San Francisco essential Foreign Cinema is expanding its Mission footprint with the opening of a wine bar right next door. There’s no name attached to the project yet, but owners Gayle Pirie and John Clark have big plans for a space they’ve been leasing for the last three years as storage.
Now, they’ll be transforming the area into a wine bar with 49 to 55 seats and room for up to 80 people standing, used for both the public and private events, as well as adding a kitchen to help ease the pressure off the over-taxed one inside Foreign Cinema. “We thought we could showcase more of that part of our business,” Piries told Eater SF. “Wine isn’t the first thing people think about when they think of Foreign Cinema, but it has been a growing part of our business, so we wanted to honor that.”
That growth is largely due to the work of wine director and general manager Shannon Tucker, who will be heavily involved in the bar, as she has grown the Foreign Cinema wine list from 200 labels to almost 2,000 in the last five years. Now this adjacent wine bar will have a 15,000-bottle cellar, focusing on wines close to home and from Europe, particularly Burgundian wines and small-producers from California and beyond.
“We have this expanding wine list at Foreign Cinema, and we’re really trying to use that the best we can,” Clark told Eater SF. “Opening a wine bar with a list of that magnitude is not common. Usually you find 15 wines by the glass with a wine list of maybe 100 to 200 wines, but this here you’ll be able to find something for anyone.”
The team is looking into how it will build out the cellar right now, whether it’s into the ground or up the walls, and once that’s figured out, the design of the narrow space will follow suit. “We’d like it to feel like something that has been there a while, so we’re leaning toward looking at more of a European kind of destination with stone and marble, as opposed to concrete and a modern feel,” Piries added. High ceilings (26 feet) will have exposed steel beams, for what Clark calls an “Eiffel Tower-feel.”
In addition to the wine will be some food, of course locally- and sustainably-sourced, as is Foreign Cinema’s practice. “It’ll definitely feel connected; it’ll have the same mojo and it’s the same family-run operation and spirit of generosity and integrity,” Piries added. “It’s just an elegant expansion that can enhance the program that’s going on now.”
The bar, located at 2540 Mission St., is going through the change of use permits now and is scheduled to open this year.