Photo by Julian Mark

Young entrepreneurs, beware: by June, Valencia Street will be getting a permanent lemonade stand near the corner of 20th Street.

Its name? Gourmonade. And it will serve the “the best, freshest, realest lemonade possible,” says Gourmande owner and founder, Vicktor Stevenson, who, in a past life, did “all things hair.”

“I want people to taste lemon when they try my lemonade,” Stevenson said.

Ironically, the idea for the beverage company came to Stevenson two years ago in New York as he was waiting out a snow storm. For some reason, Stevenson explained, he had a craving for lemonade, but there was none to be found — only grocery store imitations.

“I thought what we were going to get would be close — but nothing,” he said. “It propelled me on the journey to make it myself.”

Stevenson launched Gourmonade last June, participating in popups around the city and squeezing a lot of lemons. “It’s truly a labor of love to squeeze lemons for hours at time,” he said.

Stevenson said he’s always had a liking for the little flower stand that once faced Valencia Street from the V20 apartment building. He had bought his wife flowers there, and it had always “spoken” to him.

“It’s already yellow,” he said referring to the building. “It’s meant to be.”

He chose to open in the Mission because he “practically lives on Valencia.” “If we’re not Boba Guys, we’re at Pica Pica or Dandelion,” he said.

Upon opening, Gourmonade will serve only three flavors: classic, Jasmine (Arnold) Palmer, and a less-sweet lemonade. But, in time, he will slowly introduce more creative flavors, such as blueberry-basil and ginger.

We are delighted that the lemonade stand is doing something there,” said Jefferson McCarley of the Valencia Corridor Merchants Association.

McCarley explained that anything to activate the portion of the block is welcome. He and other merchants expressed a similar sentiment upon learning that a high-end salad joint is moving into the former space of the Mexican cantina La Rondalla.

That portion of the corridor, he said, turned into a “dead zone” after the V20 apartment building opened and, with it, a medical center on the ground floor that attracts no foot traffic.

The association had, in fact, fought to have the small booth installed as a compromise for having a medical center occupy ground floor space.

For a time, Mission De Flores, a local flower business, occupied the booth, but it did not stay long.

“It was horrible,” Steve Rubenfaer, the owner of the flower shop, said in an email.

He said he ultimately left because the stand was not waterproof, he regularly “lost product,” and the landlord was “negligent with repairs.”

Rubenfaer did not respond to Mission Local’s requests for the landlord’s name, but public records show it’s owned by “Tabcommv LLC,” which is registered to a lawyer named Allison Surowitz.

Likewise, Stevenson said the landlord “would rather remain discreet.”  

Rubenfaer did say, however — judging from his past experiences with the mysterious landlord —  I “feel bad for the lemonade stand.”  

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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