After opening in February 2020, Mark Sethi and Nadia Wit weren’t sure their Divisadero Street restaurant That’s My Jam would ever see the light of day again. But now, the better part of three years later, the couple’s addition to brunch options in the area has finally reopened, serving Persian black tea made with saffron, breakfast sandwiches and quiche, and grilled cheese with tomato soup. Sethi handles the food, while Wit handles the front of the house, social media, and interior design. “It’s always been the dream to have a restaurant,” Sethi says.
That’s My Jam looks to be your go-to spot for warm caffeinated beverages, comfort food made with sustainable and organic ingredients, and indulgent breakfast and lunch options. The business sells a turmeric latte — made with freshly juiced turmeric rather than powder — and tomato sandwiches with ingredients sourced and prepped each day. The menu is bound to fluctuate off of local, fresh ingredients, but that’s because Sethi is insistent no corners be cut. He makes coconut milk by breaking down full coconuts, and pumpkin pie by roasting Fairytale pumpkins rather than using puree from a can; there’s nothing from the freezer, either. Wit is half-Persian and Sethi half-Indian, but she points out they are both definitively Californian, with the restaurant incorporating influences from both of their backgrounds. “My basic principles with cooking, like with constructing this place, is respect for the ingredients,” Sethi says.
The business opened in February 2020, with a grand opening planned for March 19, 2020. Obviously, it closed before that plan could ever come to fruition. The couple kept the business hibernating, until briefly trying to open it in October 2021 for dinner, but they were without a parklet at that point. Then, to make the timeline even crazier, the restaurant got broken into in spring 2022. “We tried all the things that restaurants tried,” Wit says. Throughout it all, Sethi kept on building and polishing the space; he’s had numerous jobs in construction and manual labor, and Wit says he was a “true one-man show.” He hand-carved the bars inside, the seats outside, and the full parklet, all with reclaimed wood leftover from a construction project in the Duboce neighborhood — mostly Douglas Fir and Redwood, Sethi says. Even the copper inside is retrofitted from the Sutro Baths. “We wanted to recycle as much as possible from old-school San Francisco,” Sethi says.
Sethi, who has lived in San Francisco since 2014, built the restaurant from the ground up, handling all the permitting and building the parklet. His journey to the city is a wild one: he lost his leg while living in Los Angeles in 2009 and was without medical insurance, all of a sudden finding himself working as a chef with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. It led him to become a prosthetist, and, after spending about 10 years training and working, a startup in that industry head-hunted him to start a manufactory in San Francisco. In fact, the manufactory was in the same building where That’s My Jam is today. When the company moved to a bigger processing plant in SoMa, he knew the owner of the building was looking for someone to take over the lease. That’s when he stepped in to build out That’s My Jam. (He officially left the prosthetics company in 2019.) Wit met Sethi in 2005 in Los Angeles — she says he wooed her with chocolate-covered strawberries injected with Grand Marnier — and Wit joined Sethi in the Bay just a few months after he came up. Both held their other jobs throughout the opening of That’s My Jam, and both say they’re thankful to focus on what they love now: cooking. “When you have that respect, you can make things nobody else can make.”
That’s My Jam, 324 Divisadero Street in San Francisco, is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with plans to expand hours to dinner soon.