Hayes Valley wine bar Birba — which received Eater SF’s coveted 2017 award for wine bar of the year — has finally succeeded in its long fight to drink good wine outside. The bar’s new garden area in the back of 458 Grove Street was designed by Hannah Collins (she of businesses like A Mano, Flores, Media Noche). It’s now open for business, doubling Birba’s space overall. Drink with thine eyes.
Sommelier Angie Valgiusti opened Birba (pronounced “beer-bah,” Italian for little troublemaker) in 2014, and had always planned to offer outdoor seating to augment her very cozy (read: petite) interior. But permitting soon became an adventure in bureaucracy.
“My intention was always to have a very relaxed establishment — similar to what you would find in Europe,” Valgiusti says. “As soon as the permitting process started, I quickly realized I was far from Europe.”
Two years after submitting its proposals, Birba successful plead its case at city hall before a planning commission last summer. Food and wine figures including Dominique Crenn were in attendance at the hearing to show their support.
In the meantime, says Valgiusti, “we poured our energy into what we did have, taking time to get to know the customers and the community.”
That’s been a good thing. “Because of this valuable time spent solidifying these relationships, our community shares in our excitement.”
“While I can say that we’re happy with the outcome now, and focusing on the positive, at the time the process it was emotionally and financially difficult,” Valgiusti adds. “There were many days I wanted to give up, but the community and my customers kept me strong. A small business win, for sure. “
Birba, now with its garden, will be open Monday to Wednesday from 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“The patio will be closed and cleared by 9:30 p.m. at the latest out of respect for our neighbors,” Valgiusti sys.