Here is a photo I took on New Year’s Eve 2011 at Mint Plaza in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco. (I was organizing my Desktop and this photo winked at me.)There was something about the yellow leaves and the gray tiles which captured my attention at that moment in time.
I discovered Mint Plaza when I first moved here and a childhood friend from Honolulu invited me to dinner at 54 Mint, an Italian restaurant. The food was great, the value was agreeable, and the ambiance was terrific. It wasn’t mom-and-pop style nor stuffy white tablecloth establishment. In the landscape of food politics, it felt philosophically very Center or maybe marginally Right of Center towards the white tablecloth. In general, it was a very San Francisco dining experience. After all, they “perform regional Italian cuisine” and they serve “responsibly raised meat.” (as per their website) Remember that this City is a stage where you can be anyone at anytime and how you treat your cattle is very important.
If you look closely at the photo you’ll be able to spot the “One Way” sign. The big windows behind the sign peers into Blue Bottle coffee. I am not partial to Blue Bottle or Philz Coffee for that matter, two very popular non-Starbucks coffee venues and also two San Francisco Bay Area based companies. I recall one of my Quora inbox updates (tagged under Entrepreneurship, I think) which answered the question: Which coffee shops have inspired startups?( Or which coffee shops bring together a group of people to discuss ideas?)It listed a handful of places in San Francisco and a few in Palo Alto. Blue Bottle was mentioned specifically at this Mint Plaza location and I remember it since I like the general space at the plaza. It feels modern, clean and discreet compared to the rest of the immediate neighborhood.
Fantastic Italian fare and local coffee houses in San Francisco. Nothing new there. But throw in the right people with the right dialogue and the weeknight dinner event or standard coffee house becomes an incubator of ideas.