Mr. Digby's, a casual restaurant and cocktail spot from a couple with established SF restaurant cred in the former Noe's Cantina space (1199 Church St.), is now aiming for an April opening after being delayed nearly a year by the pandemic.
As Hoodline reported last January, Noe's Cantina closed after a brief, one-year run, with owner Tommy Basso — whose father Wayne Basso had owned the building since 1980 — saying that it wasn't worth it to try to do business in the neighborhood anymore, with so many people staying home, ordering in, and shopping online. (This was pre-COVID, mind you.)
"Noe Valley hasn’t been like this in 20 years,” Basso said. “And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. People aren’t spending money but they have a lot of it."
Basso sold the building to neighborhood couple Kristen and Michael McCaffery. Kristen McCaffery and her sisters co-own the nearby Greek restaurant Novy (4000 24th St.), and Michael McCaffery helped to open Mission Rock Resort in his former role with Golden Bear Restaurant Group. As the McCafferys told Eater last year, the plan was to open an American pub concept with a focus on cocktails, using Balboa Cafe and Wayfare Tavern as inspiration.
The concept is coming clearer now, as Eater newly reports, with a name taken from a beloved dog from Michael McCaffery's childhood, an English sheepdog named Digby. McCaffery says that the name expresses a vibe for him that feels right for the family-focused neighborhood.
As he tells Eater, "[Digby] would sit on the front lawn, and he was just the gentlest, kindest dog who everyone in the neighborhood knew. And that’s kind of what we wanted this bar to be. Just a place that everyone in the neighborhood feels comfortable with, whether it’s a weeknight or a special occasion."
The details of the menu remain vague, with promises of burgers, deviled eggs, spinach dip, and Salisbury steak meatballs — with a mix of bar bites, entrees including seasonal fish, and sandwiches and salads on the menu. And there will be cold martinis and other strong cocktails, with a remodel being handled by the design firm ROY (Riddler, Wildseed).
An April opening is the goal, but these things often move and shift. The McCafferys want to start with a takeout window and a handful of tables in their under-construction outdoor parklet, and then take it from there.
With indoor dining already underway citywide at 25% capacity, and 50% capacity highly likely to be on the horizon by April, Mr. Digby's should be able to do bar bites and drinks at the bar fairly soon.