A family-run restaurant exits 24th Street – gladly

Montella Pizzeria, 3161 24th Street. Photo by Lola M. Chavez

After just a year-and-a-half in its 3161 24th St. storefront, the family-run Montella Pizzeria is set to close its doors in July, and moving into its place will be Korean bar and restaurant Foxsister by San Francisco Chef Brandon Kirksey.

Gustavo Lopez, son of Montella’s proprietor, Esteban Lopez, said that while business on 24th Street corridor was good, the family has decided to exit the restaurant business to pursue other endeavors.

“We’ve been in the business a long time and to be honest with you, we are just kind of tired,” said Lopez, who has been involved in the family business since he was six years old. His father has been in the business for some 40 years and is looking to retire.

“We gave it a year to see how we felt but it’s just not working out for us,” he said. His father declined to comment.

Taking over the space is  first-time restaurateur Kirksey, the former chef de cuisine at the upscale Vietnamese restaurant Slanted Door.

Kirksey has had a previous stint in the Mission, at Flour + Water at 20th and Harrison streets. David Steele, the founder of that restaurant, is now lending his expertise to Kirksey as a consultant to Foxsister.

Kirksey said that Montella’s space lends itself to his envisioned cozy-neighborhood-bar-serving-Korean-food concept.

“I want it to be approachable and affordable,” said Kirksey, who will take over the space with a 10-year-lease in July with plans to open as Foxsister sometime in September. “We want to create a fun environment for people in the neighborhood to come in, drink beer and Soju cocktails and slushies,” he said.

Most recently, Kirksey has been serving up Korean food at a pop-up series for Feastly, and online platform connecting cooks and diners in the cook’s homes.

He hopes that his first restaurant in the heart of the Mission will capture some of the the street’s “vibrant spirit.”

With the Montella space recently renovated, the physical build-out will be minimal, said Kirksey.

“We will put our brand and style on it, which is a cozy neighborhood bar,” he said. Kirksey promises cheap beer pitchers, a selected list of hard-to-get Asian beers,  and creative Soju concoctions. The bar and restaurant will have several TV screens streaming sports games.
The restaurateurs’ transition seems to be amicable. “I couldn’t be happier to move to 24th Street,” said Kirksey – while the Lopez’ are happy to get out.

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10 Comments

  1. It’s unfortunately this new restaurant does not fit into the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District and we will not be supporting. Through our out reach to the community 3 years ago, it was very clear that the local community do want not Calle 24 to turn into Valencia St.

    • kristen panti

      Yes, I agree. I thought the whole point of the Special Use District is that new businesses would not be overt gentrifiers–with roots in “upscale” restaurants catering to high net worth individuals. This place seems to be exactly that.

    • Mike Ponse

      Please tell me why it doesn’t fit

      • Amber Terán

        Because this is the heart of the Latino Community and does not fit the our Latino culture that is fighting to be here and is being pushed out right now.

  2. The restaurant sounds like a great idea but not for 24th St. It is the heart of the Latino Community and this restaurant does not represent the culture at all. If people want the Mission to stay full of art culture music and vibrancy then keep it with businesses that fit.

  3. Michael Andrade

    I will not be supporting this new business because it does not fit into the community. We don’t need another hipster restaurant.

  4. Sally yu

    … and keep it an empty storefront.???

  5. Gemma Jones

    a cozy neighborhood bar with cheap beer pitchers and Korean food is not quite overt gentrification; sounds more like certain people are not welcome on 24th St

  6. KATHY LIPSCOMB

    THIS KIND OF RESTAURANT DOES NOT FIT IN WITH THE INTENTIONS OF THE CALLE 24 LATINO CULTURAL DISTRICT. IT’S GOING TO BE PRICEY AND FANCY. A CHEF FROM “SLANTED DOOR” SAYS IT ALL. PROBABLY DELICIOUS, BUT WILL QUICKLY BE OUT OF PRICE RANGE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN MISSION. LET’S TRY FOR A MORE DOWNHOME PLACE.

  7. Sorry to hear that Montella Pizzeria will be closing. The food was delicious and fresh. The service was very Family Friendly.

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