My first trip to Butter Love Bakeshop won’t be my last. A friendly, homey, no-frills bakery, a sign greets all customers immediately and declares: “you’re welcome.”
The owner, Esa Yonn-Brown, emphasized pies are the specialty here. The buttery pie crust is her mother’s recipe, and she takes pride in the selection of both sweet fruit pies and savory pies as well. The bakeshop also has a large array of other baked goods on offer such as cookies, cakes, scones, and doughnuts.
Esa is a San Francisco native and has a lifelong love for cooking and baking. She started working in restaurants in the city as a teenager, then graduated from City College, and after culinary school and various restaurant jobs, she started baking pies for friends while she took a break from baking professionally. From her youth, baking has taken precedence over cooking; a seeming shortage of San Francisco spots to find excellent pie inspired her to open her bakery.
After years baking “underground” and then at different pop-ups, she and her husband opened Butter Love Bakeshop in 2016. She emphasizes creating a welcoming and inclusive space for her customers. She knows a lot of her customers’ names and is happy to bring a sense of community to the Outer Richmond neighborhood.
Esa enjoys the group of regulars that have helped her gain a foothold in the neighborhood. She says the bakery was accepted quickly by neighbors, and is content with the bakeshop’s current following. There seem to be no plans to expand to other parts of the city. As a native of San Francisco, she appreciates that the Outer Richmond has a specific family neighborhood feeling. However, she remains worried about gentrification and affordability in San Francisco, and its impact on the heart and soul of the city, as well as restaurants in the area.
The “You’re Welcome” sign hung prominently exemplifies the bakery’s overall philosophy. Esa hopes she can play a small part in preserving a communal safe space for all types of quirky, eccentric, and unconventional people in a rapidly changing city.
While San Francisco remains her home, she has friends who have been forced to leave the city due to the cost of living; this has deepened her commitment to making a space where customers feel welcome and connected. She and her husband are raising children as they run the business, so this makes creating a family, neighborhood bakery all the more meaningful. Acceptance and diversity are essential as Esa comes from a very large and diverse family, and feels that food can bring all types of different people together. Food is very much about preserving a “legacy of love”; her family has a lot of romantic and emotional bonds made through food.
The food I had was just awesome, period. I was treated to exquisite doughnut holes, and pear almond “cuppies,” which are miniature pies with fruit fillings. The pie crust is buttery, as advertised, and the pear almond filling was delectable.
I also had a mango muffin, which I’ve never seen before. Lover of all things mango, I hopped at the chance, but to be honest, it’s hard to pick among the large selection of sweet and savory pastries. I finished my pastries with soothing chai, which definitely hit the spot. I took a hearty brown butter snickerdoodle to go, which was a cut above your typical snickerdoodle, and I’m no snickerdoodle amateur.
I’ll be recommending Butter Love Bakeshop to family, friends, loved ones, and my fellow San Franciscans. It’s San Francisco at its best.
3717 Balboa St, San Francisco, CA 94121