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    Image: Mariko Reed

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San Francisco gets a taste of Nepal

Nav Pal
14 Oct 2019

David Baker Architects contributed pro bono services to immigrant entrepreneur Binita Pradhan, owner and chef of Bini’s Kitchen.

Bini’s Kitchen is the first brick-and-mortar outpost for immigrant entrepreneur Binita Pradhan. The owner and chef of Bini’s Kitchen, Bini is a native of Kathmandu and proud to run the only Nepalese catering company in San Francisco, bringing Nepalese soul food from the foothills of the Himalayas to the Bay Area.

Her business launched in the shared incubator kitchen at La Cocina, a non-profit organization that empowers entrepreneurs, particularly immigrants and women of color, to break into the food and restaurant industry. Entrepreneurs at La Cocina receive subsidized commercial kitchen space, technical and legal support, and access to opportunities to grow their businesses. Inspired by Bini’s warmth and generosity, moving story, and culinary skills, the design and construction team committed to bringing her new space to life with pro bono and reduced-fee services. David Baker Architects contributed pro bono services as part of their participation in Public Architecture’s 1+ Program.

The new 1,570-square-foot space represents a major upgrade for Bini’s business, which had been based out of La Cocina’s kitchen and a tiny downtown kiosk. Bini’s Kitchen is a happy, bright permanent space with increased capacity in a high-visibility location. The restaurant features an open kitchen, counter service, seating, high ceilings, custom display cases, and a standing bar looking out toward the SOMA neighborhood. Tile colors inspired by Himalayan spices and a custom carved walnut service counter reference Nepalese culture and crafts. Work tables facing the tall windows allow passersby to observe the delicate folding of the momos—Bini’s specialty dumplings.

Design moments express Bini’s history and personality throughout the space. Local artist Radici Studios created an “ancestry mural,” learning about Bini’s life and path to create a personalized mural that highlights scenes and symbols central to her powerful story. This mural frames a window at Bini’s desk in the kitchen, where her friendly face greets patrons, employees, deliveries, and other visitors. Several panels of the mural are visible from the street, bringing art to the sidewalk, enticing customers, and celebrating Bini’s values of social connectedness that are central to her business.

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