The food, wine and beverage spot offers a wide selection of wines and bites and strives to be a hub of food and culture for the neighborhood.
Although the Check-In Wine Lounge on Ocean Avenue in the Mission Terrace neighborhood opened in September, it’s already become a hang out for nearby residents.
“Our friends and neighbors have been incredibly responsive,” co-owner Rich Lugo Zavala said. “People come together weekly to meet here and literally check in.”
Lugo Zavala and business partner Geoffrey Stott wanted to create a space where customers could browse, be curious, ask questions and appreciate the world of wine. Most of all, they wanted their business to be an antidote to the pandemic blues.
“The Check-In is much more than wine — it is about connecting [and] bringing people together,” Lugo Zavala said. “It’s a place for celebration of the Bay Area’s contribution to wine and world culture.”
As businesses are resuming a regular routine, it’s easy to dismiss the social and economic situation back in 2020.
“During the initial onset of COVID-19 many of us found ourselves alone and cut-off from others. And, in many cases, cut off from even those we loved,” Lugo Zavala said. “Fears about getting out or even getting into a cab, Uber or public transportation further isolated us.”
From that type of experience he and Stott saw a moment to make a change.
“We both share a passion for hosting and entertaining friends and family and we both have done that for many years,” Lugo Zavala said. “The pandemic made it more clear to us that it is important to have places near us in our community that serve those in our neighborhood.”
Neighbors regularly file in at opening for the happy hour.
“We are social beings,” Lugo Zavala said. “Food, wine and beverages along with entertainment tends to help us connect.”
Lugo Zavala came to San Francisco from Venezuela and Stott from Australia in the mid 2000s. Both became United States citizens.
Lugo Zavala, a licensed Marital and Family Therapist, has worked in the private sector and with non-profit agencies in the Bay Area for over 20 years. Stott, who works in film production, also has years of experience working with wine.
Even with the combined efforts at previous business ventures they teamed up for, back in 2015, the training and certification programs offered at City College of San Francisco helped Stott and Lugo Zavala immensely.
“CCSF has provided us with the support, tools and practical hand-ons approach to take on the challenges of ownership of the Check In Wine Lounge,” Lugo Zavala said. “We moved quickly from the idea phase of it being a proposed project for class into a live, up and running entrepreneurship.”
Lugo Zavala took business classes in City College of San Francisco’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation that he credits with helping the wine bar succeed. The Check-In will be paying back that debt by hosting a mixer for the center on Friday called “After 5.”
Lugo Zavala and Stott work with distributors who are committed to bringing the best of their wine selections from the Bay Area as well as a few other select international wines.
“In the future we would like to turn part of the back area into a local art gallery and special events venue,” Lugo Zavala said. “We are aiming to provide more of a hub of culture and entertainment along with food and wine. We would like to be able to accommodate entertainers, musicians and local artists.”
Stott and Zavala hope to partner with other local businesses to make their block of Ocean Avenue a vibrant area, providing services and goods and attracting visitors.
The Check-In Wine Lounge
Address: 201 Ocean Ave.
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 5 to 11 p.m.
Happy Hour: 5 to 7 p.m.
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