I first noticed the cute, hand-painted words “Little Bird” on a storefront next to Whiskey Thieves on Geary a couple of weeks ago after getting drinks at Edinburgh Castle, and I wondered if it was a new place. Lately I constantly get the impression that old places are actually new (is it because of the summer light? some of them have been cleaning up their facades? balloons?), and the window looked kind of scratched, so I thought it must have been one of the places in the Loin I’ve never noticed before.
A few days later I passed by it again, and noticed a Ritual Coffee sign. Given the hiptitude Ritual enjoys, this obviously wasn’t an old place. When I looked it up on Google, I couldn’t find any website or reference to it. Last week, I finally saw the place open and it definitely looked new, cozy and inviting. Unfortunately, I was running to an appointment and couldn’t investigate any further. In the last couple of days I’ve walked by it a few more times and it became obvious that the place was calling my name, but timeliness has not been on my side to check it out.
This morning I couldn’t hold it anymore and had to go down there with fellow Tenderbloggers humin and hiphapa to satisfy my curiosity. We ended up chatting for a couple of hours with the extremely friendly co-owner, Dave Blood (his real name).
So here’s the story: Dave (pictured on the right) is the manager of Whiskey Thieves, as well as Dirty Thieves and Thieves Tavern in the Mission (they all have the same owner). For some reason that he couldn’t quite figure out, when the space next to Whiskey Thieves became available some 9 months ago, he started thinking about trying something new and opening a cafe.
Apparently the space used to be a grungy cafe/bar named Caffeine that was open until the wee hours and wasn’t anything memorable; at least we don’t remember it well. The co-owner of Little Bird is no other than the Thieves’ owner’s wife, Chelsea Addison Torres. She’s the one who decorated the place and designed the beautiful floral counter top, as well as the cute Little Bird logo that first caught my attention.
Chelsea, who we unfortunately didn’t meet today, is also responsible for a rather unusual feature of Little Bird: the kids’ area (pictured below). It’s replete with toys and small chairs, so that groups of moms (or dads) can gossip over coffee without their kids being bored and/or running amok. As you may have guessed, Chelsea has two kids herself (aged 2 and 1) and she finds San Francisco lacking in kid-friendly places.
But let’s talk about the most important aspect of a coffehouse: the coffee. As mentioned earlier, they are proudly serving Ritual coffee, as well as De La Paz, both made in an Italian La Marzocco machine and served in classic ACF brown cups. Yes, dear coffee snobs and Tender Readers, with Verve being served at Farm:Table, Sightglass at Hooker’s, and now Ritual and De La Paz at Little Bird, the Tenderloin is truly becoming a new coffee geek haven. Furthermore, Little Bird is planning to expand their coffee menu to include other SF third-wave roasters–or at least a couple more. Coming from Whiskey Thieves, where you can choose from 250 different brands of whiskey, they want to offer coffee lovers a broad range of quality choices. ‘I like the idea of variety’, Dave said. Unfortunately, they don’t have loose leaf tea – just Stash pouches (one can’t have it all).
For the time being, Little Bird is open from 7AM-3PM-ish on weekdays and 8/9AM-3PM-ish on weekends. Dave said this is probably going to change soon, as they’re hoping to start serving late “bar bites” at some point, mainly to the Whiskey Thieves clientele but also to any other hungry drinkers in the area, of which there are many, given that Geary has a pretty solid stretch of good bars on it.
At the moment they’re only serving breakfast stuff, such as cookies, bagels from Holey Bagel in Noe Valley, and the occasional waffles if one happens upon them. But they want to have some lunch options as well soon, revolving around a sandwich focus. They’ve only been open for a week in a soft launch, so they’re still trying to figure things out, playing with some ideas and tweaking their menu according to customers’ preferences. Dave told us they should be having their grand opening party in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned through their twitterfeed. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to give them feedback or suggestions.
We honestly don’t know how Dave manages to work the Thieves bars by night and Little Bird by day. Obviously, the coffee might have something to do with it, but he’s truly passionate about this new endeavor and it shows. When we asked about the origin of the name we discovered another passion of his: rock-climbing. And if you’re wondering about the connection between the two, you’ll have to ask him about it when you check out the place (and you definitely should). We won’t say anymore.
This Little Bird has big plans. Besides expanding their opening hours, their food and coffee menu, they’re also looking to have outdoor seating and free wifi plus the possibility of a bicycle rack may loom in the future as well. And have we mentioned that they have a pink bathroom that is probably the most decadent bathroom in the Loin? Well, they do and it is there for thorough use and enjoyment. The only thing they don’t have is a website (yet), but they do have a Facebook page and Twitter account. So follow them there if you want to learn about upcoming changes, but also get out from your dark apartment and go enjoy one of our great new cafes in the Loin!