Hugo's Hidden Hotspot: Inside Wooly Pig Cafe

Hugo's Hidden Hotspot: Inside Wooly Pig Cafe
By Walter Thompson - Published on December 20, 2014.
Wooly Pig Cafe may be the only eatery tucked away on the six quiet blocks of Hugo Street, but the thriving little restaurant retains a cozy, familiar vibe despite its popularity.

Owner Lieng Souryavong said he was looking for a place to open a neighborhood cafe that caters to locals, and the location at Hugo and Third Avenue “just happened to be on sale.” He signed a 5-year lease and opened Wooly Pig Cafe on New Year’s Day 2011.

Has the neighborhood been receptive?

“We’ve been very lucky,” said Souryabong. “It’s been excellent.”

Souryavong used to manage The House restaurant in North Beach, but was looking for a spot where he could serve Asian-inspired sandwiches in a relaxed environment. 

"I’ve been in the service industry and managed numerous restaurants, and I just wanted more of a neighborhood spot. More personalized."

While we were chatting, he paused to fill a large mug with coffee. Seconds later, a woman entered and approached the register; Souryavong greeted her by name and handed her the coffee with a sandwich she ordered via phone. They caught up with each other before she sat down for lunch.

“It’s the personalized service,” Souryavong said. “The food they like, too. But I think they care more about the service they get here. We know people by name, we know what sandwiches they like, we know what they don’t like.”

On a Sunday afternoon, the five tables inside were packed with customers; one couple sat outside at one of four tables and ate in silence, using only facial expressions and indistinct sounds to communicate.

Wooly Pig Cafe has three employees, but Souryavong is seeking more part-time help. We asked if previous experience is required. “Definitely!” 

Open 7 days a week, Wooly Pig is located at 205 Hugo Street between Third and Fourth Aves. (415) 592-8015.