10 QUESTIONS FOR
MILL VALLE Y
In Marin / CURRENTS
Bill and Tyler Higgins
In 1985, just as Bill Higgins was about to open his first San Francisco restaurant
with partners Bill Upson and Cindy Pawlcyn, he posed with his 1-year-old son,
Tyler, in front of the now world-famous Fog City Diner. Fast-forward 30 years to
find more restaurant launches for Bill, real-world experience and training for the
now grown-up Tyler (who is general manager of the classic
eatery) and a yearlong multimillion-dollar transformation
of Fog City (which dropped “Diner” from the name).
With his son at the helm of his flagship restaurant, Bill keeps busy as
co-owner of Real Restaurants, which includes Bix, Betelnut, Zero Zero,
Tra Vigne, Buckeye Roadhouse, Bungalow 44, Picco and Bar Bocce.
Taking similar paths is nothing new for the father and son, who both
attended the University of Colorado Boulder and completed their
training at the prominent Chicago restaurant group Lettuce Entertain
You, and who both live in Marin. MIMI TO WLE
1How is it working with your son? Short answer, great.
2How is it working with your dad? Our elationship has always been easy and
honest, so working with him is the same as
3Advice on working with family? BH: Be grateful that you have this rare opportunity; show unconditional respect. Find time to
laugh as much as possible and share a beer at
the end of the day.
4Bill, why restaurants? I started in college when I worked at a fraternity
brothers’ sandwich shop. I wasn’t paid, but
I learned the art of a good turkey sandwich.
Despite the slave labor, I was hooked.
5Favorites chefs? BH: It’s hard to answer, since I have so many great friends who
are chefs, including those at Real Restaurants
and my neighbor Tyler Florence, but I’d have
to say it’s always going to be Cindy Pawlcyn;
if it wasn’t for her, none of us would be here.
6Key to running a successful restau- rant? BH: That’s a hard one. Probably
adherence to quality, attention to detail and a
sense of urgency. Repeat daily.
7Any other Marin folks at Fog City? TH: There are a few: Pat Frazier and Dustin
Sullivan, our bartender, who created our
very popular Something with Vodka, Not So
8Highlights of growing up in Mill Valley? TH: Walking to Park School.
And I have great memories of Stinson and
Little League. BH: There’s nothing like the
Mill Valley Memorial Day parade.
9Special occasion restaurant? TH: Every Monday night was Buckeye night — we
sat in the red booth and watched Monday
Night Football. Or we also went to El Rebozo,
a Mexican restaurant, where Fireside is
today. BH: They had crab enchiladas in the
’80s, which was impressive. We also did a
lot of La Ginestra.
10What do you order at Buckeye? Bix? Zero Zero? Bungalow 44?
Picco? Bar Bocce? BH: Buckeye: wood-grilled rib-eye steak. Bix: lobster spaghetti
with jalapeños and basil. Zero Zero:
rigatoni with duck, bacon and chicories.
Bungalow 44: Kobe beef cheeseburger,
truffle fries. Picco: wood-grilled quail with
corn bread stuffing. Bar Bocce: speck, bur-
rata and arugula pizza. M T I M