Grub Street gets the exclusive news today that freeway-adjacent restaurant/banquet hall Russia House (2011 Bayshore Boulevard), home to a distinctly Russian vibe and at least a dozen cell-phone towers on its roof, is closing after more than twenty years. An owner we contacted said they will remain open another four months, give or take, so for those who want to drop some serious dough on vodka bottle service and chicken Kiev, just for the kitschy joy of it, you have a little more time.
There were reports of a For Rent sign on the place early last year, but this is a more imminent and permanent closure for this oh-so-foreign eating destination.
For a while now, the place has been open to the public only on Saturdays, by reservation, and otherwise operates primarily as a banquet hall for the Bay Area Russian community (your Saturday dinner will likely occur in the midst of someone's wedding reception). Stories abound of surly doormen — there's a strictly enforced dress code — mediocre food, and surprise checks that are north of $1,000. KQED's Michael Procopio got a group of friends together for a trip there in 2008, and he gave thumbs up to the beef piroshke and smoked sturgeon. Also, there's always entertainment. "A woman who looked remarkably like Jan Wahl started singing. The lights, mercifully, were dimmed."
The closing date appears to be contingent on how long it takes for the liquor license to transfer to a new owner in a separate location. After that, the vodka shall stop flowing.
Russia House - 2011 Bayshore Boulevard -415-330-9991 - Open Saturday night only.