bear little resemblance to what you find at AQ and the future TBD, save for the fact that it will change quite often. It will include cafe-appropriate sandwiches, salads and such cooked up in the AQ kitchen, and several things from up-and-coming local vendors. "We'll be a champion of sorts for start-up brands that show a lot of promise," adds Semmelhack. Charcuterie and cheese will come from AQ's deep list of vendors. Fresh smoothies will include anything-but-ordinary ingredients they've got laying around, such as dragonfruit and jícama. And the all-day menu will be divided into sections, geared towards foods that go with coffee or tea in the morning, or wine and beer throughout the rest of the day. "We're really just a quick and casual place where people can stop in for a meal to-go on the way to a show, grab a pastry and coffee in the morning, or sit for a bit with some wine and cheese." Outside vendors on-tap so far are Oakland's Firebrand Bread and Three Babes Bakeshop pies, with many more to be added as the opening nears.

Speaking of the opening, it won't be happening in "early 2013," as previously anticipated. Because the building is a historic one, the Planning Department is going to take longer to approve things. Semmelhack guesstimates they'll be open in "six to nine months." In the meantime, they'll be fine-tuning the "rustic and farmy," yet "modern" design you see above, and beefing up the Mélange website with profiles of all the vendors they'll be working with. "We want the website to be an online reflection of our connection to the community," says Semmelhack. "Then when you come into Mélange you will be able to feel a certain culture built around the people we work with." He adds that they're going for a warm cafe feel that's somewhere between the homeyness of Tartine and the "gallery of food" vibe you get at Craftsman & Wolves. Stay tuned for more on the opening as the owners work through the city's red tape.

Mélange Market: 3153 17th Street; odctheater.org

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