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By Carina Woudenberg
Continuing the influx of new businesses into the Fillmore Jazz District, The Social Study is now serving beverages, snacks and a cool vibe in the stylish brick-lined space at 1795 Geary, just off Fillmore. Along with creatively concocted drinks and locally roasted coffee, owner Harmony Fraga says she hopes to add to the mix rotating art exhibitions, performances by local bands and caffeine-fueled community conversation.
“The lower Fillmore is going through a renaissance,” said Fraga. “We wanted to bridge the gap between upper and lower Fillmore — and create an awareness that lower Fillmore is really cool.”
Citing examples such as the new and wildly successful State Bird Provisions at 1529 Fillmore and the soon-to-arrive Hapa Ramen next door, Fraga says she sees an exciting sea change in the neighborhood. “Upper Fillmore has seen a lot of success,” she says. “Now it’s our turn.”
In preparation, the concrete floors and bare walls have been transformed into a stimulating yet cozy environment that features off-the-wall padded seating, free wi-fi and plenty of table space.
Naming the new spot was a construction project of its own. After considering what seemed like hundreds of possibilities, Fraga says she finally landed on The Social Study, a play on words that reflects her interest in people and her love of learning. Books in neat stacks are not just decoration. Mostly made up of Fraga’s thrift store finds and gifts from friends, bookworms can find such varied titles as The Martha Rules by Martha Stewart and textbooks such as Abnormal Behavior and Personality alongside self-help staples such as Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson.
Fraga knew she wanted to serve Four Barrel Coffee after savoring it regularly when she worked at Farmerbrown near Union Square. In its early stages, it was the owners of Farmerbrown who envisioned what became The Social Study. Fraga said they had to let the idea go because they were already too busy maintaining the restaurant. But she was committed to the idea, so she spent months with a silent partner refining the concept and identifying a space.
Along with coffee drinks and beer and wine, The Social Study — currently open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. — offers house-made pastries and “study snacks.” Fraga dubs these menu items, such as marinated olives and a hot potato medley, “rustic bites” to convey their simplicity and homemade appeal. She also serves a “SanFrangria” featuring a house red wine, which she hopes to change with the seasons.
A music lover, Fraga cherishes “Betty,” a vintage record player she picked up at a thrift store for $25. Betty spins vinyl of different genres throughout the day while “Sophia,” the coffee maker, churns out the hot beverages. “I name everything,” Fraga says.
Fridays are music night at The Social Study and while this currently consists of a disc jockey spinning vinyl, in the future Fraga says she’d like to get bands up and playing in the loft, and use a projector to show movies.
Fraga says the feedback she’s received on the new business has been positive. People are especially happy to have a hang-out spot that opens before 5 p.m. And she’s open to other suggestions. “That’s the most exciting part of the business,” she says, “the endless possibilities of what you can do here.”
Fraga’s assistant, Michael Lopez, also hints at upcoming surprises. “Fun and new things are going to happen that a lot of people won’t expect,” he says. “And they’ll be pleasantly surprised.”