When we announced the Airbnb Local Lounge project, we promised to introduce travelers to unique, authentic San Francisco spots that are truly representative of their neighborhoods.
Today, we’d love for you to meet Jon Whitehead, owner of Radius in SoMa.
Radius has always held a special place in Airbnb’s collective heart. It’s directly opposite Airbnb’s (tiny) first office. Its appeal was immediate: with his background in graphic design and his commitment to quality, Jon had created a welcoming, inviting space that put the customer experience first.
Jon was kind enough to share his insights on the fast-changing SoMa neighborhood. Here are his stories.
Radius has an interesting philosophy: it sources all its ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of its location. Can you tell us more about the philosophy behind Radius?
We started Radius at the bottom of the recession in 2010. It was probably the only time that we could afford to start up a restaurant this size in San Francisco.
Though I’ve never been a die-hard locavore, I have always been wary of the industrial food complex. I believe in fresh ingredients and transparency in the food system.
But the main reason we decided to draw this land in the sand with Radius was to support our local community. We started Radius at the bottom of the recession in 2010, and so many small businesses were going under.
A restaurant is a gathering place for the community. We wanted to extend that sense of community beyond our neighborhood to include our local farms, artisans, and winemakers. In doing so, we’ve created fantastic relationships with those purveyors and wineries. We feel it makes every meal we serve that much more special.
SoMa is going through some interesting times. How has it changed during the time you’ve been here?
Our particular area of SoMa has become one of most exciting blocks in San Francisco.
We have some great bars, restaurants and clubs on the strip—and they’re all owner-operated. It’s an extremely diverse cross section of people but everyone is inviting and friendly.
Our building was vacant for a couple of years before we took it over and was a real eyesore on the corner. All of our neighbors were happy to see us take it over and have showed us lots of love since day one.
Since then, startups, art galleries and other restaurants have popped up all around us, but we still know most of the people that live and work in the area by first name.
What’s your favorite SoMa moment?
The World Series was a great example of how electric SoMa can be.
During one game at Bloodhound, I was surrounded by many of my fellow owners on the block from City Beer Store, Citizen’s Band & Deli Board. It was just a great sense of community. When the Giants won the World Series, I was watching the game after brunch service at the Hotel Utah with a bunch of my employees. Everyone starting spilling into the street in their orange and black.
We ended up buying a couple of bottles of cheap champagne and walked over to AT&T Park to pop them open at the feet of Willie Mays statue. We thought it was an original idea, but every five minutes for the next hour another group of people would show up and spray the crowd with more champagne.