Located on the city’s south side, the Excelsior is a small neighborhood tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco. Multi-generational families, SF newcomers, and everyone in between who call this neighborhood home can be found mingling along its Mission Street corridor. For the 12th San Francisco Merchant Walk, Airbnb partnered with Excelsior residents to guide hosts through the arts and small businesses that make this area unique.
Shirley Do, owner of Sippin’ Wine Bar, welcomed hosts to the neighborhood as the first stop of the night. Upon arrival, hosts glimpsed two haunts for guests seeking a night out: Sippin’s upstairs space for wine and catching up with friends, and Bottoms Up, the bar below, for beers, DJ’s, and Warriors games.
The rich arts history of the Excelsior was central to this merchant tour. Stops commemorating Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia’s childhood home and the murals adorning the Excelsior Branch of the San Francisco Public Library highlighted homegrown talent and neighborhood character.
On the corner of Mission and Harrington Streets, hosts paused to admire the commemorative plaque dedicated to Garcia. The Grateful Dead’s historic connection to San Francisco is common knowledge, but few know that Garcia hails from the Excelsior. Two plaques were unveiled in 2016 to memorialize their native son’s legacy. The plaques were a collaborative effort between the Garcia Family, Friends and Advocates of Crocker Amazon and the Excelsior, and former district Supervisor John Avalos.
As the group explored the neighborhood, the Excelsior’s eye catching murals proved to be an attraction all their own. Groups stopped outside the Excelsior Branch Library to observe Green the Excelsior through Art, an outdoor art gallery presented by the Excelsior Action Group. The gallery consists of five paintings by local artists and the artwork depicts various nature scenes which aim to bring the great outdoors to Mission Street.
At the next stop, hosts browsed Stevens Books, a new local favorite that stocks everything from crisp new editions to used copies of best sellers. Hosts browsed the varied selection and enjoyed a generous 20% discount on their purchases. Joseph Volansky, of Stevens Books, talked to hosts about how he’s managed to make the store more family and community oriented. He achieved his vision by including a children’s reading room, holding weekly story time, and offering free art classes to the neighborhood.
To wrap up the tour, all 32 attending hosts reconvened at Rocks Den for dinner and drinks. Hosts enjoyed Korean barbecue from Hwaro, bahn mi from Ty Sandwiches, and dumplings from Henry’s Hunan. Albert Lee, Rocks Den owner since 2015, talked about the Excelsior’s rich history and expressed his disappointment that the neighborhood doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. He noted, “I would love to have more Airbnb guests in the area,” which is something many local hosts hope for as well.
Shirley of Sippin’ Wine Bar “enjoys that people around the neighborhood are visiting [the] small businesses.” With few hotel options in the neighborhood, Airbnb guests help support the area’s businesses.
The Excelsior is known for its strong community character and sense of pride. Thank you to the Excelsior Action Group for providing goodie bags for our hosts, Joelle Kenealey (Outer Mission Merchants and Residents Association) for contributing with the event, Linda and Joe Litehiser for curating the tour, and all of our small business partners for sharing their neighborhood with our citywide hosts.