In one of the most anticipated expansions in the city this year, Bi-Rite Market opened its doors on its second location on Divisadero today. The boutique market, formerly only found on 18th between Guerrero and Dolores, is a foodie haven, with hundreds of small-batch, locally sourced, hard-to-find products, great produce, affordable wines, and delectable ice cream, among other things. Unlike the Mission store, the new location has an ice cream counter built right into the market, and will certainly invite its own lines starting today, with temperatures expected to climb into the 70s.
See also: The Mill: Simply Delicious Baked Goods
When we stopped in around 11 a.m., the grocery store was nearly empty, a first for our forays into the market. We noticed with approval the new cut-to-order cheese counter, and that the store was clearly designed with crowd control in mind -- the deli counter is across the store from the registers, and the drinks are in back, meaning that customers should be able to avoid the clusterfuck that is navigating the deli counter and beer/wine cooler on a busy day in the Mission.
Other than that, the new Bi-Rite follows the same playbook: the same good, affordable wines, the same high-quality produce, the same tempting items in the deli section. There are more grab-and-go foods, which means we'll certainly be stopping there to stock our Alamo Square picnics in the near future.
The real question is how an upscale market like Bi-Rite will affect the neighborhood. It's a destination market, which means that it will be drawing in crowds from all over the city (especially since there's free one-hour parking on weeknights and weekends). With it and the newly opened Wine Kitchen and The Mill coffee shop and bakery down the street -- a co-venture between Four Barrel and toastmaker extraordinaire Josey Baker -- the grungy street is slowly but surely on its way to become the next Valencia.
It's already been announced that Lilah Belle's will be opening next week in a space at Divis and Eddy, slinging superfood smoothies and organic, healthy meals to go in individual and family sizes, according to Eater SF. And SFist reports that a massive "mezcaleria" named La Urbana is going into the empty Plant It Earth space at Divis and Grove.
Of course, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood is above $2,500, and the Divis corridor has already supported Nopa, Nopalito, Bar Crudo, Little Star, Mini Bar, and upscale grocery store Falletti Foods, so it's not like these sorts of places are unprecedented. It's just that they shared space with the Bean Bag Cafe, Club Waziema, Eddie's Cafe, and other spots that gave the neighborhood its character. Let's hope it doesn't lose its grungy roots in the name of gentrification.