Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ready for his close up: Meet Nic Candito of Yield Wine Bar

Nic Candito at Yield Wine Bar
The interior of Yield Wine Bar with its dark woods, soft sofas and reclaimed wood bar and tables, looks like an old western saloon and that image is made even more vivid when we are greeted by manager and assistant wine director, Nic Candito, who is dressed this day in a dapper suit with his bow tie neatly tied. If only he had on sleeve garters the image would be complete.

But in reality Candito with his seemingly boundless energy, plays many roles at Yield including party host, wine expert, art director, vendor liaison, and maybe the most important role -- customer care. Candito seems to have an uncanny memory for customer faces and he makes all who walk through the door feel welcomed.

It is certainly a testament to that welcoming feeling when you see Candito moving among the baby strollers and chatting with moms from the Potrero Hill new mom's group that counts Yield as one of its regular gathering places.

And on the popular trivia night held each Tuesday evening, he is a charming but firm taskmaster. His booming voice belies his slight build as he announces each question and keeps the evening on track. If you think his boyish looks might indicate that he might be tempted to give out helpful hints to each trivia question -- you would be seriously mistaken. But his refusal of hints is given in such a way that you almost feel like a better person for having asked.

But wine isn't Candito's only passion -- the performing arts have always been a big part of his life. He is an actor as well as an award winning lighting director and usually works on several theater projects each year.

Candito has been with Yield (and its sister wine bar, Pause on Market Street) since 2009.
Sampling one of the many great wines on hand at Yield.

Why do you do what you do?

I love people and I love having a conversation with people. I feel like I am hosting a nightly party with rotating guests.

And I love how our customers use Yield almost as their own living rooms to entertain their guests. I like being part of that.

When I came to San Francisco from my hometown of Sacramento to work with owner Chris Tavelli I didn't know a lot about wine. I've learned a lot over the years from Chris and our vendors and I'm especially proud that our wine bars were the first to offer wines that are made from grapes that are farmed organically or bio-dynamically. And our food menu complements the wines by offering vegetarian and pescatarian fare.

But we aren't snobby about our wine knowledge or wear it on our sleeves. Yield attracts customers who are wine enthusiasts as well as those folks who really just want a drink! If a customer wants to really talk wine -- we can do that.

Why Dogpatch?

Chris started Yield in 2006 here in Dogpatch and in 2011 opened Pause on Market Street. Chris has said that he just had a feeling about Dogpatch -- he felt like it was a neighborhood that was poised for change. In 2006 it was a pretty quiet neighborhood. And unlike Pause, which attracts a lot of business people, Yield has always been more of a local hangout. That has changed a bit with customers coming from outside of Dogpatch to meet up at Yield thanks to the completion of the Third Street Light Rail in 2007.

Who is another fascinating person in Dogpatch?

Goody the bartender next door at Dogpatch Saloon is quite the character and is very amusing but I think one of my regular customers here is one of the more interesting people I have met. She is an executive and I call her one of my SF "moms" because she is always telling me to save money, to take care of myself and on and on. She has such a great spirit.

What is an interesting story that has happened to you in Dogpatch?

Well I think it is very interesting that several members of the Hells Angels come here to drink. They drink Rose or White wine. Only in Dogpatch! I love that it busts the stereotype of what you think a Hells Angel would be drinking!

What would you be doing if you weren't pouring wine and listening to customers?

I would probably be pursuing theater full time in Sacramento. Most likely light design. I love lighting the mood and the setting of a play. Similar to how a director takes a script and uses it to direct the actors, when I get a script I view it in colors and use it to put together the light plan -- what colors, angels, and cues go with the play.

I take on one or two projects a year and I'm always there on opening night!

Article Written by Patricia Kline, Photos by Scott R. Kline

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