San Francisco Couple Opens Artisan Food Shop on Historic Upper Grant Avenue in North Beach

“We wanted to create a shop for people who love to cook, eat and drink,” said Jay Esopenko and Melissa Gugni of their new specialty store Little Vine, set to launch on August 22. With a focus on local products, the store will offer an extensive selection of cheeses, hand-made salumi, organic beef, pasture raised poultry and seasonal produce. The small space also has floor to ceiling shelves, navigated by staff with a rolling ladder, which are filled with items from the couple’s favorite small producers, such as Fully Belly Farms, Starter Bakery, Emmy’s Pickles and Jams, Soul Food Farms, McQuade’s Chutneys & Il Mondo Vecchio Salumi, to name a few. As a first in North Beach, Little Vine will also be making organic, fair-trade, individual pour over coffee from San Francisco’s Bicycle Coffee Company. The grab and go section of Little Vine will cater to lunchtime crowds with sandwiches, New York style organic bagels and vintage picnic baskets filled for alfresco meals in Washington Square Park, just a block away.

The idea behind Little Vine started when Melissa and Jay were living in Europe. The two fell in love with the little, family run corner shops. “From the cheese shops to the local butcher or green grocer, there was a quaint feeling of specialized service in the spirit of these shops,” said Melissa. When the couple moved to San Francisco they saw this neighborhood feeling captured in North Beach and wanted to bring the local, corner artisan shop back.

Melissa and Jay bring a combined three decades of wine and culinary industry experience from around the world. They are also the proprietors of Drink Cocktail Catering, the first artisan mobile cocktail service in the Bay Area, founded in 2004. After permits are secured, the two are tapping into their wine industry contacts to bring bottles from small production and hard-to-find, family-owned wineries to Little Vine. An ecommerce site is also in the works for Little Vine, so that customers around the world can experience the flavors of Northern California.

Visit them!

Little Vine: 1541 Grant Avenue San Francisco, CA 94133