Restaurant Grows with Mission Bay Neighborhood

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Photo of Emin Tekin.
Emin Tekin. Photo: Vivien Want

Located at 1500 Owens Street, Oda originally opened in 2014 as a coffeeshop catering to the University of California, San Francisco crowd. Today, it’s a full-service restaurant with ample indoor and outdoor dining serving a growing neighborhood. 

Emin Tekin took over the establishment in 2018, seeking to build a community-driven, family friendly establishment. Having trained in Turkey as a cook, he arrived in the United States in 2000. Along with his brother, Bawer, he previously owned and operated the now-defunct Hayes Valley establishments Terra Brazilis and Hayes & Kebab. 

Tekin acquired Oda following a chance encounter he had with the previous owner, Valon Grajqevci, three years ago. He was helping Bawer — who owns nearby SF Kebab — with a catering job at the Orthopaedic Institute of Mission Bay, where Oda is housed. While delivering food he ran into Grajqevci, who said “I wish you were taking over this place and could continue our catering business.” At the time Grajqevci owned multiple enterprises and wanted to spend more time with his family. 

Given its location, Oda’s morning crowd tends to consist of patients on their way to surgery. They stop by for an Illy coffee, or one of Oda’s fresh pastries, baked on site daily. Spanakopita and pogaca, a Turkish pastry filled with feta cheese and parsley, are offered. From 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tekin generally serves busy administrators on 30-minute lunch breaks. In the afternoon until late-evening neighbors come in to dine and relax.

“Oda has four different personalities,” said Tekin. “In the morning, we give our customers the care they need, just as they’d receive in health care. Our lunch crowd has limited time, so we move as fast as we can to serve them. The afternoon is more about socializing, and people talking about their day.” 

From 3 to 5 p.m. daily, happy hour cocktails and wines are available for $9, craft beers, $6. On Friday nights, a DJ spins salsa and cumbia music from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. for what Tekin calls “a mature crowd of European-style party people.” 

“In this industry, serving up comfort is the most important thing,” said Tekin. 

That means accommodating guests’ requests for custom-made or off-menu items, whether due to dietary restrictions or preference.  

Oda’s breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings include pizzas, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pastas and other small plates. 

“Everything is homemade; nothing is frozen or from cans,” said Tekin. He changes his menu based on customer demand and seasonal ingredients. 

Thanks to Tekin’s tenure helming restaurants in Hayes Valley, Oda draws loyal customers from the San Francisco Symphony, Ballet, and Opera. Former SF Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas picks up his hummus there regularly. 

“MTT will tell you ‘Emin makes the best hummus in San Francisco!’” Tekin said.

When Tekin took over Oda it had a full bar, but the license was on hold. The restaurant now offers seven craft beers, brewed onsite. Tekin’s personal favorite is the Mango IPA; customers tend to prefer Elise’s Favorite Blonde, named after a regular customer. 

Tekin often offers his space for fundraising events without charge, donating a day’s profits to the cause after covering expenses.

Recently, Oda extended its hours to include weekends, serving daily specials as well as brunch favorites on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.