Healthy Spirits began making its mark on San Francisco when it opened its doors in the Castro District in 1998. The young owner and former stock broker, Rami Barqawi, wanted to service the community he fell in love with and had an eye for quality food and drink. He also believed strongly in outstanding customer service, putting the business on a path to affectionately become known as the “corner store with personality”. Wanting to get his family involved Rami brought his wife on to help run the day to day operations of the business and even included his parents who were particularly skilled at making Middle Eastern fare. “Rami’s Mommy’s” fresh home made hummus was an instant hit attracting die hard fans from all over San Francisco, and was even featured on restaurant menus and in local grocery stores.
As the business continued to grow, an emphasis was put on increasing and improving the already stellar beer and whiskey selection. An accomplished writer, beer buyer and Cicerone was brought on to manage the beer. He teamed with the store’s resident wine and spirit expert, fromager, and whiskey blogger. With the dream team in place they went about building the best selection of beer and whiskey they could find combined with a knowledgeable staff and friendly service.
One of the first big steps was the creation of educational beer and whiskey clubs, which helped showcase unusual and exceptional products while including detailed information and interviews with brewers and distillers. This allowed customers a direct link to their favorite spirit producers while providing Healthy Spirits with strong relationships and buying power, a major factor in attaining the rarer releases the shop had become known for. What followed was the launching of a barrel program, which allowed Healthy Spirits to hand select exclusive barrels of whiskey, better controlling the quality of what goes on the shelves. This was a major step in our history as it created a symbiotic relationship between our beer and whiskey selections. Empty bourbon barrels that once contained our private whiskies were given to local brewers to create exclusive bourbon barrel aged beers, and voila the connection between our favorite spirits was born.
In 2012 Healthy Spirits began construction of its second store in the Inner Richmond, an area we felt needed more beer and whiskey options. We were given freedom to remake the store as we saw fit. What ensued was a beautiful testament to beer and whiskey inspired architecture, which included: mahogany oak shelving floor to ceiling, library ladders, fridges galore, a signature burgundy awning and a beautiful bourbon barrel mounted at the entrance for all to see. The grand opening of Healthy Spirits Clement took place in early 2013, and was an over night success. The business model we had spent 15 years developing transported perfectly to a neighborhood in need of more craft driven selections.
Whatever the future holds, Healthy Spirits has positioned itself to be a leader in all things beer and whiskey, and more recently agave spirits. Heck we even make our own line of beer and whiskey flavored ice cream. Thanks largely to your continued support and patronage, Healthy Spirits will always seek out the best beer, whiskey, and wine & spirits we can find, while also emphasizing having the most knowledgeable and helpful staff possible. And who knows, more locations may soon be on the way.