Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Natural Skincare Products -- From Hippie to Hip : Meet Julie Kim of Saison Beauty

Julie Kim of Saison Beauty in Dogpatch makes natural beauty products based on ingredients from the four seasons. 
Natural skincare and beauty products have long had more of a hippie than hip image with products found in the aisles of the local Whole Foods or natural health food stores instead of in department stores or chic salons and boutiques.  But in the last decade and especially in the last few years natural skincare lines have grown from a niche market into a rapidly growing full-blown industry. And many of those companies striving to bring natural and safe skincare products free of preservatives and using high quality plant extracts to market are located in Northern California including 100% Pure, EO, Juice Beauty and now Saison Beauty located in Dogpatch.

Saison (pronounced say sawn) is French for season and the changing seasons and how each season can affect our skin was the inspiration for Saison Beauty founder Julie Kim's product line. Her products are categorized not only by the seasons, but also by skin type and product type to make it easier for customers to find the best fit for their skincare needs.  And Kim doesn't just offer products to purchase on her website -- she also offers beauty bonus tips and DIY beauty recipes (pumpkin ginger face mask sounds delicious!).

Why do you do what you do?

I love the challenge of experimenting with ingredients to formulate products.  Then to actually produce the product and be able to offer it to someone to solve a skincare need is such a joy for me.

I always knew that I wanted to start my own business but I didn't know what that business would be. I was born in Korea but came to California as a baby.  I grew up in Southern California and went to college in San Diego where I eventually studied communications. I was particularly interested in international studies.

Saison Beauty Seasonal Body Lotion is manufactured by Julie Kim in Dogpatch, San Francisco, CA

My first job while in high school was for a trendy hair salon. That was my first taste of the beauty world.  They had a talented makeup artist there as well as the hair stylists.  I loved it!  My first job out of college was in London for a PR agency that specialized in beauty.  I learned to work with models and editors and had the opportunity to work with beauty brands that were just starting to be available in Europe such as Shu Uemura and Aveda.  Aveda was one of the first companies to focus on the importance of what was in their products.  One of my projects I worked on was a program for departments stores to train their cosmetic department employees how to apply makeup on different skin types.  That is common now but was cutting edge then in the 1990s.

I left after nine months -- I felt that I had to decide if my future was in Europe or the U.S. so I chose to come back home.  Back in Los Angeles, tech was all the rage so I dove into the tech world and worked as an account manager at an agency.  I decided I wanted to broaden my skills beyond public relations so I moved to Northern California to pursue an MBA at USF.  I also worked full time while pursuing my MBA at NEC Electronics where I worked as a branding specialist.  While there I learned a lot about international product launches which lined up nicely with my goals to get more experience in international business.

After graduation I worked at Gap Inc. where I helped build their e-commerce business for all of their brands --- Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy. I learned so much about digital marketing, product fulfillment, SEO and so much more. I really was fortunate to learn the ins and outs of retail at a complex level.

I like to think that my career choices have always been very deliberate with my goal of owning my own business very much my priority.  As such, my career path hasn't always been about my next promotion but more about what new skills I could acquire that might some day help me in my own venture.

While working at the Gap, I started craving a  more holistic approach to my lifestyle.  All that traveling for work, long hours and just the aging process had started to take a toll. I decided to get healthy.

I experimented with diet and exercise as well as what the skincare and beauty products I used were doing to my body.  I always felt that skincare products are another way that we "feed" our bodies.  In fact, skin can absorb up to 60 percent of what we apply to it.  We eat seasonally and I think we should think of skincare in the same way. I look back at my work with Aveda and I think the seeds were planted then in my mind that skincare products should do no harm. My mom worked on cosmetic formulations in Korea so she understood my passion.  Much of my mother and grandmother's beauty rituals were holistic so perhaps I come by the science and beauty combination naturally!

I started taking classes after work and on weekends about how to formulate products.  It started out as just a hobby. I loved creating a database of herbal properties and figuring out how to solve various skincare issues using them.  My brother-in-law is a doctor and he was very patient with me as I asked him tons of questions about various skin issues.

I started making products and worked with a third-party lab to verify my results and to make sure the products were safe.  It took three years of nights and weekends to create the product line. The green beauty community is a close knit group and everyone has been so supportive and helpful.

By 2015 I was ready to quit my position at the Gap.  My products and website were ready so it was time to launch! The first year was all about testing and learning. The second year about sales and how to get the products on shelves in boutiques and to learn about wholesaling and year three might be about hiring my first employees.

Why Dogpatch?

I had to find a place that would allow me to formulate and package my products. There aren't too many places that allow that in San Francisco.  Thankfully the American Industrial Center (AIC) does! On Craigslist I saw a listing for someone who wanted to share their office space in the AIC.  They were a food business so they had the perfect space for me to start out in.  A space by myself on the second floor soon followed and then nine months ago this space became available.  I love the natural light and the views from this office.

The creativity, energy and sense of community in the AIC and in the neighborhood is just incredible. I love being part of the maker community which is thriving in Dogpatch. And I'm certainly eating my way around the neighborhood!

Sometimes I miss the social aspect that being part of a large company gives you but I find the AIC gives me that connection to a larger community.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

My goal is to have a balanced, independent and creative life and Saison Beauty gives me all of that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Not Afraid of A Sticky Wicket: Meet Alan Ashworth of UCSF Cancer Center

Dogpatch resident Alan Ashworth stands in the UCSF Mission Bay lab he heads in his fight against cancer. 
The immense growth of UCSF in Mission Bay has been a cause of great concern for Dogpatch residents as neighborhood leaders and residents grapple with such issues as the encroachment of the campus into the Dogpatch neighborhood, parking problems and the unsightly cigarette butts left on Dogpatch streets by UCSF staff who are not allowed to smoke on the 100% smoke-free campus.

But of course UCSF is neither all bad nor all good and the access to a top medical facility and the best researchers and doctors benefits so many people locally and world-wide.

In the interest of building bridges instead of walls, we sat down with Alan Ashworth, president of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center who also happens to be a Dogpatch resident.

Ashworth, who joined UCSF in December of 2014, is probably best known as part of the team of scientists who in 1995 discovered the gene BRCA2 which is linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer -- for xample, breast cancer -- and is now used to identify women at high risk for the disease.   In 2005 he identified a way to exploit genetic weaknesses in cancer cells which led to a new approach in cancer treatments.

Although he is a scientist and not a surgeon, Ashworth demonstrates a real talent for identifying and tackling difficult health care issues and with surgical like precision, zeroing in on how to solve the problem by finding the right people and the needed funding to help overcome any obstacles to the solution.  One example is the recently announced San Francisco Cancer Initiative (SF CAN), a major public health effort to reduce cancer in San Francisco.

We met with Ashworth in his UCSF office one very rainy day.  But our complaints about the rain were met with a laugh from Ashworth who in his British accent said that where he grew up in Northern England they had 200 different words for rain and what we were experiencing barely qualified as rain. He seemed very glad to not have to use those 200 words anymore.
Petri dishes in the UCSF cancer lab headed by Alan Ashworth.

Why do you do what you do?
The feeling you get when you meet someone who survived because of a treatment you discovered is pretty great. To know that you impacted someone's life in that way is incredibly moving and motivating.  I want to keep doing that kind of work.

So my work experience motivates me but also personal experience motivates me.  My dad died of lung cancer several years ago. He told me not to go to the doctor appointment with him where his treatment was going to be discussed.  Of course I went with him.  And of course my dad was in such shock that he heard practically nothing that the doctor said that day. It is so important to have someone help you through a cancer diagnosis.  People are afraid and they also fear the lack of control over their life that comes with a cancer diagnosis.  I knew everyone in cancer research and I couldn't do anything to save him. My dad died but I know today we could get him into an immunotherapy drug trial and he would have had a chance of survival.

I grew up in Northern England in a post-industrial textile town.  My mom still lives there.  It was a working class town but the schools were good. I was the first person in my extended family to go to university.  I attended Imperial College of Science and Technology in London. I thought I would go into medicine but I chose chemistry instead.  I received my PhD in Biochemistry at University College, London.  I joined the Institute for Cancer Research in London as a researcher and eventually became CEO.

Then UCSF called me about being the director of their cancer center.

No one was more surprised than me when I accepted.  It took me a long time to decide and I still didn't know what my answer would be when UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood called to ask me for my decision.

In the end the decision came down to asking myself "Why Not?" The Bay Area, San Francisco, UCSF -- this is the universe for innovation and excitement in cancer research and patient care. There is a feeling that anything is possible here.  And that has turned out to be more true than I even thought it would be. I have never regretted my decision.

I'm proud of the fact that UCSF is a public organization and as such we have to see everyone.  Our goal is long-term remission or cure.  But the goal is also treatments that give a better quality of life -- more gentle treatments.

One of my projects is the building of the Precision Cancer Medical Building which will be located at Third and 16 Street.  It should open to patients in 2019.  This 170,000 square foot cancer outpatient clinic will be like no other.  This clinic is my baby. The center will deliver the best possible treatment for cancer and this clinic will be very patient centric. Patients will be treated like they matter. We want people to feel in control of their treatment and involved in the decision making. Even the design of the building will be created with the patient in mind with natural light, related treatment rooms in one area instead of spread out all over the facility so patients have to race from one floor to another for appointments. I would rather lose efficiency than patient focus.

One of my other projects is SF CAN -- the San Francisco Cancer Initiative.  This program aims to reduce cancer in SF that can be reduced by better screening and early interventions. My second week here I had a germ of the idea for this program.  I went to a retreat which ended up being about the issue of race in medicine and health.  I found the topic fascinating.  There was so much I didn't know. I had no idea that there was such big disparities. I wondered how a program could be put together for an entire community -- the San Francisco community. The idea is completely measurable and we want it to be. It took 18 months but we launched the program in November. SF is where people come together to do big things like the work done to fight HIV. The idea is that UCSF will provide the scientific backbone while city public health and nonprofit agencies supply the staff and physical space to reach at risk populations. And it is a real partnership with the SF community. Our logo isn't even on the marketing materials.

As you can see, my work reflects my passion for the development of personalized cancer treatment.

Why Dogpatch?
We were introduced to real estate agent Anne Herrera -- she works with a lot of UCSF people who are trying to find a home to buy.  She was so honest and helpful about the process of buying in the San Francisco real estate market where there is little inventory and prices are high.

We looked at many neighborhoods in SF and while many of them, were beautiful we were looking for a more diverse neighborhood.  We also wanted to live close to Mission Bay where my office is but not too close!

I had arrived in the U.S. before my wife so I got the chance to wander around Dogpatch a bit.  I thought it was quite nice.  I liked the diversity I saw and it felt like a real neighborhood with all the shops and restaurants. We weren't sure we could afford to look here but with Anne's help we were able to find a small condo to buy which just happens to be on the same street as where Anne lives. So she definitely knew the neighborhood!

We enjoy walking around the neighborhood and being greeted by neighbors.  It is very different from our London neighborhood where you really didn't get to know anyone because people didn't stay too long there. And of course the proximity to Mission Bay was perfect.

We have settled in nicely although you can't find much cricket here.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
There is nothing I enjoy more than the work I am doing.  It is serious work but that work is helping people in a big way.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

"A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody": Meet Kafi Payne of Dogpatch Dance & Yoga

Kafi Payne of Dogpatch Dance and Yoga in her studio in Dogpatch. Kafi's studio has classes in many diverse programs like roller dance, twerk and Bollywood. 
When prominent San Francisco industrialist Claus Spreckles built his California Sugar Refinery along what is now 23rd Street along the waterfront in 1881 -- we are certain he never dreamed that one day one of the last two remaining sugar warehouses would be home to a dance studio.

Especially a studio that offers unusual ways to get you moving including such classes as After Work Twerk, Dance Hall, Roller Dancing, Heels (dance in your high heels!), Burlesque, Bollywood dancing and so much more.  Yet that is what you will find at Dogpatch Dance & Yoga now opened for business on the second floor of the building now known as Storage San Francisco at 435 23rd Street.

And what a gem of a space it is.  The 3,500 square foot space now outfitted with full-length mirrors is full of light and has an amazing view of the bay.  Owner Kafi Payne opened the studio in August 2016 and her goal is for the studio to be busy morning to night.  Sounds like a sweet plan to us.

Why do you do what you do?

I find joy in movement and that is what I want for everyone.  I think dance is healing.

We have busy lives. We grow up, we go to school and we work. And work! We may love the work but not the working.  And then we come home and we have family responsibilities.

When I was a kid there wasn't much money for dance classes so I took dance classes whenever I could.  I never really thought of myself as a dancer.  It was just something I loved to do. After college I took all kinds of dance classes as a way to relax after a long day at work.  I also took yoga classes -- I think yoga helps dancers be able to dance longer!  I eventually trained with Annie Carpenter to become a Yoga instructor.

I'm from the Caribbean but grew up in New York and Atlanta.  I met my husband who is from the Bay Area at college -- Emory University.  We moved to this area after college.  We both became educators.  I worked for the Oakland School District training teachers and also as a Spanish teacher. And I still work in the education field.  I also received my Masters in Education from SFSU and I'm working on my Doctor of Education from Berkeley.  I know what learning looks like!

I have two young boys and one day one of my sons asked me if I could do anything I wanted to do what would that be.  I told him I wanted to open a dance studio!  He was surprised.  My kids thought of me as serious -- they even said that I never laughed. That is NOT how I wanted to be remembered by them!

My kids are so proud that I'm realizing my dream.  I love showing them that you can work towards a goal and make it happen.

The studio is still a work in progress of course.  When I decided to open the studio I asked several of the dance instructors that I knew if they would join me.  They agreed but then dropped out when the studio became a reality.  That forced me to step out of my comfort zone and approach instructors I admired but didn't know. That experience also reminded me that is ok to ask for help.  We should all remember that!

I love being able to work with these amazing instructors and help them realize their artistic vision as well.  Instructors such as Richard Humphrey who is known as the father of Rollerdance and who taught Dr. Oz to roller dance is teaching at my studio!  A good teacher is everything and we have the best.


Why Dogpatch?

After I decided to open a studio I did my research about the best location for it.  I live and work in Oakland but it seemed to me that Oakland was saturated with dance and performance spaces.

Not San Francisco -- I was amazed how few dance studios there are in SF.  There are places where you can rent space for dance groups but not that many places where you can book a class.

I saw a listing for this space on Craigslist and it was the first spot I looked at and I knew it would be perfect.  I just knew that dancing needed to happen here.  I knew that Beyonce would be ok rehearsing here!

I met and spoke with many community leaders in Dogpatch.  Everyone was so welcoming and I felt like they wanted me to be successful and would help me in any way that they could to make that happen.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

I will always be dancing and teaching!

*thanks to Beyonce for the lyric: "A little sweat ain't never hurt nobody"

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

From Seed to Sale: Meet Robert Watson of Dutchman's Flat

Robert Watson founded Dutchman's Flat medical cannabis dispensary in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood. His clean comfortable space offers a wealth of knowledge to buyers. 
We hadn't yet checked out Dutchman's Flat -- the medical cannabis dispensary -- recently opened on Third Street (across from Smokestack Restaurant -- how fitting) so when neighbor Susan Eslick introduced us to owner Robert Watson as he left Reno's one evening, we were quick to ask him if we could stop by to chat and check out his new spot.  After all, with the guard at their front door it wasn't exactly a place you could just stroll into without the appropriate paperwork.

We didn't know what to expect but the modern, airy brick loft space that looked like a loft in the Esprit Building or a hip retail space in Jackson Square was a bit of a surprise.  But then again, so was Robert Watson.  Then I realized that I hadn't exactly ever interviewed anyone in the cannabis industry -- well, not one who actually was licensed by the city of San Francisco to open a legal business dispensing cannabis so all expectations promptly went up in smoke (sorry).

What we discovered was that cannabis has a lot in common with other artisan businesses like the wine, chocolate or coffee industries with similar rituals and nuances.  And we discovered that Robert Watson is a farmer at heart.

Why do you do what you do?

Most of what I have done in my life all come together in this business.  My engineering, farming and art background made it possible.  I enjoy figuring out how to to breed different strains to help with different medical conditions.  That is the farming and engineering part and the art part is presenting something I made to the public.

I grew up in Modesto in farm country -- many of my relatives were farmers.  My grandparents had a dairy farm and a cousin had an organic walnut farm.  Many of my summers and after school time was spent working on the farms.  At home, my mom had my siblings and I plant and tend a salsa garden. Later I realized that many of the salsa garden plants had the same growing season and soil pH as cannabis! My mom taught me how to make fish fertilizer which I hated doing as a kid but that knowledge ended up being very useful to me later.

My dad was a contractor and I also helped him out doing construction work -- working with his badass workers certainly toughened me up.

I wanted out of Modesto so went to UC San Diego for college.  I wanted to study something that was as completely different from farming as possible so I picked the visual arts. My parents weren't too thrilled about me studying something that they couldn't see would lead to a job.

I had injured my back from the construction work and it only got worse while I was in college.  My doctor had me on Vicodin and other pain medication but nothing worked to alleviate the pain and I didn't like the side effects.  This was in 1998 and at that time most medical doctors wouldn't give you a prescription for medical marijuana so I decided to grow my own.  California had passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996 (Proposition 215) so I could legally grow it for my own medical use and for others who were part of my collective.

I roomed with a chemical, bio and electrical engineer and I was an art major and together we nerded out on how to grow it in our apartment and on plant genetics and what medical conditions each type of plant would work well for.  I would go to a local plant nursery to learn about soil -- I loved the smell -- it smelled like home.  I spent tons of time with a local hydroponic gardener asking him all kinds of questions about how to grow my "tomatoes."  He mainly grew orchids and he answered my questions and spent a lot of time with me even though I didn't have any money to buy anything from him.  He probably knew why I was asking so many questions but he never asked me details!  I had my hydroponic garden in my closet -- half the plants died and my girlfriend wasn't too thrilled about the situation.

I moved back to Modesto after graduation and worked with my dad who had changed careers and was now a real estate appraiser.  I knew my mom wouldn't approve of my hydroponic garden so my brother and I set it up in a crawl space in our house.  Unfortunately our dog kept following us and gave us away! My cousin let me set it up on his walnut farm.

Led Zeppelin III is one of many vinyl LPs that entertain customers at Dutchman's Flat Medical Cannabis Dispensary in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood.
I decided I was interested in criminal law so I interned at a law firm in Modesto with the idea of going to law school.  It was exciting -- I was in court every day. I moved to San Francisco and got a job as a part-time law assistant and a job as a part-time building engineer.  I quickly learned that not all lawyers spend time in court but mostly behind their desks.  That wasn't for me so I went full time working with a guy named Donald as a building engineer.  So my life then consisted of watching Latin soap operas with Donald, fixing things in the building and cultivating my garden in my apartment.

I then went to work with a commercial contractor as a project engineer. I was there for about five years.  One of the building managers we worked with wanted to get their multi-tenant building LEED certified and I volunteered our company to figure it out for them -- much to the dismay of the owner. It was extremely complicated and I learned a ton but we successfully got them LEED certified.

I then went to work for Lynn Simon -- she founded Simon & Associates (now called Thornton Tomasetti) one of the first sustainable engineering firms in SF.  I was there for seven years and I actually just left there three months ago. I loved it and learned so much there.

Meanwhile, I was still cultivating my plants.  I was gaining more and more plant knowledge now that I was in SF and had access to cannabis clubs where I could buy plants and experiment.  In 2004, California passed SB420 further clarifying the regulations for medical marijuana.  I really wanted to participate in cannabis competitions like the Cannabis Cup and you have to own a dispensary to participate.

I would go to Amsterdam every three years or so to gain more plant and technical experience.  I rented five acres in Sonoma from a farmer and built a greenhouse to increase my production.  We also have production in SF.

I finally reached the point where my back was getting worse and I needed a job where I wasn't sitting down all day.  I worked on opening Dutchman Flats while I was still at my full time job and about three months ago made this my full time job. Sean Devlin is my business partner and given his experience in managing restaurants and bars -- operates as the front of the house manager.  I'm more comfortable with the details of growing the plants and he is much better at customer relations!

We grow everything we sell -- seed to sale. All of our staff is well versed in what to recommend to customers with various medical conditions.

I'm looking forward to the cannabis competitions but also to offering courses in sustainable gardening to the public. Now that we have been open for a few months we know what the community likes and we are working on a special strain for Dogpatch that might be called Dogpatch Haze.

Why Dogpatch?

We looked for two years for just the right spot.  I had gone to college with two of the owners of the Dogpatch Saloon and they encouraged me to look at Dogpatch. They said it was an amazing and supportive community.  I already knew about Dogpatch from my trek from my Sunset neighborhood to Serpentine for their burger and had spent more time in the neighborhood since the Dogpatch Saloon opened.  

The owners of this building are the people behind N.I.C.E Collective.  They had used the space for their clothing business but they had decided to open a retail spot across the street in the American Industrial Center.

I really appreciated how organized the neighborhood association was and how upfront they were about what they needed and expected from our business. We knew there would be concerns about a business like ours opening in the neighborhood so we spoke at the Dogpatch Neighborhood Association, held open houses and addressed all the neighbor concerns that came our way.  

So many of the other business owners have been supportive and given us guidance on how to open a business in the neighborhood.  We tried to use as many local resources as possible -- we were fortunate that the folks from Lundberg Design just down the street agreed to work with us as did others in the community. 

The winning coin from the Flip that won the name Dutchman's Flat is in the bathroom floor at the Cannabis Dispensary in Dogpatch.
What's with the name -- Dutchman's Flat?

Our original choice for a business name was Dogpatch Collective but our landlords, N.I.C.E Collective, thought it was too similar to their business name and that it might be confusing.  When we found out that another nickname for Dogpatch is Dutchman's Flat we couldn't believe it.  I couldn't type fast enough to check if that name had been registered with the city.  I was so excited when it wasn't taken given the connection to Amsterdam because much the inspiration for our shop comes from the Amsterdam Coffeehouses (AKA Cannabis Clubs) as well as so much of our technical and agricultural knowledge.

Unfortunately, even though it wasn't registered there was another person who had started the registration process but hadn't finished it.  They contacted me and we agreed to flip a coin for the name.  We met at the Dogpatch Saloon and we agreed to flip a coin just one time to decide who would get to use the name.  Well, I won but then they asked me to flip again -- I won -- they asked again -- I won.  I won all of them -- tails won!

If you look in our bathroom you will notice that we have tiled the floor using pennies except for one coin -- the winning coin and it is tails up!

Much of the design is inspired by Amsterdam.  The big sliding door bears three vertical crosses honoring the Coat of Arms of Amsterdam.  Touches of the color orange -- the color of the Dutch Royal Family -- is used throughout the space and our logo is a boat.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

If it hadn't been so hard on my back to sit all day I would have stayed at my last job. Great people and I loved the work.  Great view of Alcatraz from the office!  So I would have stayed there and I most likely would have pursued a degree in Environmental Engineering.




Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I'm Hungry -- Let's Have a Drink: Cocktails from our Favorite Dogpatch Drinking Establishments

Veronica Nye of Dogpatch Saloon Creates The Illinios and 22nd Cocktail. It's one of four Dogpatch Cocktails featured in this indogpatch post.
When we aren't photographing and asking our indogpatch interview subjects "Why do you do what you do?"  We like to kick back and relax at several of our favorite Dogpatch drinking establishments.

We have learned a lot of cocktail tricks from three of the best bars in the neighborhood.  We decided to ask our favorite bartenders at each establishment to create a drink specifically for the Dogpatch neighborhood.  Here are their drinks and the backstory -- in their own words --  for each one.  Feel free to mix one up at home or head on over to their establish to have them mix it for you.  Either way -- sip and enjoy.

The Illinois & 22nd

Drinking Establishment:  
Dogpatch Saloon

Bartender:  
Veronica Nye

Drink:  
Illinois & 22nd
The Illinois & 22nd Cocktail by Veronica Nye of Dogpatch Saloon features Sutton Cellars Vermouth and Cucumber for a refreshing drink to share with friends at Dogpatch's friendliest watering hole.

The Recipe:
2oz Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth, 
6-8 slices of a small cucumber
.50 oz Inna Jam Meyer Lemon Shrub
.25 oz Mandarin Napoleon orange liqueur
2 dashes Seven Stills Cocktail Blood Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Put all ingredients except the ginger beer in a cocktail tin, add ice and a couple of light shakes, pour into a Collins glass that already has the ginger beer in the bottom.  

The Backstory:
When this drink came to mind I was reminiscing about the times I've spent with friends, in my many years in both Texas and New York, sitting outside talking, drinking, laughing. In that spirit, I wanted a nice afternoon cocktail or punch that would be fun and wouldn't hurt if one were to accidentally consume three or four. All of the fun I've had living and working in the Dogpatch the last 4 1/2 years came to mind, especially at Sutton Cellars drinking wine and some of Carl Sutton's awesome concoctions. So, I decided to put together a cocktail using Sutton Cellars vermouth, which I really love. Serendipitously the day I began testing the cocktail, Carl Sutton stopped by the bar and acted as Guinea pig. Now, I've got a cocktail I'd enjoy drinking with friends at a backyard bbq in Austin, on a stoop in Brooklyn, or a street corner in Dogpatch. 

The Dogpatch Porch Sipper

Drinking Establishment:  
Serpentine 

Bartender:  
David DeRinzy

Drink:  
Dogpatch Porch Sipper

The Dogpatch Porch Sipper Cocktail by Serpentine's David DeRinzy uses his own Ginger Root Syrup to create this drink which ties San Francisco and New Orleans together.

The Recipe:
1 oz. Purely Syrup Ginger Root
1 0z. fresh Lemon Juice
3 dashes Peach Bitters


Shake all ingredients in a cocktail tin for 10-12 seconds, double strain over fresh ice in cocktail tumbler, garnish with aged Maraschino Cherry.
David DeRinzy of Serpentine Makes a Dogpatch Porch Sipper that reminds him of New Orleans and Dogpatch in one cocktail.

The Backstory:
This drink was inspired by my recent trip to New Orleans for the annual Tales of the Cocktail event. New Orleans reminds me a lot of San Francisco.  Both New Orleans and San Francisco are foodie and cocktail towns and the Dogpatch neighborhood also has the distinction of being one of the few sunny neighborhoods in San Francisco.  So sit back on whatever goes for a porch for you and enjoy a Dogpatch Porch Sipper.

Editor's Note:  In addition to being the bar manager at Serpentine, David is a partner in Purely Syrup -- a line of certified organic simple syrups.  He uses the Ginger Root Purely Syrup in this recipe.

The 601

Drinking Establishment:  
Third Rail

Bartender:  
Jeff Lyon

Drink:  
The 601
Jeff Lyon of Third Rail makes his cocktail called The 601 at the popular Dogpatch Cocktail Bar that is also known for its gourmet jerky.

The Recipe:
1.5 oz. Sutton Cellars Brown Label Vermouth
1 oz. Aperol 
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Four Roses bourbon 
Seltzer
Rosemary

Shake in a cocktail tin and pour into a Collins glass over ice.
Top with seltzer and garnish with rosemary.

The 601 Cocktail from Third Rail Owner Jeff Lyon gets its name from the address of Sutton Cellars maker of the Vermouth used in the drink.

The Backstory:
The name is taken from Sutton Cellars' address  -- 601 22nd Street -- and it reflects the neighborhood because it features Carl's vermouth so prominently. 

The Photographer

BONUS DRINK!

Drinking Establishment:
The Kline Home in Dogpatch

Bartender:
Scott R. Kline

The Drink:
The Photographer (Blonde Rum Negroni)


The cocktail called The Photographer could best be described as a Blonde Rum Negroni.

The Recipe:
2 oz. Flor de Cana 4-Year White Rum
3/4 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
3/4 oz. Cocchi Americano Blanco
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Lemon slice

Stir in a glass beaker with ice and strain into a coupe. The vintage coupe pictured is from The Industrious Life shop located in Dogpatch. Garnish with lemon.
Dogpatch resident and photographer Scott R. Kline puts the finishing touches on his creation, The Photographer.

The Backstory:
Hanging out with the bartenders in Dogpatch and talking cocktails is a great experience. In talking to the professional cocktail craftsman in the neighborhood, I learned that a lot of drinks are created by substituting elements.  Having loved the Negroni and liking rum a lot, I tried a Negroni with rum. The Campari overpowered the rum, so I substituted Cocchi Americano. Red vermouth was too sweet, so I substituted Dolin Blanc, a somewhat sweet white vermouth. The resulting blonde color and mild sweetness resulted in a very balanced drink I called the Blonde Rum Negroni. When I shared the recipe with David DeRinzy of Serpentine, it was re-dubbed "The Photographer".



Editor's Note:  the title of our post is inspired by one of our favorite lines from the 1936 movie, After The Thin Man.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Where Hospitality is Top Priority: Meet Jason Alonzo, Jordan Keao and Cheryl Liew of ‘āina


The owners of ‘āina in Dogpatch created an innovative Hawaiian themed menu of food and drink. They include Cheryl Liew, Jason Alonzo and Jordan Keao (Standing).
A change in ownership or concept in the restaurant business is not unusual but we were sad to see Joshua Shertz's hard fought efforts to convert his Cup of Blues cafe into Ensoleille Restaurant not work out after only a few months.

When the official SF notification of a change in owners was posted on the closed restaurant door in September 2015, we were excited to learn more about their plans.  The corner of 22nd and Minnesota is such a prime spot in Dogpatch that it seemed a waste not to have a business there.

Cheryl Liew, Jordan Keao and Jason Alonzo might be the new tenants but they are not new to the restaurant business.  They were the force behind the pop-up, ‘āina (ainasf.com), the weekend-only Hawaiian inspired brunch spot that had a successful but short run in the Bernal Heights neighborhood.  ‘āina was so successful they decided to shut down and put their efforts behind searching for a permanent spot -- they couldn't stand having to turn people away. Their dream was to have a restaurant that could be open for both brunch and dinner for more than two days at a time.

The offering at ‘āina includes Kalua Pork Belly (front),  Kalbi Loco Moco and Breakfast potatoes.
To say the last few months has been a whirlwind for them would be an understatement -- not only did they find the restaurant space, work through the usual SF red tape, and then build out the restaurant doing much of the work themselves, they did it while holding down full-time jobs. In addition, married couple Liew and Keao who already have one young child, welcomed their second child to the world.

Life isn't slowing down since they opened their doors to the hungry public in April -- the sidewalk in front of their restaurant is frequently crowded with folks hoping to get one of the tables that they keep open for walk-ins. (neighborhood tip -- early spots during the week are often available without a wait).  The ‘āina team hopes to start dinner service in the Fall and also has a few other creative ideas they are working on to make sure we all have our fill of malasadas and more.

We have dined at ‘āina numerous times and were impressed not only with the food and innovative bar program, but also by the warmth of everyone there.  They genuinely seemed like they were having a good time amid the chaos of a busy restaurant.  We often felt like they would sit down and join us for a leisurely chat despite the evidence of a packed restaurant and a line out the door that would prevent such an act. True hospitality seems to fuel the ‘āina experience.

Jordan Keao, Chef and Owner
Why do you do what you do?

I love the instant gratification I get when I see that a customer has been changed by something that we have done -- by creating this great meal and experience for them.  When we see a customer's smile then we get to see the real benefits of what we do -- why we work so many hours. When a customer is enjoying themselves in a space we created with food we created that is a powerful thing to us.

I grew up in Hawaii but moved to Boston when I was 13.  You might say I'm a balance of city and country.  I returned to Hawaii when I was 18.  I did a lot of fishing and thinking and decided to focus on becoming a chef.  I went to culinary school in San Diego -- it was a more affordable place to live while going to school.  The goal was always to move to the SF Bay area.  I wanted to be part of what was happening in the food and restaurant scene here.  After culinary school I moved to this area -- to the East Bay where I helped to open a sushi restaurant.  From there I dove into a more serious food and restaurant environment when I joined La Folie.  I was there for three years where I learned to prepare high quality food in a fast paced environment.  That's where I met Jason Alonzo who was in charge of the bar program there.
Don't miss the Malasadas - Portuguese style donuts - filled with guava custard at ‘āina in Dogpatch.

I then joined a restaurant management group who managed the food service for Google.  I learned so much there -- I realized that there are many different skill sets needed in the restaurant world in addition to having a great chef.  Marketing, finance and more are needed to run and manage a large team.

Eventually I left Google for Airbnb -- we had a newborn and the commute from where we lived in SF to Google became just too much. I was still interested in working with a technology company but wanted to work with a smaller company so that I could really be involved in building and growing their food program.  I really liked that Airbnb didn't contract out their food program but made it part of their company culture.

While at Airbnb we got the idea to do a brunch pop up on the weekends.  Jason and I had always talked about doing a side project together.

We called our project, ‘āina, which is a Hawaiian word which means "the land that feeds us." The name reflects how we approach our work.  To be mindful and to take just what you need.

From the start the project felt right -- we weren't forcing it to come together.  Cheryl heard about a pop up Ramen spot in the Bernal Heights neighborhood that was open Monday-Friday and they were interested in letting us do our project on the weekends.  It was a lot of fun but a lot of work.  Social media and word-of-mouth made it a success but ultimately we just didn't have time for it so we closed.

We realized that we might as well have a full time restaurant than only a part-time pop-up.  We all agreed on our direction and we all trusted each other.

Cheryl Liew, CFO and Owner
Why do you do what you do?

Well, keep in mind that I work full-time at a recruiting firm and love my work there.  I wanted to support Jordan's dream of owning a restaurant.  I look at the three of us as being the three pillars that will make ‘āina a success -- management, creative bar program and amazing food.  It all comes together in our desire to provide a great experience for our customers.

I have always been a major foodie.  I was born in the U.K. but grew up in Singapore which is a food obsessed country.  Jordan and I first met as foodie friends -- we wanted to try all that the SF Bay Area had to offer.  I went to school for economics and my original goal was to work for the World Health Organization or for the U.N.  I thought I could use my expertise in economics to help developing countries.  I did an internship at an investment banking firm in Singapore.  It was intense but I loved it although I knew I didn't want to do that type of work long term.  I then worked in media including stints at CNBC and ESPN.  All of this experience led me to the recruiting industry -- I love the combination of finance and psychology.  I so enjoy hearing other people's stories.  I moved to SF in 2010 and started working in recruiting for technology positions. Jordan and I were married in 2012.

I knew he wanted to start a restaurant some day.  I met the chef of a Ramen restaurant in Bernal Heights and that's how we found our weekend spot for ‘āina.  At ‘āina I was the server, the host, whatever they needed me to be and almost always with our son strapped on my back!

We started looking around for a full-time space and a friend who lives in Dogpatch told us about Ensoleille and Joshua.  It all started to come together after that.

Jason Alonzo of ‘āina mixes up a great menu of brunch cocktails at the Dogpatch restaurant.

Jason Alonzo, General Manager, Owner
Why do you do what you do?

I like making people happy.  Hospitality is our top priority.  To me, food is love.

I grew up in Boston but didn't meet Jordan there although it turned out that we had friends in common.  We had an immediate trust with each other when we met at La Folie.

I started in the beverage business in Boston when I was 19.  I was a bar back and learned the old school ways.  I then became bar manager.  I also worked at the Liberty Hotel where the chef there, Joseph Margate, was amazing -- he was doing California inspired food in Boston.  I became interested in creating specialty cocktails to complement  the food we were serving and to even use in the drink program some of the same ingredients that the kitchen was using to create their dinner menu.

Boston is a good place to be from but I always felt that I was born on the wrong coast. I had thought about moving to Southern California but moved to San Francisco when my then girlfriend decided to attend the Academy of Art.  I moved here in 2011 and went to work for La Folie.

I took over the bar manager program at La Folie.  I felt strongly that what the chef is doing with ingredients should also influence the beverage program and they supported my passion for crafting that type of bar program.

At ‘āina we have a low-ABV license which means I get to be creative with low proof alcohol like lillet and sparkling wine and use herbs, fruit and other seasonal ingredients to create drinks to complement our menu.


Why Dogpatch?
We were looking for a neighborhood where we felt we could make our own mark -- that wasn't yet too well known.  We looked in the inner Richmond, East Bay and South Bay. We didn't know a lot about Dogpatch but a friend who lives in the neighborhood told us we should look at the Ensoleille space after it closed and we made contact with owner Joshua Shertz.  We liked that it was still a "hidden" neighborhood -- not yet totally discovered but well on its way.  It reminded us of where we had our pop-up restaurant in the Bernal Heights neighborhood.  This neighborhood also feels like an East Coast neighborhood where everyone knows their neighbor and are vocal about what they like and don't like. All the pieces started coming together here. We really felt like we could be part of the changing face of the neighborhood in a good way.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
JA:  I would be a session musician I play guitar, bass, and drums.
JK:  A professional windsurfer.  I did a lot of it as a kid in Hawaii.
CL:  Well, I'm also still working full time at a recruiting firm so I think I would find some balance in my life.  Two jobs, two kids and a husband is plenty for me right now!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Marriage of Food and Merriment: Meet Adam Mendelson of The Pearl

Adam Mendelson of The Pearl in front of the metal facade depicting Dogpatch's iconic cranes - Nick and Nora. 
Anyone walking by the Ace Boiler and Welding Works industrial space at 3rd and 19th would certainly not have had the image of a pearl and the beauty that word conveys.  Many times we would rush by not wanting to disturb the ever-present guard dog that lurked in the open warehouse door and who looked none too friendly.

But if we think about the definition of the word Pearl (the finest example of something) or indeed how a Pearl is formed (something beautiful coming from an irritation), we might be closer to the newest incarnation of the Ace Boiler and Welding Works building into the event spaced named The Pearl.

And it is a beautiful space -- including the outside of the building which is now clad in metal and etched with renderings of the cranes perhaps from the nearby future park, Crane Cove Park. The artwork outside and inside is by the artist and one of the partners of The Pearl, Alexis Laurent.  We long ago nicknamed the cranes Nick and Nora and were delighted to find that the yet unfinished bar in The Pearl will be named Nick and Nora.  (We think bar seats should always be reserved for us.)

When the project was first announced, the concept included a distillery, event space and a restaurant. The concept has changed a bit -- the distillery is no longer part of the project and the restaurant space is still being figured out -- but the primary purpose of The Pearl is to be a destination for events and given the amount of activity we have seen on that corner in recent months, is already a success.  The 8,000 square foot space is split into three levels including a rooftop space -- all of which can host a diverse range of events.  As mentioned, a small bar space is still under construction as is a yet to be named restaurant.  The restaurant model is still a work in progress but the hope is to have it ready by December 2016.

For many months during the long construction project we would see Adam Mendelson, managing partner of The Pearl, seemingly overseeing every second of the transformation.  In fact, we weren't sure if he ever left the building.
Adam Mendelson in the main event space at The Pearl while it was still under construction on March 28, 2016.

Why do you do what you do?
I'm in love with all things related to food and the theatre of making a great event happen.  I'm continually amazed and gratified by the impact a good experience can have on someone versus the short-term impact of a purchase.  I love the pull of an experience that seems seamless -- where the customer doesn't see all the effort involved.

I grew up in Ohio and went to high school in Pennsylvania and college at Washington University in St. Louis.  I had a double major in finance and painting. I became interested in the intersection between the environment and commercial development.  I worked in Latin America on social and economic projects then returned to the U.S. to attend grad school at The John Hopkins University.  I returned to Latin America to work for the Inter-American Development Bank to try to make an impact from within.  I worked on several small infrastructure projects there.  I fell in love with the idea of working on renewable energy projects and co-developed wind projects with a focus on Latin America.  In 2008 I moved to California to work on large solar projects in the U.S. for SunPower Corporation.  After three years I decided to take a sabbatical to figure out what I really wanted to focus my passion and energy on.   I moved to the east coast but moved back to California in 2012.  I moved here with my fiancee -- neither one of us had jobs. Three days before our wedding our car was hit by a drunk driver. Thankfully, neither one of us was injured.  The accident solidified for me that I only wanted to pursue something that I was truly passionate about.

I realized that all of my free time -- reading, traveling, etc. was around food so I decided to make it my life. I wanted to be part of something that was excellent and that was in the hospitality industry.

I was inspired by a friend who had opened a winery in Brooklyn.  I loved the marriage of food and merriment and how the business had ties to the local community.  I invested in a small hotel in Knoxville, Tennessee and saw just how much work it was to build and operate that business.  But I was inspired by all of it.

I had met The Pearl partner Kurt Huffman, a Portland based chef and restaurateur, through a colleague at SunPower.  He was interested in developing a project that was more than a restaurant space. Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite Market also loved the idea of an event space that his business could be a part of.  Alexis Laurent had an unofficial event space that had to close so he was interested in putting his talents and energy to work with me.  The food industry in SF is amazing.  It is highly competitive but I found that everyone shares their expertise in the hopes of making the experience an excellent one for the consumer.  I put together a 56 page business plan and with that and my passion I got my foot in the door of the food world and The Pearl started to take shape.

Why Dogpatch?
Once the project started coming together we looked not only at the local real estate market and what was available, but also where light industry and public assembly were allowed to happen.  We looked at Dogpatch, Mission Bay, Pier 70 and the Outer Mission.  We knew about the Dogpatch neighborhood but didn't know it very well.  Once we started looking at the neighborhood, we realized that Dogpatch had what we were looking for -- urban mixed used development, great weather, and an amazing list of developments that were approved and on the way and so it became ground zero for our search.

We met with the property manager of the AIC and he mentioned that the old Ace Boiler and Welding Works industrial space at 3rd and 19th was for sale.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?
I would continue to find a way to work with local stakeholders to create something lasting and that reflects what people want to see in their neighborhood. I love finding the best people and then helping them to do what they do best.  I love the role of the producer in making this happen.