Everyone wants to know what will replace the legendary Revolution Cafe, so drum roll please… Or, should we say, please strike a chord?
Ivory & Vine, a new wine bar that promises Greek bites and live music, will open officially April 19 at the spot at 22nd and Bartlett streets. Expect plenty of variety in the bottles; owner Christopher L. Nickolopoulos owns another wine bar in Hayes Valley, is the founder of wine production company Maritime Wine Trading Collective, and produces wine in Napa and Sonoma.
The bar offers outdoor seating and will sell wines, local craft beer and Greek mezze, or appetizers. It’s located at 3248 22nd St., where Revolution Cafe once was, and it plans to have classical and jazz music Thursday through Sundays. But music is not the only link the historic institution shares with Ivory & Vine.
When Nickolopoulos first moved to San Francisco, he lived near a “beautiful little cafe” called Momi Toby’s Revolution Cafe in Hayes Valley. One da,y a friend in the wine business told him the spot was open for rent. Would he want to convert it into a wine bar?
“It was still right in the middle of the pandemic,” Nickolopoulos said. The idea was “either really stupid, or, really stupid.”
But he did it anyway, and launched a little bar called Linden & Laguna at 528 Laguna St. Turns out, Linden & Laguna’s building owner also owns the building housing Revolution Cafe, and after approving of Linden & Laguna, the owner encouraged Nickolopoulos to start another venture in the Mission.
“I said, ‘no way, I got my hands full,’” Nickolopoulos said. Then, suddenly he recalled how Revolution Cafe used to be called Papa Toby’s Revolution Cafe — a.k.a., the iconic Revolution Cafe. He immediately thought of Momi Toby’s.
“I was like wait; that’s interesting, they are related,” Nickolopoulos recalled. The building owner said, “‘Yeah. And they can be related again.”
Talk about a revolution — what goes around, comes around.
How could Nickolopoulos say no to that? And Revolution Cafe’s tradition of jazz and classical music spilling out from its doors promises to continue. Nickolopoulos is on the board of the Golden Gate Symphony, and has lineup plans in the works.
On Thursday night, Ivory & Wine soft opened and invited a bunch of Mission figures to hang out. Paula Tejeda of Chile Lindo was in attendance, and posted on Facebook: “Ivory & Vine — THE NEW REV!”
“There’s a nice, old Bohemian community that loves that spot, and I respect that legacy of the place,” Nickolopoulos said. “A lot of them showed up yesterday and had a lot of fun and got reacquainted.”
Another nod to the neighborhood’s musical history is a baby grand piano installed at the bar. It’s nearly 100 years old, Nickolopoulos says, and is a relic from the old Mission Second Church of Christ Scientist building on Dolores Street. Nickolopoulos spotted the baby grand piano during a visit he took right after the church sold the site to developers.
“I played a few chords on it and fell in love. I said, ‘What happens to the piano?’ She said, ‘well if you make a donation to the parish, it’s yours.’ So I made a donation,” he said. His friends stopped by and wheeled it down the street to his house where it lived up until now.
Already, a “wonderful” pianist used it at Thursday’s soft-opening, the owner said. “I kinda feel like it belongs to the Mission. To share it with the music loving mission community is a cool thing,” Nickolopoulos said.
That piano will make home in the newly renovated building, which was also retrofitted for earthquakes. The building owner helped bring it to code and put in fixtures. The design is completely different from Revolution Cafe; there’s handlaid Spanish tiles and a counter stacked full of wines imported from Spain, Italy, New Zealand, and from Nickolopoulos company.
The food menu theme is mezze, or a Greek appetizer. Think of any comfort food your Greek grandmother might make: Horiatiki village salad, a riff on greek salad, pita, gyro sandwiches. As a descendant of Greek restauranteurs in the midwest, food, wine and community have always remained strong tenets in his life.
It’s “an environment and a process and a ritual that I feel very at home with. It’s kind of like my safe place,” Nickolopoulos said.