The owners behind two of San Francisco’s coolest wine bars have another trick up their sleeves. Partners Lalo Luevano and Paria Sedigh, who operate Bodega in North Beach and Key Klub in Lower Nob Hill, have taken over the former West Coast Wine & Cheese space on Union Street and will open a third bar there on Saturday, October 14.
The new wine bar will be called Céleste, and similar to their other businesses it’ll offer a list that’s designed to bridge the gap between the ever-growing number of bars focused solely on wines made with little or zero intervention and those with a bent toward California-made bottles and Old World classics. At Key Klub, which the duo opened in early 2022, they’ve gained recognition for being an inclusive drinking destination for all — whether you want a cloudy, funky natural wine or a $220 bottle of Italian red. “We might introduce a young person to orange wine,” Luevano says, “and their second glass might be their first Burgundy when they said they didn’t like chardonnay — and that’s very cool.”
The space already had a full, if pint-sized, open kitchen, so there will be a menu of what Luevano calls “Greek taverna fare.” They want to bring a bit of the Aegean Sea to San Francisco serving “fresh raw and grilled seafood, Greek salad with a thick slab of feta, dips, and grilled skewers.” Luevano says they’ll continue the tradition of keeping things walk-ins only so while Céleste may not be a dinner destination, it’ll certainly have a food menu that can hold its own.
As for the name, Luevano says they initially wanted to come up with a name that riffed on the oceanic theme of the menu, something that spoke to maritime roots or sailing. But after failing to find something that felt right, they ended up inventing a persona of the kind of customer they envisioned frequenting the bar. They named her Céleste. “We thought about creating this fictional patron persona that’s been supporting and going to Bodega for however many years we’ve been open and giving that person a name,” he says. “It’s very much a tribute to the support we’ve gotten. We all have a little bit of Céleste in us.”
Luevano says he and Sedigh have had their eyes on the neighborhood for some time. “We both have just dreamt about having a space in that area, Marina and Cow Hollow, just because of the energy and the way people prioritize going out,” he says. “As somebody in our business that’s all you could kind of want.” There’s a lot of overlap between the residents of both areas and the customers they serve at Bodega and Key Klub, he says, though they expect to have to do some customer education since the wine list will be quite different than what was offered at West Coast Wine & Cheese. That wine bar closed in June after nearly a decade; owner Chris Wanner was a pioneer in offering a wine list that showcased only West Coast selections back in 2014. “It’s a different wine list,” Luevano says of what’ll be poured at Céleste. “We definitely see it as a challenge.”
The owners will celebrate the bar’s opening on Saturday with a party and for those fans of Bodega’s So-Cal breakfast burritos, Luevano says they’re hoping to bring them over to Union Street down the line. “We like the idea of bars having really amazing food,” he says. “We’ve always been inspired by that.”
Céleste (2165 Union Street) debuts on Saturday, October 14 and will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 2 to 11 p.m.