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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heart Owner Jeff Segal Wants to Take the Egghead Intimidation Out of Wine

Posted By on Thu, Jan 7, 2010 at 1:55 PM

click to enlarge Jeff Segal - JAMIL WILLIAMS
  • Jamil Williams
  • Jeff Segal
Yesterday we reported on Kitchenette owner Douglas Monsalud's larder-inspired menu for Heart, the wine bar and small-plates place slated to open later this month at the quiet end of Valencia. It's a collaboration by Kitchenette and Jeff Segal.

Never heard of Segal? You're not alone. Seven months ago, the financial journalist quit his job to focus solely on Heart. "I live in the Mission, and I saw a really big need in the community for a place that brought wine and food to a place that makes it accessible," Segal told us. "I've been waiting my whole life to start a wine bar and restaurant like this."

Heart's logo: Goodbye Hello Kitty, hello stumpy aorta.
  • Heart's logo: Goodbye Hello Kitty, hello stumpy aorta.
It's been a relatively short wait. Segal is only 25, and he's never actually owned a food business. But he's convinced he has a vision with a whiff of originality, at least for San Francisco: a locus of little-appreciated wines and craft beers ― dry sherries and ciders, too ― in a seriously casual setting. "The Mission is more open-minded than other parts of the city, and a little younger," Segal said. "Customers will be open to trying wine that would be a much harder sell Downtown or in the Marina." Though he admires Terroir on Folsom, Segal wants Heart to be as informal as a beer pub, and with none of the egghead intimidation even neighborhood wine bars give off.

Segal is sourcing mostly French, Italian, and Spanish wines from importers with connections to small families and what he calls backwoods farmers. "It's somewhat of a Kermit Lynch approach, obscure varietals and grapes that most people don't have access to," Segal said. Bottles will range from $8 to the hundreds, served in glasses ranging from traditional stemware to tumblers and Mason jars. And Heart will be an art gallery too, with its own director, Karyn Hunt, and shows that rotate every two months.

Even the name ― Heart ― Segal wants to be, not some Hello Kitty emblem of cute, but taken in what he calls its most visceral sense: "the heart of the community, products made from the heart," he said. Segal cites the community spirit pumping through Mission small-business incubator La Cocina as yet another inspiration. Even Heart's logo depicts the anatomical organ, complete with veins and stumpy aorta.

"We want it all to have a strong sense of character," Segal said.

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