Is This the Best Corner Store in All of San Francisco?

Cancilla Market

Bryan O’Sullivan (@bos31337) recently made a bold assertion:

Huh? Is humble Cancilla Market, on Folsom Street at the southwest corner of Precita Park, really “the best tiny little corner store in all of San Francisco?”

I can see how you’d make that argument. Cancilla’s came under new management not long ago, and it’s been a godsend for Bernalwood’s north slope. Under the regime of owner Gina Chu, Cancilla’s is now extremely well curated, filling a void that has long existed for Northsiders for whom The Good Life on Cortland is just too far away (and too far uphill) when you only need a little something-something.

Positioning itself somewhere between Bi-Rite and a standard corner store,  Cancilla’s has become a great place to grab a quart of milk, a quality piece of bread, some robust cheese (Bulgarian feta!), a good bottle of wine, yummy cured meats, organic green things, uncommon cooking ingredients… and kimchi. But in a respectful nod to traditionalists, you can still get a 24-ounce can of PBR:

But really? “The best tiny little corner store in all of San Francisco?” Since I live just a block away, I’m willing to believe.

Photos: Telstar Logistics

22 thoughts on “Is This the Best Corner Store in All of San Francisco?

  1. Cancilla is a great store, but I’m voting for 26th & Guerrero. No, it’s not Bernal, but you did mention “in all of San Francisco.” I think everyone has a favorite corner store, because how good that store is partially depends on how convenient it is.

  2. I love this market too. Such a transformation from the jenky corner store it once was. Great organic brands and reasonable prices.They have really good bread there. I had an amazing mango last night as well. It is nice to know that this place is here so I don’t have to go to the grocery store for everything.

  3. Yes, it’s wonderful. I started getting organic milk there just to say hi to the people who work there. Cafe Cozzolino should take note– if they bothered to upgrade their icky menu, business could really take off.

      • I agree with this wholeheartedly. We eat Italian food several times a week and support neighbourhood businesses above all else, but Pasta Pomodoro over on 24th Noe comes up before Cafe Cozallino when we’ve exhausted all the other local options. Well, “before” isn’t really the right word, since it NEVER comes up, except when we drive by and think for a second “maybe we should give it another… nah.”

    • Oh, I wish there was good food at Cafe Cozzolino. How do they stay in business? Do they own the building they’re in? Do they have a sweetheart 20 year lease? There is almost no one in there ever. I’ve only once seen more than 8 people dining there, and that seemed like some family reunion.

      I think the popularity of the new Cancilla’s proves that businesses can be successful at that corner.

      Cafe Cozzolino needs a restart. New menu. New decor. It would be huge.

  4. I saw this store in an old episode ‘the streets of san Francisco’. They got a call for something on Folsom st., but they didn’t interview anyone out of the store!

  5. Don’t forget the whisky/whiskey selection that beats BevMo in many ways. Not to mention her willingness to stock virtually anything you ask for if you’re a local.

  6. Cancilla’s is by far the best corner store that Bernal has seen in over 20 years. Gina Chu has done a fabulous job. Every time I need something quick, she has it…like organic basil, or good olive oil, or fresh crunchy bread. Thank you Cancilla’s.

  7. I think this store is a fantastic part of the neighborhood. Great selection and reasonable prices given the size of the place. The very friendly service is a great plus.

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  9. Wow,
    Someone forwarded a link to this site and it was nice to read all the great comments. I showed them to Gina and she had the biggest smile. She has been fairly sick lately and we’ve confined her to the house until she is better. She had been working 7 days a week over 15 hours a day since she made the deal to acquire the store. Her brother also hurt his back lifting too much so we hired a few extra people to help out. It slowed our expansion a little but rest assured we have a long way to go before we are happy with the store.

    Filling the store is almost complete, it was so empty before. We were able to focus on cleaning the store and making it more electrically efficient early on as we added more products. This year the store will expand internally and externally. We hope to add a parklet outside for more produce and a place to sit and eat ice cream. We want to add more efficient coolers inside and have more fresh baked goods. We’d also like to increase the number of meat options we currently have. There will be a new higher end liquor section once the carpenters finish the design. We added another 150 wines last month and hope to find another 250 wine labels before April. We are primarily looking for small winemakers that have new labels of their own after years of working at top wineries. It is fun to help people that are starting new businesses that have studied for years at big companies and now are on their own, the passion is inspiring and their wines are getting noticed.

    We hope you continue to give us feedback on what you want us to carry. It is your corner store and we can only compete with the big box stores by your continued generosity and guidance on what to stock.

    Many people have asked if we will keep the Cancillas name on the store. The plans that Gina has to open more markets in the future means that a new name for all the stores has been chosen. Ever since her husband died she has had the goal of owning organic markets in SF. She is on a mission to bring healthy food to Mom’s and kids in the neighborhood of Bernal Heights and new neighborhoods that want healthy alternatives.

    So thank you again from Joeseph and myself, its good to see a big smile on Gina’s face again.

    Cancillasmarket at gmail. com

  10. Two pieces of good news for Gina and the store. The reason she has been sick is being disclosed to friends and family. Most reading this are our neighbors and we love your families. Gina has continued to bring in organic products for the Mom’s and small children because she loves them so much. Probably even more than some because she has never been able to have children, until now. She is expecting a baby girl in August. We wanted to wait until all the tests were done. Everything looks good so far.

    On the subject of naming new babies… The store’s new name will be Harvest Hills. We moved up the hill this year. The sight of the colorful sunrises over the hill and our attention to the wine harvests going on around the world inspired the name. If you have great baby names, drop by the store and tell Gina. She’s feeling much better now in her second trimester.

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