Breck’s, a stylish new wine bar and market, is now beckoning drinkers to the corner of Arguello and Clement. Owner Will Eagle is opening the shop little by little as he hires staff and assumes regular hours. For now, he’s pouring wine on the weekends and offering coffee and espresso from Verve in the mornings. A small food menu is in the works going forward. And tonight, he’ll greet the neighborhood more formally, hosting the Clement Street Merchants Assosciation.
Breck’s, designed by ROY (formerly Hannah Collins design, the force behind the Riddler and more), features handsome shelves for Eagle’s collection of bottles and a central marble counter. Inside are several tables for lounging beneath elegant light fixtures, and outside, there’s more seating below an awning that broadcasts Eagle’s wine philosophy: “Drink what you like, and like what you drink,” a quote from Robert Mondavi that he’s taken to heart.
Eagle started in the San Francisco wine trade in the early 2000s, working his way up to manager of the Wine Club in SoMa. “Being the buyer for one of the largest shops on the West Coast, everyone wanted to come and see you, so I really got to taste everything,” he says. Later, Eagle moved to New York with his wife, where he worked at Chambers Street Wines, Zachy’s, and Rockefeller Center’s Morrell & Company.
When the couple returned to San Francisco with their son (Breck, now nine) Eagle sought a space to open a small shop of his own. He took over the former Clement Mini Market, a general corner store, about a year ago. First, he ran it as it was for six months while applying for permits and meeting neighbors, then he launched into the remodel.
At any given time, Breck’s will offer two wines on tap, plus two beers, and six bottle pours by the glass, with more bottles to try via the Coravin wine system. “One of the biggest impediments people have to buying wine is not knowing what it tastes like,” says Eagle. ”There’s a big barrier to entry... but you let people taste the wine, and it lifts the veil.”
As for the shop’s focus, “I’m not a natural wine store or a California wine store or an Italian wine store or a Spanish wine store — the Spanish table is two blocks away, there’s no need,” says Eagle. Instead, Breck’s will serve wines that the neighborhood likes to drink, with an evolving selection month to month.