Bun Mee is the second installment of the immensely popular Vietnamese sandwich shop from owner Denise Tran, whose original store opened on Fillmore Street in 2011, featuring authentic yet innovative bánh mì sandwiches.
Although her charming Fillmore Street location is comfortably nestled in the Victorian neighborhood of Pacific Heights, this new venue takes a different approach, with its design cues coming from the chaotic intensity of San Francisco’s Financial District. Conceptually, it recalls the long history of the Vietnamese street food scene, where bánh mì is often served curbside amid the hustle and bustle of the urban fabric, and melds that with a more modern and urban street vibe consistent with the vitality of this Market Street location.
Upon passing through the existing historic terracotta facade, patrons will immediately feel a sense of being located between two tall buildings, with a “wild posting” of Bun Mee graphics defining the queue and suggesting an alley passageway. Black cabling reminiscent of the overhead power lines seen throughout Vietnam swags across the width of the space about halfway up its high volume, implying a more human scale ceiling over the dining area. This cable web is then punctured by groupings of individual globe lights that recall the scale and intensity of Asian night markets.
Slicing diagonally through the space is an existing steel seismic brace, painted in Bun Mee’s signature vibrant red, which acts as a visual draw from the street and establishes a clear line between the dining area and the kitchen. This brace does double duty, supporting a series of wood retail display shelves on one side and a wood plank mechanical screen on the other. The wood provides much needed warmth to counterbalance the concrete floor, raw steel counters and corrugated metal accents.
Set among the flurry of street cars, buses, bicycles, and automobiles, Bun Mee Market Street creates a modern and inviting sandwich shop that embraces the urbanity of San Francisco’s major transit artery.