In January, Russian Hill coffeehouse The Brew (2436 Polk St.) closed, to the dismay of many neighbors. But after sitting vacant for nearly 10 months, the space will soon welcome a new cafe and coffeehouse, The Fueling Station, which should open later this month.
The Fueling Station is owner Lillian Wong's first solo venture, but she's been a part of eateries in Bernal Heights and West Portal in the past. She told us that she has had some great mentors who have helped her hone her skills, and now feels ready to venture out on her own. "There's nothing like learning in the trenches," she told us.
As for the location, "I didn't choose this neighborhood—I simply returned home to where I started," she said. "Russian Hill was the first neighborhood I lived in in San Francisco."
Wong spent her early years in Russian Hill and attended Sherman Elementary School, but her family eventually moved to the Sunset in "the mass west migration of the '80s—seeking the promise of parking!" she quipped. She returned in her college days, working for Carol Martucci at Russian Hill Bookstore.
As a result, she has many fond memories of the neighborhood. "My grandmother and I tried every flavor of ice cream at Swensen's ... it's where I honed my palate, from pork dumplings in Chinatown to green onion focaccia in North Beach. This neighborhood is the gateway to everything I love about San Francisco."
For The Filling Station, which will serve Contraband Coffee, she's been "agonizing over everything from the color of the tiles on the floor to what made the cut on the menu," which is still a work in progress. She hopes to feature "classics with a twist," from hand-carved turkey sandwiches to Vietnamese banh mi to a Caprese waffle.
"If you love fresh mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and pesto in a liege waffle, this is for you," she said.
There will also be house-made sauces and smears, from a sriracha aioli to a whiskey BBQ sauce, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian items.
To round out the menu, Wong is collaborating with local vendors like House Kombucha, and Suite Foods Waffles. Once she gets up and running, she's also plotting a "Tea Time Happy Hour" from 3-5pm daily, with half-price menu items for those who order a pot of tea.
Even though an official opening date has not yet been finalized, The Fueling Station is holding an open house this Saturday, November 5th from 12:30-2:30pm, to give neighbors a taste of what's to come. All are welcome, Wong said.
Thanks to Michael C. for the tip.
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