For the past six years Bodega has brought the good wine to the party in North Beach with excellent natural wines and small plates. Now the team behind the neighborhood bar is taking the best bottles south to open Key Klub, a second drinking destination in Lower Nob Hill. The bar opened quietly in early December, Tablehopper spotted, but only celebrates is official debut today, January 11. Partners Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh joined forces with Sean Halpin, who previously worked at Cellarmaker and brewed at Social Kitchen and Brewery, who’s overseeing the beer side of things.
The trio moved Key Klub into a well-aged space at 850 Bush Street, which used to be home to a bar of the same name. Luevano says they were drawn to the look of the exposed brick, despite the fact that the building is slated to be razed to make way for condominiums in about four or five years. “We thought we’d just give Key Klub one last run,” Luevano says, adding that the building “really stands out in San Francisco, where you don’t really get a lot of that big brick facade. It’s gorgeous, and it has that Brooklyn, urban feel.” They did what they could to preserve the space’s character, opting for subtle upgrades like bringing in modern finishes and fixtures, investing in handmade lighting, and amping up the sound system.
The beverage menu is built around a lengthy wine list; not only are there some 25 or so options by the glass, but also a couple dozen bottles up for grabs. And for those looking to break away from Napa cabs and oaky Chardonnay, there are sections titled “Here for the funk” and “Thicc boys” covering selections including a skin contact sauvignon blanc and Iruai Wine’s Giallo red, thick with cranberry and red currant. The main draw for those who might be familiar with Bodega’s list? “I think where Key Klub differs a little bit is we will have some very exclusive collectors type bottles of wine, allocated stuff, stuff we’re been collecting over the years at Bodega that was kind of just hanging out in the cellar and not getting a lot of love,” Luevano teases. Most glasses will come in around $14 to $16, but Luevano says they’re not afraid to open up some higher-end bottles to pour by the glass at a higher price point.
As for the beer, the focus is freshness, Luevano says. They’ve got 16 taps at Key Klub — up from just six at Bodega — and with Halpin curating the list it’s all about what’s light, vibrant, and fun, not necessary just what’s local. The team also wanted to load up the list with “crushable” beers, so expect plenty of lighter ales and lagers. The food selections are also beefier (literally and figuratively) than what’s available at Bodega. There’s a full kitchen at Key Klub, so in addition to charcuterie and small plates, there’s also a burger with two beef patties, American cheese, and pickles on a challah bun and a steak frites au poivre.
Aside from the unique space and thoughtful menus of food and drink, Luevano says the big draw for Key Klub is the vibe. Like at Bodega, he and the team hope to foster the kind of casual atmosphere where folks from the neighborhood gather for weeknight dinners, first dates, and celebrations. “I think the most important thing for us is really the idea that we offer very beautiful wines in a very fun approachable atmosphere,” Luevano says. “When we started this six years ago, the idea that a wine bar could turn into an all out party, that was what made Bodega special.”
Key Klub is open 5 to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday.