Back in 2011, David Baeli and his friends all moved from different parts of the country to San Francisco, California in order to open their restaurant Hops & Hominy. Hops refers to the large array of microbrew beers that the restaurant carries from small scale breweries around the United States. Hominy is a testament to the classic southern cuisine that the restaurant specializes in.
The co-owners of the restaurant all grew up in Ocala, a northern Florida city with a profoundly southern feel. This is what inspired the Hops & Hominy menu.
“It’s basically comfort food. We do everything from fried chicken, collard greens, mac and cheese, and barbecue,” Baeli explains. “Our bar program is focused on craft beers as well as a craft cocktail program and an extensive wine list.”
In mid-March of 2020, Hops & Hominy decided to temporarily close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Baeli and the team later reopened for takeout and, still wanting to assist local residents, created a small online grocery store with items like eggs, butter, buttermilk, toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
“We did have some products on the shelf that we thought would be better in the hands of the people that might need it most, especially considering that some grocery stores are being closed and access to high quality food that we source might become a problem,” says Baeli. “So, we’ve devoted our business plan to take some of the bulk stuff that we were able to purchase and portion it into household sizes and then just redistribute some of those items.”
While not their traditional business by any means, Baeli is pleased with the benefit it has provided to the community. Hops & Hominy exists in the Tillman Place neighborhood of San Francisco. There aren’t many residences here, but those who do call Tillman Place home have limited grocery store options. Hops & Hominy has made life much easier, particularly during a global crisis.
The altruistic restaurant remains running, though Baeli admits that they’re seeing less than 10% of regular business. He remains hopeful though that Hops & Hominy will persevere and be able to open back up when the time proves right.
“We were able to use funding and business savings as well as additional investments to continue to pay our employees when we thought it was going to be a little bit more of a short-term problem, but after about eight weeks or a little bit longer we eventually did have to furlough most of our staff,” Baeli shares.
The restaurant owner emphasizes that as long as those in the restaurant industry who have always been a resilient group of hardworking people stay healthy, they’ll be able to continue coming up with innovative solutions for this precarious situation.
“People in San Francisco, just like people all over the country and the world, can help out by being responsible and staying indoors when necessary and wearing masks in public places. It’s going to be a long haul for all of us to get through this, but the things that are most concerning for us are for people to stay safe.”