Little Vine - Eight Inc.

Little Vine.
A Small Business with A Big Impact.

“Eight Inc. has created a space in all of San Francisco that captures authenticity. To be in a city full of amazing restaurants and know yours is the most unique is something very special.” – Little Vine Owner, Jay Esopenko

Our collaboration with San Francisco restauranteurs Jay Esopenko and Melissa Gugni began in 2013. Being notable and dedicated North Beach residents and part of a small community in a big city, a big factor for them with the three businesses they owned was to create those different experiences for their neighborhood.

With their passion for exclusive wines and good food and our design expertise, we wanted to create memorable dining experiences for the city of San Francisco.

Union Larder

The Union Larder space was originally part of an old parking garage and mechanic space built in the 1920’s. Existing concrete structures have been exposed and large structural steel elements have been added, which influenced the aesthetics and design language of the space.

Together with a local blacksmith, sign maker and craftsmen, tables, chairs and light fixtures were designed that reference the industrial nature of the building. The interior was supplemented with selected pieces of reclaimed furniture tastefully integrated into the space. Flooded with natural light – the windows open up to the Hyde Street Cable Car line – and a material palette consisting of leather, wood, blackened steel and zinc, a warm, intimate and sophisticated atmosphere is created.

Partnerships with local vineries and a unique selection of wines are complemented with an exclusive offering of cheeses, charcuterie, oysters and more. With 30 seats at the bar and communal tables, Union Larder will be a hub for the local community, reviving the North Beach neighborhood.

The Salzburg

Little Vine’s newest restaurant, The Salzburg, offers a cozy refuge in the city where customers can escape the evening chill, gather with friends and feast on Austrian inspired fare. The design is inspired by memories of hiking from hut to hut on the Central Eastern Alps as rustic furnishings and soft lighting to create a charming backdrop to the menu of home-made sausages and local wines.

The design consisted of three key vernaculars commonly found in the Alps –  The stucco base serving as the foundation of any hut, the exposed timber construction and the raw saw wood siding. The signature element that sets the tone for the entire space is the starburst symbol, a key token of the Alps. It is represented throughout the restaurant’s unique facade and concealed throughout the interior. When you see the facade from Union Street, only upon closer proximity will you be aware of the door and entrance to this gem. During the day, the light shines in through the starbursts illuminating beautiful patterns onto the wall and the furniture. In the evening, the inside light omits out to create a constellation highlighting its presence.

The overall space consists of a simple material palette using red wood, walnut, birch bark, blackened steel details and an oak floor brought in from Europe. The gable inserted into the space is a narrow and tall volume that through the addition of the gable structure becomes more intimate and of human scale evoking the construction in Europe of the huts creating a nice juxtaposition of the existing space and the idea of where we took inspiration from.  The space includes an elongated bar, dining booths, a courtyard with an open gas fireplace space that evokes the warmth of the huts, cellar and a private dining room.


Photography for Union Larder by Gundolf Pfotenhauer
Photography for The Salzburg by Patricia Chang