Samovar pivots to Joyride Pizza

It's Tuesday, August 17.

Hey there, San Francisco. 

In college, I was really into tea. And since Samovar was the coolest tea shop around, I was thrilled when I got a job at their downtown, Yerba Buena location. I made tea in the back kitchen and burned myself regularly with hot water. 

It was a tough job, trying to keep steep times straight for multiple orders at a time. But I loved it. And I loved what Samovar brought to the city—good tea and an even better place for people to hang out. 

So, it was bittersweet to hear the news on Monday that Samovar’s brick-and-mortar locations will be no more, replaced instead by Joyride Pizza, a new Detroit-style pizza concept. 

Jesse Jacobs (the owner of Samovar and now, Joyride) told me on Tuesday that it was “definitely, emotionally tough” to make the pivot, but ultimately, it was the right move. Central to his decision was the pandemic, which Jacobs said brought fear and anxiety into so many people’s lives. He wanted to offer something at his San Francisco stores that “awakens sensations of positivity and joy,” like what pizza tends to do. 

“It’ll make old ladies and little kids happy, just as well as people on a first date,” he said. 

The tea guru turned square-slice seller hopes to differentiate on quality and locally sourced ingredients. His two-day fermented focaccia dough is made from Central Milling flour. His pepperoni comes from Zoe’s Meats in Petaluma. And his mushrooms are from Mycopia in Sebastopol. 

“People think of pizza as junk food, but this is something markedly different,” Jacobs said. A couple of house favorites so far include the “Eat Your Veggies” veggie pizza and “Pestoriffic,” a pesto pizza topped with smoked chicken, applewood bacon, and a homemade ranch dressing. 

Joyride will start with two stores. The Yerba Buena location will serve as a full-scale restaurant with a menu that includes its square pizza, as well as fresh pasta, salads (Jacobs told me he’d put his Ceasar up against any in the city), and cocktails. And the Valencia Street location, which used to be Samovar’s “tea to-go” shop and fill the sidewalk with fresh chai aromas, will now be a slice house. 

“At the end of the day, it’s still about connecting with customers,” Jacobs said. “And doing something physical in an amazing city like San Francisco.” 

To give Joyride a try, for the next week or so, Jacobs graciously offered to give SF Minute readers 25% off online orders when you use the promo code: “joy25a.” And, if you’re still craving Samovar’s chai or any of its other teas, they’re available to order online at

And with that...onto some more news… 

Mission Local’s Eleni Balakrishnan had a good recap of the discussion last night between District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Police Chief Bill Scott. “Both speakers,” Balakrishnan writes, “emphasized that the perception of worse-than-ever crime rates in the city does not always align with reality.” Still, as Boudin said about certain high-profile cases, “We all lie awake at night wondering what we could have done differently.” 

You can watch a recording of the event here

It was a busy day for the two. As the Examiner’s Michael Barba reported, on Monday, Boudin and Scott also extended an agreement that the District Attorney’s office will take the lead role in investigating police shootings and other serious incidents, rather than the police themselves. The extension builds on a 2019 agreement and is set to last for another two years. 

Quick bits: 

  • 🌉 How should Bay Area cities protect themselves against a rising sea level? San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said recently that perhaps we should look closer at an option to dam the Golden Gate. (Chronicle

  • 💵 Z&Y has agreed to pay $1.6 million to 22 workers who alleged the popular Chinatown restaurant withheld tips and failed to pay them minimum wage, overtime, and sick leave. In the settlement, Z&Y claimed no wrongdoing. (Chronicle

  • 💞 After a year off in 2020, the Three-Legged Dog picnic returned to Duboce Park on Sunday. (SFist

And finally…

San Francisco native Jeannie Psomas started selling plants on Instagram during the pandemic under the name, The Plant Lady SF. And as she recently told The Ingleside Light, “It was so successful and super fun. And I just thought, ‘You know what, what if we did this all the time?’” 

Soon, that will happen. On September 3rd, The Plant Lady SF will open up as Ingleside’s latest brick-and-mortar storefront in a 120-square foot, former Bank of America ATM lobby!

That’s all for today! And before we go, a quick shout out to Josh B., Kanishka K., and Anne I. who, as of yesterday, have read 100 editions of The SF Minute! Thank you guys for being loyal readers and motivating me to keep this newsletter going! I really, really appreciate it!

Have a great night and see you back here tomorrow! - Nick B.

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