Since the pandemic hit, many people have been working from home, spurring a spike in dog adoptions. And now, apparently, the puppy boom also correlates to a super cute trend in restaurant names. If 2019 was the year men named their restaurants after their moms, well, then it appears the pandemic was the period that chefs named their restaurants after their dogs. There are three new restaurants and bars in San Francisco that found inspiration in loyal canine companions: Lucy of Lucinda’s Deli, the popular sandwich shop in Alamo Square; Kona of Kona’s Street Market, the cool cocktail bar in SoMa; and the esteemed Mr. Digby of Mr. Digby’s, the polished tavern in Noe Valley.
Lucy of Lucinda’s Deli & More
Chef Ryan Chinchilla opened Lucinda’s Deli toward the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, just around the corner from Alamo Square. The new sandwich shop quickly earned a big reputation for meaty subs layered with chef touches, such as mortadella that’s triple-sauced with tapenade, bagna cauda mayo, and hot pepper chili relish, and roast beef piled with both pickled onions and crispy onions. Chinchilla was previously the chef at Horsefeather, and he’s lived in the neighborhood for more than five years, and always loved grabbing a sandwich and taking his pit bull to the park. Her name is Lucy, or in fancy Italian sub shop talk, Lucinda. “It’s hilarious, because my parents thought it was the worst idea,” says Chinchilla. “They said everyone was going to think it’s a dog food store.”
Lucy is a black-and-white pit bull, now 10 years old, and “she’s super dopey and sweet, just a big giant cow-looking dog,” says Chinchilla. She stars in the name and the logo, and likes to chill outside the shop. Chinchilla says many customers ask if the shop was named after his mom, and he just points to the sign. He believes it’s contributed to the chill park vibes, and many people stop by to pick up sandwiches while walking their dogs. (Side note: Lucy is not allowed to eat her namesake sandwiches. The big strong pittie has a sensitive tummy.)
Kona of Kona’s Street Market
Bartender Kevin Diedrich opened Kona’s Street Market in February 2021, shortly after Pacific Cocktail Haven sadly suffered a fire, accelerating the team’s plans for their next bar. Even though SoMa has been quiet, longtime fans of this talented cocktail team are turning out to try their creative new drinks, as well as Filipino snacks from food partner Pinoy Heritage. The bar was inspired by street markets from around the world, and originally they wanted to name it Night Market — until they received a cease and desist from a restaurant group in Los Angeles. Rather than fight it, they decided the easiest solution was to throw a specific name on the front.
Enter Kona, another pit bull, a ladylike 58 pounds and 11 years old, who’s got floppy ears that bounce with every prance. “Kona has always been a bar dog,” says Diedrich. “I brought her to every job I ever had … she’s like a furry ambassador.” Diedrich says Kona loves people, dogs, and especially little dogs. He sometimes balances objects on her head, which she hates but tolerates, including cocktails, as captured in the bar’s logo. “Kona is the face of the business. She’s our fur ambassador, and she’s saved us from legal fees.” Diedrich says the name has contributed to the dog-friendly aspect of the parklet, and when the team does special events and fundraisers, they like donating to local rescues, including Muttville and Rocket Dog.
Mr. Digby of Mr. Digby’s
Mr. Digby’s opened its doors in Noe Valley a couple of weeks ago, finally bringing a strong martini and fully loaded deviled eggs to the family-friendly neighborhood. Husband-and-wife owners Mike McCaffery (Mission Rock Resort) and Kristen Gianaras McCaffery (Novy) decided to name the spot after Mike’s childhood dog. “We wanted to name the bar after someone in our lives who was significant, and we wanted to use one name, so people in the neighborhood felt like they were meeting at someone’s place,” says McCaffery. “ … We wanted it to be welcoming, a comfortable neighborhood spot, like, ‘Let’s meet at Digby’s.’”
Cervantes Von Digby the Fourth, his full show name, was in fact a champion Old English Sheepdog. But he had hip dysplasia, so he was given up for adoption, and the McCafferys rescued him from the SPCA. Maybe because his hips hurt, but maybe also because he was a little lazy, McCaffery says he liked to sit at his leisure on the front lawn, and kind of became a distinguished personality around the neighborhood. Even people that the family didn’t know would greet Mr. Digby by name. He’s now featured prominently in the name and logo of the new tavern, as well as a framed portrait inside.
Mike says they wanted to honor Mr. Digby, but also didn’t want to overdo it, with a full-blown canine theme. That said, the name definitely makes sense for Noe Valley, a particularly dog-friendly neighborhood. And while they picked the name well before the pandemic, it only gained more appeal. “The neighborhood is such a dog-friendly area, and with the slow street, and the outdoor dining, there are so many dogs out right now,” confirms McCaffery. “SF is definitely having a puppy boom.”