Local Mission Eatery (San Francisco): Restaurateur Yaron Milgrom builds an eatery by the people for the people

Designers Seth Pare-Mayer and Kelli Franz created a space that was in step with the unpretentious and eclectic Mission District neighborhood while using an abundance of local materials and resources. Photo by atelier KS

Restaurateur Yaron Milgrom doesn’t just think locally.  He thinks microlocally.

So when he opened a local foodstuffs restaurant a year ago, he put it in in his own backyard. Well, almost.  Local Mission Eatery occupies the ground level of an old Victorian building on 24th Street, the cultural epicenter of San Francisco’s eclectic and lively Mission District.  Milgrom and his family live just four blocks away on 23rd.

The restaurant, which also houses a patisserie and a cookbook lending library and offers cooking classes, “was a way for me to be able to give something back to the neighborhood I love and plant roots here,” Milgrom says.

The eatery also houses Knead Patisserie and a lending library within the space. Photo by atelier KS

Milgrom spearheaded a team of designers, contractors, artisans and artists — all from San Francisco’s 415 area code — to bring his vision to life.  Milgrom selected husband and wife designers Seth Pare-Mayer and Kelli Franz of atelier KS to create a space that was in sync with his beloved neighborhood.

The couple was aware that their design had to jibe with the ethos of the Mission, where a jumble of working-class Latinos, artists and white-collar professionals lives.

“It couldn’t be a place out of Pacific Heights or the Marina or other areas of the city,” says Pare-Mayer, referring to some of San Francisco’s chicer neighborhoods.

He and Franz infused the impossibly rectangular space — a former old-time butcher shop — with their clean-lined, minimalist-modern sensibility.  And they embraced Milgrom’s microlocal philosophy.

In terms of both materials and fabricators, “we used sources that were very, very local,” Franz says.

Rich blue Heath Ceramic tiles and salvaged wood adorn the restaurant's façade. Photo by atelier KS

The restaurant’s simple horizontal façade, for example, is covered in faded blue jean-colored subway tile from Sausalito’s Heath Ceramics and wood planks that were crafted from a beam salvaged on site.   The tile pays tribute to the neighborhood, which is characterized by its colorful — often Latin-themed — tiled buildings.

The blue tiles and salvaged wood reappear inside the restaurant crafted into tile-topped tables, which the designers paired with simple white plastic euro-style dining chairs.  The tiles, which were found in Heath’s overstock room, wound up dictating the restaurant’s peaceful color palette of deep and soft blues.

Inside the sleek space, the main dining room’s most eye-catching feature is its inventive 30-foot “art wall.”  The wall tops a neighborhood-fabricated steel counter, which is used for lunch seating during the day, and, with stools removed, as an informal waiting area during the evening.  To create the wall, Mission artist Jon Fischer screen-printed images on wood tiles; the pictures depict the 24 intersections of 24th Street, from Valencia to Vermont.  The decorative pieces were then placed into a larger grid of wood tiles.

Local artist Jon Fischer screen-printed images of neighborhood intersections on decorative wood tiles. Photo by atelier KS

The wood wall gives the room warmth, says Pare-Mayer.  “We didn’t want the art wall to make it feel like you were walking into the MoMA or the Getty.”

No confusion there.  For although the designers — who primarily work on residential projects — say it was unintended, the eatery evokes a really cool and comfortable California home.   There are locally-purchased plants spilling out of Woolly Pockets at the restaurant’s entrance, and shelves accessorized with knickknacks near the patisserie at its very rear.  And in between, across from the kitchen, are built-in bookcases that are neatly lined with Chef Jake Des Voignes’ personal cookbooks.

Just like at home, some diners wind up eating on stools at the metal kitchen counter.  Our group of six was seated at the large wood communal dining table, which faces the open kitchen.  Chatting with friends old and new over bottles (and bottles) of organic California wines, I felt like I was at a really great dinner party hosted by a fabulous cook instead of at an urban eatery.

The restaurant features built-in shelving units and other home-like touches throughout the space. Photo by atelier KS

Adding to the home-like feel are two shabby chic chandeliers that hang over the communal dining table.  Milgrom insisted on adding the retro lighting to the otherwise modern space.

“I wanted some elements to remind people that this building is 120 years old and has a history,” says Milgrom, who uses vintage china for the restaurant’s dishware as another historical reference.  “It’s exciting to be in a 120 year old building.”

Indeed, Yaron — particularly if that building is in your favorite neighborhood on Earth.

Local Mission Eatery
3111 24th Street
San Francisco, California 94110


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