Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Food & Drinks
Published on August 19, 2020
SF Eats: Lightbox Café opens in SoMa; Douglas closes in Noe Valley; Happy Lemon makes SF debutPhoto: Lightbox Cafe/Facebook

Here'e the latest in SF food news. In this edition: a new cafe opens in SoMa, a Noe Valley market says farewell for now, and a bubble tea chain will open two San Francisco locations.


Lightbox Cafe (221 Main St.)

Photo: Lightbox Cafe/Facebook

This week was the first for Lightbox Café, located on the ground floor of the DocuSign building in Rincon Hill.

Despite the decline in foot traffic in the office-heavy neighborhood, owner Hugo Santana decided to press on with his casual café, in the space formerly home to Main Tower Deli.

The business developed from a chance encounter in November 2019, when Santana offered banana bread to the building's managers, in the hopes that they would patronize his catering company.

Now, customers can enjoy the banana bread daily, alongside a full menu of toasts, salads, sandwiches, tacos and flatbread pizzas. (Sanchez still does catering, too.)

The café also boasts a full espresso bar with beans from Verve, and has a beer and wine license. For those who want to dine in, a few covered outdoor tables are available; otherwise, there's takeout or delivery. 

Hours are 6:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. Happy hour, from 3 to 7 p.m., features special appetizers to accompany the drinks.

Noe Valley

Douglas (1598 Sanchez St.)

Douglas. | Photo: Dejana B./Yelp

Noe Valley's gourmet market, Douglas, will close for good at the end of August, according to a post on Instagram.

The market had become a lifeline for local restaurants in recent months, selling to-go meal kits from the likes of State Bird ProvisionsKin Khao and Rintaro. It also sold produce, dairy, wine, bread and other pantry staples, largely sourced from local farms and producers. 

But it was ultimately felled by failed negotiations with its landlord, as owners Michael Molesky and Maggie Spicer noted on Instagram.

"Fortunately, this is not the end of the story, but it does make for some big changes ahead," they write.

The duo hope to bring back Douglas in a different location at a later date. For now, they'll be keeping up the to-go meal kit side of the business, which they've dubbed Benne.

Benne will accept online orders for food in advance, offering pickup at the Mission's 18 Reasons, Russian Hill's Biondivino and (for now) Douglas. Current offerings include khao soi from Nari, dumplings from Mister Jiu's and tea leaf salad from Burma Love, but the dishes will rotate regularly. 

Embarcadero and Mission Bay

Happy Lemon (99 Drumm St. & 1320 Fourth St.)

Happy Lemon on Drumm Street. | Photo: Albertino M./Hoodline Tipline

Bubble tea chain Happy Lemon will open two locations in San Francisco next week — one in the Financial District, the other in Mission Bay. 

The worldwide chain, with 35 Northern California stores, also has a third location under construction at the Salesforce Transit Center (425 Mission St.) Its opening date remains to be determined. 

Established in China in 1996, Happy Lemon is best known for its "cheese tea," made with a layer of creamy, salted foam. It also offers standard options: milk tea, fruit tea and smoothies, with or without boba. 

While Happy Lemon is known for offering buy-one, get-one deals each time it opens a new location, it's postponing that deal during the COVID-19 pandemic, a representative said.

Hours for the Drumm Street location will be Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., while the Fourth Street location will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Boba fans can pre-order by phone at (415) 362-6007 (Drumm Street) and (415) 757-0968 (Fourth Street), as well as via DoorDash.

Thanks to our stalwart tipster Al M.! If you've seen something new (or closing) in the neighborhood, text your tips and photos to (415) 200-3233, or email [email protected]. If we use your info in a story, we'll give you credit.