A First Look at 20 Spot in the Mission

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The bar at 20 Spot. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The front lounge area. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The old record shop sign and lime door. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously reported in tablehopper, there’s a new project opening in the former Force of Habit record shop in the Mission. ~20 SPOT~ is a project from business partners Bodhi Freedom (who owns Bacchus Wine Bar in Nob Hill) and Peter Goggin. The pair is hoping to open their new place in March, though there are still final inspections to get through.

I had a chance to check out the space and chat with the partners about their plans. Architect Wylie Price, who also worked on Trick Dog, Fatted Calf, and Presidio Social Club, designed the space, which seats 38. It feels spare but warm, and the seating areas are divided into intimate corners. Much of the furniture comes from owner Freedom’s personal collection of vintage postwar-era (he hates the word midcentury) pieces. The result is that each little area feels like your most stylish friend’s living room, with leather couches, cool lighting, and fashionable lounge chairs.

Sebastian Parker, a furniture designer who also worked with Bar Agricole, is the builder on the project and is responsible for the long bar, which is built from salvaged eucalyptus from Marshall in West Marin; the light color and hard finish keep it on the right side of reclaimed ubiquity. Behind the bar is a pretty ingenious set of boxes for wine storage, each mounted onto metal brackets that have been painted different bright colors. At the base, brackets hold stemware, while bottles of wine are stored in the boxes above. The setup was inspired by this image from season three of Mad Men, which gives a good idea of the aesthetic of the place: stylish, sleek, and functional.

Both Goggin and Freedom love the neighborhood they’ve landed in and kind of geek out when they talk about the history of the location (apparently, the building survived the 1906 earthquake). The space used to be Force of Habit record store, and Goggin actually lived in the apartment above for a while. As a nod to that past, they’ve installed a record player and wired it into a stereo system, so all of the music played will be from vinyl. They also went out of their way to keep some of the original components of the space, like the exposed brick on one side of the dining room, which had to be sandblasted and scrubbed in order to stay. They are also going to feature a rotating art show in the restaurant, preferably with local artists. The opening show will feature Elaine Penwell, whose meticulous, detailed cut-paper pieces are stunning and warrant a visit on their own.

The kitchen is helmed by Anthony Paone, previously of Sea Salt in Berkeley. The focus of the menu will be on American heritage foods (Paone has made a mission of “reclaiming catsup” from its mass-produced reputation), mostly in the form of snacks and smaller bites, rather than large entreés. Everything will be made in-house, including an impressive lineup of condiments and preserves. Look for oysters with accompaniments, seasonal salads, and a changing meat sandwich, plus a good variety of domestic cheeses. Prices are in the $8-$18 range, and you can check out a sample of the menu here.

As for libations, there will be three beers and three wines on tap, with an additional 25 wines by the glass and about 100 on the bottle list (remember, Freedom owns a wine bar). There will also be about six beers availble by the bottle. The wine list will offer something for everyone, from leaner old-world styles to fuller-bodied California pours, with a focus on unusual, unadulterated flavors. For beer, the starting lineup will include Heroine IPA from Petaluma’s 101 North, California Common Lager from Linden Street, and Mt. Tam Pale Ale from Marin Brewing.

They’re not certain on an opening date yet, but the space is ready and they’re just waiting on final inspections; sometime in March is likely. The hours will be Sun-Mon and Wed 5pm-12am and Thu-Sat 5pm-1am, with the possibility of weekend brunch in the coming months. 3565 20th St. at Lexington, no phone yet.