A short walk west of Union Square along Geary Street, an enclave of restaurants and retailers is creating a destination for locals and visitors alike. This emerging “restaurant row” demonstrates how the combined efforts of property owners, retailers, city officials and real estate professionals can work together to curate thriving shopping-dining-nightlife experiences that build on what San Francisco is known for — some of the greatest walking-street neighborhoods to be found anywhere.
San Francisco’s Union Square is one of the world’s leading “high street” retail areas but its hefty rental rates make nearby avenues a great place for hyper-local and emerging businesses to set up shop. Count Geary at Leavenworth among them, where you’ll find within a three-block radius popular establishments like Mensho Tokyo, Bandit cafe, Plant Therapy, Mr. Hyde, Resolute bar, the Nite Cap Bar and others.
Mensho Tokyo on 672 Geary St
Resolute on 678 Geary St
Nite Cap Bar on 699 O’Farrell St
Plant Therapy on 687 O’Farrell St
Mensho, the first U.S. expansion of one of Tokyo’s famed ramen eateries, has had lines “out the door” at 672 Geary since opening in 2017. Whether Resolute’s relaxed wine and beer experience at 678 Geary or the Nite Cap Bar hot spot for drinks at 699 O’Farrell St., both are classic San Francisco hang-outs. Bandit burger-cafe, a Yelp 4.5 star favorite at 683 Geary, opened last year with very popular fast-casual American food. There’s also Mister Hyde men’s salon at 457 O’Farrell and Plant Therapy at 687 O’Farrell, a home-and-business supplier of plants and related needs.
What distinguishes these six is that they’re tenants of Veritas Investments, with leasing help from retail real estate advisor Maven Commercial.
“Curating thriving retail is challenging enough given the tough road that retailers have. And there are issues such as complex or backlogged permitting, local neighborhood hurdles and buildings that need renovation or complete seismic upgrades,” said Santino DeRose, founder of Maven Commercial. “With community-minded landlords like Veritas who go many extra miles, not just one, it’s possible to build a shopping street where businesses complement each other and attract locals and visitors alike. It’s exciting to help create that experience and expand on San Francisco’s neighborhood charm.”
This spillover of businesses along Geary street has surged with others taking advantage of opportunity such as Barnzu Korean barbecue, Fleetwood shirts and accessories, The Family Room men’s handcrafted accessories and the eclectic art, jewelry, gifts, events and coffee mix at Look Gallery. Whether new or long-time tenants, they’re attracted by such factors as the relative better rents, proximity to high-density residential of the neighborhood, closeness to the energy of Union Square and Polk Street and short walk to BART and Market Street.
These retail enclaves — counter to the headlines about the ‘death of bricks and mortar retail’ — are also evidence that San Francisco neighborhoods can advance while still preserving their local flavor, local residents and local business.
“Some detractors will say new retail drives out others but it’s the contrary, because the Tenderloin around Geary and Leavenworth has a great mix of affordable and market-rate housing, and diversity at all levels,” said DeRose. “It’s classic San Francisco for the mix of people, of new and old businesses, of cool old buildings. And something to come see for yourself.”