As the Powell-Hyde cable car carves its way through Nob Hill, making its way along Washington Street at Leavenworth, riders can now catch a glimpse of Nob Hill General Store, an amply lit new corner store with a contemporary outlook.
Though the corner store only opened on January 14th, it's already become part of the neighborhood fabric.
"People walk by this place and ask, “Is this new, or have I always just missed it?" said Tim Talbot, who co-owns the store with his wife, Young-Mi Kim.
Talbot has 25 years in the food service industry, while Kim has a corporate background. Together, they decided to open a convenience store full of handpicked items, from liquor to frozen yogurt to snacks.
“Corner stores used to be the old 7-Elevens," said Kim, who designed the store. "You’d go to them for everything you need."
That includes “the best coffee on the hill,” according to the sign in the front window. It's sourced from Mission-based roaster Linea Caffe, “who tell you the level of altitude that the beans are from, who the growers are, the origin, the region," Talbot said. "I’m confident saying that [we have the best coffee], because of the care they put into their beans."
Talbot and Kim have made a conscious effort to feature local products, like Humphry Slocombe ice cream, Its-Its, Califia juices, and Harney & Sons tea. There's also beer, wine, and an array of spirits, many of them high-end. (However, Talbot noted that most of the wine runs between $8.99 and $15.)
“Being in the Bay Area, where the food and drink movement kind of started, we knew we could get a lot of good, local, organic products that you couldn’t necessarily get anywhere else,” Talbot said, adding that he encourages any local business, big or small, to pitch its products to the store.
And if you want a pint of Ben & Jerry's, a Cup-Noodles, a lottery ticket, or cigarettes, those are available too.
“We're not here to judge anyone,” said Kim.
The store features charcoal-gray shelves constructed by a carpenter at the Castro's Books & Bookshelves, which the couple chose to create "a unified look" with the tile floors and pressed-tin ceiling.
The focal point of the store's three aisles is a custom chalk mural of the store’s name and San Francisco scenery, created by local artist Dania Mallette of The Chalk Chica. Each store section also features hand-written menus (with prices) on miniature chalkboards.
“Writing as an art is going away, so I thought chalkboard writing might be a nice aesthetic to tie through the store,” Kim said.
The store also features a working vintage coffee grinder, and a working rotary pay phone with long-distance capability. Talbot says he encourages people to come out and take a selfie of themselves using the phone. (We obliged.)
Talbot and Kim plan to add outdoor seating and free wifi, along with a frozen yogurt dispenser with free cones for anyone under the age of 10. He won't be checking IDs, "but if you have to shave, you’re probably not going to get a free cone,” he joked.
Talbot reminisced about the days when people would come to convenience stores because they knew the guy behind the counter, and the place felt “very homey.”
But to better serve the neighborhood in a digital era, he and Kim are also considering setting up an online shopping portal, and offering neighborhood delivery services.
“We want everyone to come in and feel welcome,” he said, and Kim agreed: “I like the notion that we can carry everything that the community needs.”
Nob Hill General Store is currently open Monday-Friday from 7:30am-10pm. Kim and Talbot plan to introduce shorter weekend hours in the coming days.
Thanks to Molly F. and Jenny B. for the tip.
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