A new neighborhood bar and restaurant will fill the empty corner space at Haight and Pierce streets when it opens next spring in the Lower Haight. STOA arrives with backing from four partners: industry vets Allyson Jossel, Gonzalo Guzmán, Joji Sumi, and Yanni Kehagiaras, all of whom helped grow San Francisco favorite Nopalito, as well as a number of other local restaurants, over the years. But despite the affiliation to that restaurant, the new spot is meant to be its own entity — in other words, don’t expect Mexican food or an agave-focused bar menu. Instead, STOA will share a kindred spirit with Nopalito in less tangible ways. “If people enjoy the experience when they dine at Nopalito, or they like our ethos, then they’re gonna find something similar — they’re going to be able to feel that,” Jossel says.
The first change-up from the Nopalito storyline begins in the STOA kitchen. Rather than Guzmán running things here, as he does at Nopalito, he’s instead taking the role of culinary manager while Sumi, Nopalito’s chef de cuisine, will take the reins. And while the kitchen is keeping mum on the menu, Jossel promises “seasonally driven California cuisine.” With that in mind, expect the food to lean on — and expand upon — Sumi’s varied cooking experiences and background; he was born in Japan and raised in Michigan and has previously cooked at farm-to-table restaurants on the East Coast, such as Mezze Bistro in the Berkshires, and at Nopalito.
Kehagiaras is taking up the “Lead Barkeep” role, as he prefers to call it, bringing his extensive experience running bar programs at places around the city before the pandemic, including Nopa, Nopalito, Liholiho Yacht Club, Louie’s Gen-Gen Room, and Dear Inga. At STOA, he’ll be able to flex those skills with an “extensive, original cocktail program,” featuring a mix of both strong cocktails — including a sherry cocktail or two, a favorite of Khagiaras — and low-ABV options, as well as some nonalcoholic selections. Jossel says STOA’s drinks are meant to be center stage, with food serving as accompaniment, so expect smaller plates that play well with cocktails.
There’s plenty to look forward to with the new space, such as the location — already the team is excited by STOA’s location on the Wiggle, that bike path meant to help traverse the inclines of the city. The group is also leaning into the layout of the space, embracing the columns that fill the room currently, and in its former iterations as Fort Point Beer Company’s taproom and Black Sands Brewery before that. In fact, the bar’s name STOA invokes the architectural term used for those outdoor walkways with plentiful columns that proliferated in ancient Greece, turning what some may call an obstacle into something that gives the space a “strength and presence,” Jossel says. The bar-restaurant will receive a makeover courtesy of design studio Creates Cool and ACI Construction, with an outdoor dining space update also in the works.
STOA (701 Haight Street) is expected to open in spring 2023.