What’s New In Town This August in Marin and Beyond: New French Spirits, a Japanese Market and More

Alamere Spirits

A French-inspired distillery in Novato is just one of the new businesses emerging from our Covid-19 year. Discover Alamere Spirits’ provenance, along with other new spots, including a Japanese market in San Rafael and the first food shop to arrive in the Presidio.

Eat & Drink

Alamere Spirits

Alamere Spirits

Business owners and long-time Mill Valley residents Susannah and Olivier Souvestre, with partner Bruno Denis, have been involved in many North Bay French restaurants, including Le Garage and Fast Food Français in Sausalito and now-closed L’appart in San Anselmo. The Souvestres sought a location to open their latest venture and chose Novato for its business-friendly vibe and room to grow. Olivier grew up helping his grandfather distill apple brandy at his farm in France and has had a passion for spirits and distilling ever since. When the pair sought a different challenge, spirits made sense. Alamere Spirits, says Susannah, is named after the beautiful tidefall in Marin County and happens to be an old French spelling for “to the sea.” Made in a traditional alembic style in a still imported from Bordeaux, France, the production is small craft (artisanal, as it were) and churns out French-wheat vodka, London dry gin and gin made with makrut lime and lemongrass. At the recent 2021 SF World Spirits Competition, Alamere won gold medals for the vodka and London dry gin. Currently only available from the website with free shipping to California addresses, local distribution is expected soon.



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Petaluma’s Peruvian wunderkind, Kevin Dagnino, opened an outpost in his hometown of Novato in the landmark space that once housed Hilltop 1892. A tight opening menu of regional classics includes lomo saltado and the country’s famous ceviches (try the a la Huancaina with the catch of the day) that will expand with the rollout of lunch service. Huge glass-paned doors in the front room slide open to reveal the view, and a beer garden out back is planned for later this summer.  850 Lamont Ave, Novato; 415.944.2066

Stellina Pronto


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Chef Christian Caiazzo of now-closed Osteria Stellina brings the same organic, local, family-friendly sensibility to his new spot in downtown Petaluma. A full coffee bar and slate of Italian pastries are available now, with plans to expand to pizza, piadine and salads in the coming months. 23 Kentucky St, Petaluma, 707.789.9556

Menya Shono


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After five years of serving up the slurpable farm-to-bowl noodle creations at San Francisco’s Menya Shono, Tokyo-based global ramen superstar Tomoharu Shono opened his third U.S. location in downtown San Rafael this spring. Chili-cumin chicken karaage, soup-less ramen (mazesoba) and ginjo shoyu ramen are among the bespoke creations. Unique to the Marin location is a ramen burger with noodles and chicken katsu. 908 4th St, San Rafael, 415.295.7112

The Exchange at Presidio Social Club Exchange

The Exchange Store

San Francisco’s Presidio welcomed its first food shop in June. Situated at the front of the long-running restaurant, it showcases goods from Northern California, including gifts, flowers, pantry furnishings, barrel-aged cocktails and wines. A new menu of grab-n-go picnic-ready eats and drinks includes an artisanal cheese box or a charcuterie box with accoutrements. Preorder sandwiches and seasonal salads like roasted beets with burrata or a French dip. 563 Ruger St, San Francisco, 415.885.1888


Perfect Provenance

Perfect Provenance

Belvedere’s Lisa Lori opened her second luxury lifestyle shop in downtown Tiburon at the height of our pandemic summer. In May, Lori opened her third store, this time in downtown Napa, fulfilling a life-long dream to have a store in the Napa Valley. Look for globally sourced fine fragrances, men’s and women’s fashion, gifts, art and home decor with a modern edge.  1300 1st St, suite 352, Napa, 707.699.2932

Kuma Market

Freshly made sushi and bento boxes from Shiro Kuma are just part of the appeal of this Japanese market in downtown San Rafael, which quietly opened in May. Of course there are snacks from Hi Chew and Hello Kitty alongside drinks and culinary staples like tonkatsu sauce, seaweed and Calpico soda, as well as household items from Daiso. 1417 4th St, San Rafael, 415.295.7397

Alix and Co

Known for master jeweler Janet Alix’s custom designs as much as for their so-called Sputnik bangles and immaculate repair work, the long-running shop in downtown Mill Valley moved around the corner in early May. 18 East Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, 415.380.0880

Personal Care

Michele Holmes Studio

Michele Holmes Studio
Michele Holmes Studio

Known for their customized eyebrow services, as well as lash lifts, haircuts and color, a beauty and personal care shop expanded into a much bigger space just across the Corte Madera Town Square. That includes space for a retail store, which owner Michele Holmes affectionately named “The Studio Bazaar,” that carries bath and beauty products, wellness goodies and accessories. 25 1st Street Corte Madera, 415.735.6920


Gravity Vault Marin

Gravity Vault

The San Rafael Sports Center near McInnis Park Golf Course boasts 40-foot-high ceilings — perfect for a climbing gym, which Marin has not had in over 10 years. Mill Valley residents, businessmen and avid climbers Scott Sklar and Brian Platter built out the 19,000-square-foot climbing space with top rope, lead climbing and bouldering opportunities for all levels. They also offer yoga, cardio, weight training and more. 440 Smith Ranch Rd, San Rafael, 415.472.9344

More from Marin:

Christina MuellerChristina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her children’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.