Queens, a food business that began as an online version of NY and LA’s classic Korean markets, is now a brick-and-mortar market of its own, though not a fully traditional one. The food purveyor, run by Clara Lee and her partner Eddo Kim, just completed a move into a 2,000-square-foot Inner Sunset space yesterday. Queens superette, as Lee and Kim call it, is now open for pantry staples, marinated meats, and banchan (Korean side dishes) by the pound at 1235 9th Avenue.
“We really want to pay respect to the immigrant grocery store we grew up having our parents and our uncles run,” Lee told Eater SF this spring.
Queens is named for Lee’s personal queens, her mother and grandmother. But Lee’s business, which opened in February 2018 with delivery-only options, is nobody’s grandmother’s market. There’s plenty of classic snacks like kimbap (Korean rice rolls) and daily necessities for Korean cooking, including Asian heirloom produce like perilla leave and pantry supplies like homemade gochujang.
But “we can [also] present this new phase of cool Korean products that are out there [along with] the very staple stuff we grew up eating,” says Lee. At Queens, That means bottles of artisanal Korean soju and microbrews to-go, once a liquor license goes through, plus hip goods like coffee from trendy Korean roaster Fritz.
The new Queens space is relatively long and narrow, with minimalist style and splashes of color from Heath Ceramics tiles. There’s still room for occasional events and educational classes in the future, Lee says, and the location is ideal, on a busy business strip in the former home of vegetarian cafe Daily Health.
Queens is now open Monday to Tuesday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.