Eater SF made the announcement over a year ago, but that was a very long year, so let’s take it again from the top: The Novy team announced they were taking over the former Noe Valley Cantina space in January of 2020, and planning to turn it into a new cocktail bar, where residents could finally get a serious burger and a stiff drink. Originally slated to open in June of 2020, coronavirus derailed that plan. But at long last, they’ve got a name and a date: Mr. Digby’s is anticipated to open in April. It’s promising fully loaded deviled eggs and dry martinis, in a handsome space polished by ROY design studio. And not a moment too soon — no doubt there are some quarantined parents who could really use a date night.
The new owners are wife-and-husband Kristen Gianaras McCaffery (Novy) and Mike McCaffery (Mission Rock Resort). They decided to name the restaurant after Mike’s childhood dog, an old English sheepdog, who was a distinguished character on the street where he grew up. “[Digby] would sit on the front lawn, and he was just the gentlest, kindest dog who everyone in the neighborhood knew,” says Mike. “And that’s kind of what we wanted this bar to be. Just a place that everyone in the neighborhood feels comfortable with, whether it’s a weeknight or a special occasion.” It’s just cute enough to make sense for Noe, in a neighborhood overrun with toddlers and puppies. Including the McCafferys own daughter, who was born at the beginning of the pandemic.
The menu is still under development, but the McCafferys are promising comforting pub fare. Bar bites should include nuts, pickles, shrimp cocktail, steak tartare, and deviled eggs, which are “fully loaded like a baked potato,” with bacon, scallions, and crumbled potato chips taking it over the top. They’ve got a spinach dip, but instead of a classic sourdough bread bowl, they’re serving it hasselback style, with the hot dip sinking into the sliced bread. Their popular meatloaf will be reimagined as Salisbury steak meatballs and smothered in caramelized onions, and chicken pot pie will be repackaged as a hot pocket. And of course, fresh salads, sandwiches, and seasonal fish. Plus strong house cocktails, and a California-focused wine and beer list.
Despite the delays and the added expense of building outdoor dining the McCafferys did still keep the services of ROY, the premier restaurant design studio that also worked with the Riddler, Elda, Wildseed, and more. It should be a big change, moving from the Cantina’s sports screens to a more polished space, and the McCafferys can’t wait to reveal the warm wood paneling and fun accents with tiles and wallpaper. As San Francisco eases into reopening, they are planning to start with outdoor dining and a takeout window, with half a dozen tables on 24th Street, and a new parklet already under construction. Stay tuned for the big reveal, and more burger and martini updates.