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We Wanna Be Friends With: Dan Nguyen-Tan of PUBLIC Bikes

Dan Nguyen-Tan of Public Bikes

Stylists: Retrofit Republic, Photo credit: Isabella Bejargno

Our city is chock-full of interesting people and wild personalities. Overwhelmed by the coolness? Every week we'll pick one standout local we'd love to be friends with to answer seven essential questions about their life in San Francisco.

In every picture we see of Dan Nguyen-Tan, he is infectiously grinning from ear to ear. Now that we think about it, we might be too if we were a co-founder of beloved local bicycle retailer PUBLIC Bikes, social affairs supporter and Burning Man aficionado (he camps with Black Rock Roller Disco, if you must know).

It's only taken three years for PUBLIC Bikes to go from a pet project inspired by a trip to Amsterdam to an iconic SF brand, and we're assured Dan's sense of humor and commitment to this city had a lot to do with that.

Dan has served on the Boards of SF League of Conservation Voters, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Chinatown Community Development Center –and currently serves on the Citizen's Advisory Committee for the proposed Warriors Arena (so jealous). Along with supporting our community, he's also helping take PUBLIC national. Kimpton hotels just started supplying their guests with custom-designed, cherry red PUBLIC bikes to tool around on, so be sure to give those biking tourists an extra enthusiastic hello when you see them on the road! 

1. What neighborhood do you currently call home? Would you ever move or are you happy in your 'hood?

I live in this microhood that I affectionately call DMV Heights–one block from the DMV along the new Oak Street green bicycle lane. Or as my real estate friends might say, I live “two blocks from the new Bi-Rite.”

I’m perfectly content where I live. I’m centrally located so I can quickly bike through the Panhandle to Golden Gate Park or take the Wiggle to work. If I move, it would be to live in a different country.

2. What's your hands-down, absolute favorite thing to eat in SF?

There are too many amazing choices in this city. Just in my neighborhood alone I’ll frequently walk to eat at Nopalito, Green Chile Kitchen, Waziema, Little Chihuahua, Ragazza, and so many others. But in a city where going out to eat is so commonplace, my favorites meals are home cooked by my friends Glenn, Cindy, Fairuz, Vinny, Ian, or Dawn. When they cook, magic happens.

3. What's your perfect night on the town?

A perfect night is a full moon evening bicycle ride through the city, ending up at Ocean Beach for a bonfire, and finishing with ice cream.

4. When you need a low-key afternoon, where do you go for down time?

I usually head straight to my couch, or any of my friend’s couches, for down time. But playing a game of Scrabble with a good friend in the deYoung’s outdoor sculpture garden area on a sunny day is a lovely way to spend a low-key afternoon.

5. What's your favorite place to go on a day trip from the city?

Biking around Stinson Beach and Bolinas is a wonderful way to spend a day away from the city.

6. Quick-fire round:

Burrito or Burger?

Burger. Make that two. 

Presidio or Golden Gate Park?

I spend more time in Golden Gate Park. I love stopping by Lindy in the Park, visiting my roller skating and lawn bowling friends, riding around Stow Lake, the fly fishing casting pools, and ending up at Ocean Beach. But I’m always awestruck by the coastal views from the Presidio – and I recently overnight camped at the Presidio’s Rob Hill Campground, which was absolutely amazing.

Bi-Rite or Mitchell's?

Bi-Rite’s Honey Lavender for breakfast, Mitchell’s Ube for lunch, Three Twins’ Lemon Cookie for dinner, and anything from Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous on weekends.

Bike or MUNI?

Is this a rhetorical question?

Fort Mason or Dolores Park?

I’m by the tennis courts. Yes, try to find me. 

The Independent or the Fillmore?

I can conveniently walk to The Independent in five minutes so I see more shows there. But I prefer the intimate sit-down vibe at Yoshi’s. 

Baker Beach or Ocean Beach?

Are the same shriveled guys who walk naked during Bay to Breakers still hanging out at Baker Beach? If so, I prefer Ocean Beach. But I do love the Baker Beach views of Marin Headlands – and knowing that Burning Man started there.

7. Three words that describe your life in SF?

Must. Find. Dessert.

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