SAN FRANCISCO—The manager of a popular bar located in the Russian Hill neighborhood, Ilya Romanov, fell to his death on Friday, December 30, at the age of 33. 

Romanov was found on the 2300 block of Polk Street around 11:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene. According to the SFPD, he accidentally fell off a roof and no foul play is suspected. 

He was a Russian immigrant who moved to America at the age of 17 and was involved in the culinary arts since 16. He attended culinary school at Cabrillo College in Aptos and decided to drop out. In 2014, he relocated to San Francisco to learn bartending. 

He landed his first bartending job at The Battery and moved to The Dorian. While at The Dorian, he developed his craft and expanded the bar’s menu. By 2021, Romanov and Chef David Yoshimura of Nisei opened Bar Iris where he drew inspiration from Japanese culture and cuisine. He oversaw the construction, design details, selected the glasses, developed the cocktail menu, and trained the staff. 

One of his most notable drinks was a cocktail featuring purple Okinawan sweet potato. According to reports, some of his cocktails would take extreme effort and hours to make. “I wanted to highlight not just using Japanese ingredients but the mindset,” Romanov told the SFEater in 2021.

By November 2022, he was named a “rising star” by StarChefs. He was described as “fiercely loyal, reliable, thoughtful, and one of a kind,” by those closest to him. He is survived by his 3 year-old son Erza and his wife, Maya.