Functional by Design

Mezcalito, San Francisco

Designer/Owner: Andalé Management Group
Highlight: Mezcal lockers

Mezcalito Photo courtesy of Andale Restaurant GroupMezcalito photos courtesy of Andale Restaurant Group

When San Francisco-based Andalé Management Group (AMG) decided to launch a new concept in the city’s Russian Hill neighborhood, they set out to celebrate mezcal, the traditional agave-based Mexican spirit, along with tequilas and a host of craft cocktails, wines and beers. A diverse menu of small plates featuring Oaxacan specialties provides sustenance, but Mezcalito caters especially to the cocktail crowd. The refurbished 2,200-square-foot space, which opened last September, has a variety of elevated seating styles and a casual, industrial-meets-contemporary, South-of-the-border style. According to AMG President Pedro Alvarez, it’s designed to welcome, educate and nurture a whole new group of mezcal aficionados.

Mezcalito close up Photo courtesy of Andale Restaurant GroupTo that end, a key design feature, and one that plays an integral branding role, is a set of 30 lockers built into the wall near the far end of the bar. Mezcalito promotes its locker program to regular customers, who are invited to purchase their own favorite bottles of mezcal and store them in a locker for their personal use.

“The program gets people who either already love mezcal or who are just discovering it excited to buy a bottle, especially small-batch, craft mezcals, and keep it here,” Alvarez says. “They get a key with a number on it that they just present to the server when they come in. We sell them the bottle but don’t charge other fees for the program. And there are other perks that members of the locker program get, such as priority seating if there’s a waiting list and advance email notices of special tasting events.”

Most of Mezcalito’s lockers are deep enough to hold multiple bottles and all are lit from beneath, adding to the wall’s design impact. “This was another way of generating interest in our brand, and the lockers are just visually interesting,” Alvarez adds. “Customers ask questions about them, which gives servers an opportunity to promote the program and talk about our 
mezcal expertise.”

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