A Modern Grocery Store With Traditional Touches
Today in the Mission marks the opening of a new grocery emporium that has both modern and old school touches. Local Mission Market (2670 Harrison at 23rd St.; 415-795-3395) is the project from Yaron Milgrom and Chef Jake Des Voignes, who also operate the nearby Local’s Corner and Local Mission Eatery restaurants.
In the pleasant and airy space, products are made by hand in a commissary kitchen, from fresh bread and crackers to hot sauce, jams (a persimmon number looked appealing) and stocks, sofrito, vanilla extract (that’s a first for this writer) and vinegars in attractive demi-johns. The store seems geared to our hustle bustle culture: we want to make a nice meal from scratch, which is possible with fresh from the farm (and sea) ingredients here.
The reality, according to Milgrom, is like the New York Times food scribe Pete Wells so aptly documented: we often can’t cook anything at the end of a long workday. For those wanting a little help by way of pre-made food, you can order anything in the store ahead. It’s easy to have prepared foods and produce delivered, or select some chicken carcasses and appropriate stock fixins to finish the cooking at home. Down the line, look for possible dishes in a cast iron skillet, for those times you want to lay out the food to look just like something Mom pulled off in cozy fashion (the skillets get returned). The kitchen will be the prep area for the two restaurants, and the small batch production can be ramped up accordingly.
All meat and dairy are organic and much of the produce is also certified organic—Milgrom uses his own young son as a reason for opening the store, because the tot has long spent time at farms and produce shopping with his dad, and ever the savvy eater, asks “Where is this from?” It is good to see Milgrom grow his food operations and his enthusiasm for his adopted neighborhood.
Local craft persons helped build the store, and there are catchy touches like the wood used for the counter, from a Black Acacia tree found in the Laurel Heights area. The team purposefully got rid of aisles and the kitchen is open enough that you can see the faces at work there—turn this way, and it’s a pretty wooden crate of local apples, that way and pine for a luscious display of cheeses.
Milgrom said of the 2,700 square foot space, "The culinary team has been cooking up a storm of incredible products for the shelves. Tasting it all, seeing it labeled and on the shelves--we've been waiting for this moment." Prepared foods are made on site by a professional kitchen staff, and there is a labeling system back there as well. An in-house butcher will be easily accessible and expect a variety of fresh and local seafood.
Modern day life definitely calls for caffeine, which can be had here. Coffee and tea are not local products since they are grown half a world away but the store wisely has a special area for locally roasted tea and coffee, nestled next to a spice and chocolate zone. On a media tour last week, I was also drawn to the bulk bin section, which is set up in a clean and organized fashion based on the experience of Milgrom’s uncle, an attorney who dealt with a particular injury lawsuit. There is space between the bins to allow for the inevitable drop of beans or rice—allowing a “safe catch” kind of mechanism so no beans will be afoot, potentially causing accidents and injury (or, a kid to try it as a snack). There is also an Ipad, for easy weighing and labeling—say bye-bye to the scratch of that pen-on-a-chain for the little twist ties, since here you can just print the label out and go. In turn, the label is easily scanned so that staff do not have to look up price and weight--another modern touch.
The tech touches also allow the market to keep lines from getting crazy, since Milgrom sees no reason for grocery shopping to feel like the hectic waits and misery found at an airport. Staff can check customers out in line via scanner—if this is the future of shopping, sign me up.