Following the success of his two food truck parks, SoMa StrEat Food Park and Mission Bay’s Spark Social, Carlos Muela is taking over another empty lot in Mission Bay. That area, across from Spark Social at 1379 Fourth Street (along Mission Bay Boulevard between 3rd and 4th Street) is designated as park space around which development will eventually rise. But in the meantime, starting in June, the lot will open to the public with five food trucks, a beer garden, and an elaborate, whimsical 18-hole mini golf course called Stagecoach Greens.
That mini golf aspect of the project, which in full Muela calls ParkLab Gardens, was a particular stroke of good luck. After the area developer Mission Bay Development Group granted Muela the lease on the second lot, Muela sought a recreational use for the space: Something like mini golf to complement his existing food truck park, rather than compete with it.
During neighborhood outreach, he met Jan and Esther Stearns. “They’re the most passionate people about mini golf I’ve ever met in my life,” Muela says of the couple. After the Stearns retired from careers in finance and set design, they dove headlong into mini- golf.
In Mission Bay, Stagecoach Greens’ 18-hole course will take the boom-and-bust of the West as its central theme, with the first nine holes dedicated to the gold rush and the back nine to the city of today. Designs, being fabricated by local artists and craftspeople like One Hat One Hand in the Bayview, call for playful elements like gold mine carts with original steel wheels and a saloon large enough that golfers can walk inside. On the back nine, the Stearns envision holes featuring models of the Salesforce Tower and Transamerica Pyramid, imagined as Rock ’Em Sock ’Em robots in a duel.
Drinks like beer and spiked Anold Palmers will be allowed on the course itself, and food will be available at five food trucks. A regular trio will be Hookt Donuts, Jeepney Guy, and Al Pastor Papi, a new truck from chef Miguel Escobedo. Two more rotating trucks will round out the selection.
Stay tuned for more details on food, drink, and golfing. But bear in mind that there’s no purchase necessary for entry into Parklab Gardens.
“The idea is to create a third space for the neighborhood, where people are just getting outdoors,” says Muela, invoking the concept of a place between work and home, like a cafe or a park, dedicated to conversation and recreation. “If people don’t buy anything, we don’t care.”