Epicurean Trader Opening This Morning on Cortland



This morning, The Epicurean Trader will open for business at 401 Cortland, on the corner of Bennington, for the very first time. Grand Opening! Woo hoo!

That said, when your Bernalwood editor first heard that the business would be called The Epicurean Trader, I was gravely concerned. Sure, the fetishism of San Francisco food aficionados can be a bit obnoxious at times. But a business dedicated entirely to the buying and selling of epicureans? As if they were human chattel? Well, let’s just say that seemed a bit extreme.

Fortunately, co-proprietor Holly McDell helped clear things up. Rest assured, she says, the Epicurean Trader will not engage in the buying and selling of epicureans. Instead, it will facilitate the the buying and selling of artisanal food products to epicureans. Whew! Bernalwood is very relieved.

Here’s what else Neighbor Holly has to say about The Epicurean Trader:

My husband Mat and I moved to Bernal (on Putnam) a few years ago, after having our first child. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the sense of community.

The store is called The Epicurean Trader. Inside the store you’ll find hand-selected small batch artisan products from across America, chosen for their incredible flavors and fusions, natural ingredients, and beautiful packaging.

As you are probably aware, there are many amazing products out there that struggle to get into large wholesale accounts for a number of reasons (reliance on distributors, lack of capital or brand awareness etc). Our goal is to be a brand ambassador for these smaller brands, sharing their unique stories, and bringing many of them to San Francisco for the first time.


We aim to provide a space for Bernal residents to discover and taste the best artisanal foods from across the country. In addition, we will have a curated selection of wines, craft beers, and small batch distilled spirits. On the wine side we are working with Bernal local Jason Moore of Alluvial Wines, as well as Alex Finberg (former sommelier of Farina, and trusted consultant for some of San Francisco’s top restaurants and markets). They have kindly shared their experience and palates to develop a wine program specifically for the Bernal demographic. We aim to have a selection of amazing wines at every price point, to enjoy both mid week, as well as on special occasions.

By working directly with brands and avoiding distributors wherever possible, we aim to offer these products at affordable prices. We see our product selection as being complementary that of The Good Life and Avedano’s.

We’re also going to have in-store tastings where the artisans and wine makers etc can come and share their stories.

Neighbor Holly says The Epicurean Trader will be open at 11 am today. We say: Welcome!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of The Epicurean Trader

30 thoughts on “Epicurean Trader Opening This Morning on Cortland

  1. That would be Epicurean (with a second “e”). Just for the record–or for looking them up online.
    Can’t wait to see what they’ve got.

    Your neighborhood spelling marm

  2. Welcome Holly & Mat! Just got to stop in – what a beautiful store – great use of the space and the selection is really quite nice (lots of things, esp chocolates I’ve never seen in SF before); So nice to see another store owned by fellow Bernal denizens.

    So, let’s see – Avadano’s, 331 Marketplace, Moki’s/BernalStar/RedHill/VinnoRosso/etc, Good Life and now Epicurean Trader – why would I ever need to leave Bernal?

  3. Back in 1955,I said all Cortland needed was a shoe store,cause we had SOO much. A great variety store,hardware store,butcher shop who delivered meat. My son aged 3 in those days liked the barber shop,& especially the butcher who always sliced a slice of bologna for him. We had a theater,grocery shops that also delivered groceries. We also had a coffee shop& several beauty shops. Across from St.Kevins we bought fresh crabs,alive or cooked. During vacation My daughter would sign up at the playground for day trips. Really miss those days, but AH PROGRESS !!!!

    • Yes. And there you have the nature of cities. Growth, Booms, declines, busts and rebirths. The faces change, populations shift but the cycle remains the same.

      For those of us who love cities, the flux and dynamism can be exhilarating, it can be scary, but it’s the constant change that make cities wonderful. Stick round any city long enough and you will get to see the whole cycle. Now it’s Bernal’s turn back on the upswing…

    • How funny…I was thinking the same thing. So long as the business can stay in business, it’s all good. But I too am seeing parallels with Noe Valley. Shops with things you want, but don’t necessarily need. 😉

      • I think about that “need” angle a lot. What kind of stuff do people need that they might get on Cortland? (Bearing in mind that structural changes in various industries make some of these things more challenging in 2015. For example, a pharmacy on Cortland would be great, but hard to envision in the Age of Walgreens.)

    • What sweet memories to hear about! As an (almost) 3 year veteran of Bernal, I often feel like if Cortland had a pharmacy, a bookstore and a movie theater, I would just never need to leave! All my needs would be met. I bet you’ve seen all of those things since 1955. 🙂

  4. I went in tonight. Great booze selection, owners are cool and super helpful. I think it’s a great place to pick up a hostess gift. Nice alternative to the other shops. Some things are pricey but I was very surprised at how much I liked it and that’s awesome.

  5. Fantastic! I’ll be in to check it out this weekend. Congrats on the opening.

  6. My standards on foodie stores are not merely tough but outright cruel. I would consider even venerable Bi-rite to be both “long in the tooth” and “decidedly a mixed bag.”

    But ET scores very well with me in that they have a simply lovely fresh new store with plenty of air and light and everything is very tasteful. Of the categories they carry I’d estimate they have about 70% of Bi-rites inventory (along with several things Bi-rite doesn’t carry, though none particularly leap out). Where they overlap with Whole Foods, Bi-rite has about a 10% additional markup and ET something like 15-25% additional markup. But I don’t fault them for that as it’s a new store and really very well done, part of what you’re getting is the shopping experience, and I prefer Cortland to 18th by a good margin.

    The wine selection is surprisingly good and may sustain them. Vino Rosso has always had a weird selection of odd bits and bobs and primarily succeeds as a bar not off-sales. Though Harvest Hills has a shockingly good wine selection for what looks like a typical corner store, so ET aren’t the clear leader even in Bernal.

    My major complaint is they should have more. MORE! They have a lot of stuff but it’s all add-ons and Americans have been trained to be one-stoppers. I expected a full deli (something like AG Ferrari) but there isn’t really. Avedano’s found that sandwiches sustained them as most shoppers don’t know what to do with basics. Local Mission Market is limping dead partly because of politics and partly because they just didn’t have enough, or appear to have enough, to be reliable. With Avedano’s and Good Life in walking distance ET can make a go of things even without a comprehensive inventory but if they’re going to do that I’d suggest going even bigger and becoming a destination gourmet shop vending prize unobtainium.

    Of course that’s tough as they need to make enough of a go of things to risk even the inventory level they already have, which is substantial. I like this business and the couple running it quite a lot and they are very easy to root for. So I think they’ll make it and spruce up this joint a touch.

    For the critics, there’s always Andi’s. Enjoy.

    • +1. A pox on those people who complain about the expensive new stores and failed to support our local video store and bookstore!

  7. Went in this weekend. Really nice selection of unique items you won’t find elsewhere. I bought some things to take to a dinner party instead of the same ‘ole bottle of wine that no one will remember.
    The staff(owners?) were very friendly and helpful. They seemed to know a lot about the products they carry
    Great addition to the neighborhood and something people from surrounding neighborhoods might actually come to Cortland for.

  8. Pingback: Foodie-Hating Vandal Damages Epicurian Trader on Cortland | Bernalwood

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