Historic SF convenience store reopens with wine and cookies

Two restaurant industry veterans are transforming a century-old Mission neighborhood convenience store into a liquor store — with kid-friendly touches like warm cookies. Opening Monday, Dolores Deluxe will be a kind of “high-low” place, co-owner Zach Negin said: “We’ll have producer champagne, but also $12 bottles of white wine, canned cocktails, sodas and Doritos.”

Dolores Deluxe is the first San Francisco venture for Negin, owner of LA’s famous Tabula Rasa natural wine bar. Her business partner, Ramzi Budayr, was until recently Marlena’s partner in San Francisco, and previously worked at Nomad in Los Angeles and Eleven Madison Park in New York.

The two friends’ project was to open a wine bar in San Francisco. When they found the 750-square-foot storefront at 3500 22nd Street, which previously housed a convenience store called Mama’s Market, it seemed like a perfect fit — except the location was licensed for retail, not on-premises consumption. Also, Mama’s Market was frequented by elementary school kids just opposite, and Nagin and Budayr didn’t want to be rude to them.

So the idea of ​​a bottle store began to take shape. When Budayr searched the building’s records, he found a 1911 photograph showing the location with an eye-catching facade that read “Dolores Deluxe”. They still don’t know exactly what that company was like, but “we just knew it had to be called Dolores Deluxe,” Budayr said. With the help of graphic designer Kristin Fulscher and custom neon maker Golden Gate Signs, they built a modern version of the 1911 sign, complete with a gold pivot and green keystone.

“There is so much in this space,” Budayr said. “Why not point him into the future and push him in a direction where he could really fulfill his potential?”

Wines and spirits will be honored in the shop. “We’re not necessarily going to call ourselves a natural wine store, although that might end up being the bulk of what we offer,” Budayr said. They plan to stock bottles from producers who they say follow “responsible” practices, both environmentally and socially, but set no strict limits on what that means.

There will always be a selection of wines under $20, they said, and they’re “really into not finding the ‘trendy’ wine,” Budayr said; there will be more classic items. Canned wine and cocktails, intended for consumption in the nearby Dolores Park, will be present, as will high-quality spirits from producer-producers – again, bottles that meet a broad definition of “ responsibility “.

To start, they will be selling coffee from Highwire Coffee Roasters in Emeryville, bread from Backhaus Bakery in San Mateo, and Syrian apricot jam made by Budayr’s father. Starting Oct. 8, the store will become the San Francisco pickup location for Pie Society, Berkeley’s popular bakery. Later in the month, Dolores Deluxe’s ​​food options will expand to include home-made takeaways like black sesame hummus, Turkish coffee brownies and a quiche made with bacon, leeks and tomato jam. spicy. Budayr’s aunt, Maya Hamade, who operates a cottage kitchen in Palo Alto, will also bring some groceries.

One thing they are determined to ensure is in stock: cookies. “We came up with this idea for cookie hour instead of happy hour,” said Nagin, who has two young children. They like the idea of ​​greeting primary school children with warm cookies and milk when they leave school. Budayr, a trained pastry chef, will make them himself.

This week’s opening is a quick turnaround — the owners got the keys to the place on September 16 — and they’re leaving the space somewhat unfinished. They plan to do a bigger renovation in early 2023 once they get a sense of “what the community is really looking for,” Nagin said.

Luxury Dolores. Opening Monday. Open 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. 3500 22nd Street, San Francisco. Instagram.com/doloresdeluxesf

Esther Mobley is the principal wine critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Esther_mobley

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