Ever-popular North Beach brunch spot Mama's on Washington Square is looking to make some more room for all those folks who line up along Stockton Street on the weekends — some 6,000 square feet to be exact. Hoodline reports the owners of the 38-seat restaurant are seeking approvals to renovate the vacant Piazza Market a few blocks away at Columbus and Vallejo into a second, 70-seat Mama's and community grocery store called Lil' Mama's
As Mama's spokesman Vince Sanchez (son of founders Michael and Frances Sanchez) tells Hoodline, he "unashamedly looked at the Bi-Rite model and other smaller specialty markets" when dreaming up the concept for the second location. While the new Mama's will seat almost twice as many sit-down diners as the original, Sanchez envisions the Lil' Mama's retail space with hot foods, a salad bar and other to-go items like coffee and smoothies to better serve neighbors who don't have time for such a leisurely breakfast. The plan is to keep Lil' Mama's open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. or later daily, with the new Mama's keeping regular breakfast and lunch hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The project has been in the works for going on three years now and Sanchez says the community market and restaurant will do more than just feed the neighborhood. The plan is to use the new, larger Mama's space for events like poetry readings and neighborhood meetings in the evenings. The Sanchezes will need support from the community to finalize the project as well. Due to zoning issues in the North Beach Special Use District, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors will both need to approve an amendment allowing restaurant use in the formerly retail space. The project goes before the Planning Commission next Thursday.
The short-lived Piazza Market that previously occupied the space made it less than two years between 2007-2009, but apparently had a hard time making rent on such a large retail space. Prior to Piazza, Rossi's Market operated there for 60 years before shuttering in 2003.