Could anyone use a coronavirus romance right about now? Well, here’s a really cute one that recently went down at a favorite local restaurant. Souvla, the Greek fast-casual spot with a location in NoPa, generously opened their doors so that one of their longtime regulars could pull off a surprise proposal in the sunny back patio. He dropped down to one knee. She said yes. There was rosé. Read on.
Sam Goldstein and Christa Simone didn’t meet through a dating app. This is a good old-fashioned story of roommates who started hooking up — a classic San Francisco romance. Goldstein, a startup founder, and Simone, a product manager, have lived together for six years, in a big multi-bedroom flat in the Lower Haight with a close group of friends. They’ve been romantically involved for five years.
Souvla was the site of their first official date, as the two snuck out of the house on a Tuesday. “It felt exciting and monumental, to be going out and purchasing food,” says Simone. “It had all been very secretive up until then,” agrees Goldstein. “We wanted to wait a few weeks to make sure it was for real.” They ordered chicken salads, of course, with Greek fries and harissa yogurt dip. Goldstein got a bottle of rosé, always a strong lunch decision, and the rest is history.
Goldstein had been contemplating a proposal long before the pandemic, which repeatedly thwarted his plans. “I’m generally into big crowds, so I was trying to publicly embarrass Christa. But when the world shut down, that became increasingly hard.” Instead, he sent a heartfelt email to Souvla, and was surprised to get a response. Owner Charles Bililies opened up the restaurant, and helped arrange a sign in the front window, along with photos and roses. Jen Pelka, Bililies’ wife and the owner of the Riddler Champagne bar, joined in on all of the fun.
Goldstein and Simone turned up on a Saturday morning, wearing a backpack and a baseball hat, out for a walk in the neighborhood. Simone was initially excited to see that Souvla had a sign in the window, hoping the restaurant might have reopened (sadly, no). Then she was confused that it had her name on it, then shocked when Goldstein finally dropped to one knee and popped the question. “I thought we were going to the Mill, because we heard they were giving out sourdough starter,” laughs Simone. “Instead we got wasted.”
During these strange times, it’s a reminder of how restaurants serve as spaces where people celebrate big moments like birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and engagements. This couple loves Souvla because it was their first date spot, but also, it was somewhere low key to catch up with an old friend. Goldstein has no regrets about choosing it for their proposal. “We were blown away by how incredibly generous and helpful Charles and Jen were,” says Goldstein. “It just goes to show how kind people can be, even to complete strangers. It was one of those moments that restores your faith in humanity.”
Also, Souvla fans: We know you miss those lamb wraps, chicken salads, Greek fries, and Greek frozen yogurt with baklava crumbles. Souvla has remained closed throughout shelter in place, which is intriguing, given that the restaurant specializes in takeout, has a delivery-only location, and even its own food truck. Eater SF has repeatedly asked the Souvla team when they plan to reopen, but they’re playing it safe. Stay tuned for salad updates.