Owner Jacquetta Lannan, a lawyer by training, took over the space at 415 California Ave. (the former home of Know Knew Books) in September 2013. She said at the time she'd be open in December or January.
But being a first-time owner navigating a notoriously difficult restaurant-opening process, it took much longer. Along the way, Lannan launched a food truck to get her dogs out in the world sooner than the brick-and-mortar would allow.
But now, the restaurant is open (lunch only until the end of the month) and slinging a lineup of high-end hot dogs.
"It feels unreal," Lannan said last Friday, as the restaurant buzzed with diners enjoying a soft opening. "I can't believe it's actually happening now."
Chez Franc owner Jacquetta Lannan in the California Avenue restaurant during a soft opening on Friday, Jan. 9, 2014.
There are nine francs on the opening menu, from the more classic "All-American" (Lannan's take on a chili cheese dog) to the "Fall" franc (all-beef frankfurter, sausage velouté sauce, butternut squash hash, maple mustard, scallion and sage). Dogs range in price from $12 to $15 and come with fries, salad or slaw. Most are all-beef frankfurters, though garlic sausage and bratwurst also make an appearance.
Though the hot dogs are the main event, there are several alternatives: a fried chicken sandwich ($13); vegetarian mushroom and broccoli rabe sandwich with garlic chili oil, burrata, salsa verde and pecorino ($11); Caesar and "winter white" salads (the latter comes with endive, onion, mushroom, fennel, meyer lemon vinaigrette and pecorino).
Three soups are on the menu right now -- chili, vegan winter vegetable and tomato -- though the winter vegetable will soon change, Lannan said (though it will remain a vegan option). Soups are $7 to $9.
Dan Sung, a longtime sous chef at The Village Pub in Woodside, is heading the Chez Franc kitchen.
There's also wine and soda; beer is on its way this week.
Chez Franc will be open for lunch, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., until the end of the month. Lannan plans to add dinner service Tuesdays through Saturdays in February. (Beyond that might be brunch on the weekends -- "phase three," Lannan said.)
"Along the way, there were lots of days when I wanted to throw in the towel and my friends and my husband would say, 'As soon as people start walking in the door, it's all going to be worth it,'" Lannan said. "And they were all right. I am having the time of my life."