Noe Valley Voice March 2013

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Noe Valley Voice feature profiling new stores and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a 24th Street pub specializing in craft beer, and a children’s art and activity center on Church Street.


Gisele Clark wants kids to know they can paint like Jackson Pollock at Spark Creativity, her art studio on Church Street.     Photo by Pamela Gerard

Spark Creativity
1513 Church Street at 27th Street


At Spark Creativity, being messy is okay. In fact, it’s encouraged. Owner Gisele Clark opened the children’s art studio in January in a space once occupied by Loft 1513. Now instead of women’s fashion, kids’ paintings hang on the walls.

“I prefer messy,” Clark says as she sits at one of the miniature, kid-sized chairs placed around long, low tables covered in paper, glitter, and paint streaks. “Just be sure to wear old clothes and shoes. All the paint is washable, but your best tutu is probably not a good idea.”

Projects include clay, mosaics, collages, and painting. Clark is mom to two young children, and she’s also a veteran teacher, having spent 10 years in the field, including two at Adda Clevenger, a K-8 grade school on Fair Oaks Street.

“I’d rather not show kids a model of what we’ll be working on beforehand,” she says. “I give them the materials and explain the project, and we might talk about an artist we’re studying, the seasons, or textures.” Clark cites Jackson Pollock, whose splatter paintings appeal to kids, as an example. “Kids love the freedom to swirl paint or string-painting or watching the patterns a marble rolled inside a box with a dab of paint makes.”

There’s a small room in the bright, cheerful studio, which Clark plans to convert to a splatter-painting room.

Classes are for the 2- to 6-year-old set and last for 11/2 hours. If children are potty-trained, parents and caregivers can do drop-off.

Hanging out is also fine. “I leave it up to the parents and children to work it out,” Clark says.

Classes for younger children, ages 2 to 4, are scheduled in the mornings, and for older children, ages 4 to 6, in the afternoons. Parents can sign up for 10-week sessions attending twice a week for $450 or once a week for $225. Drop-ins ($25) are fine as long as there is space—there’s a maximum of 10 children per class.

Additionally, the space is available for birthday parties. A two-hour party for 10 includes art materials, setup, and cleanup. The host is responsible for refreshments, serving materials, and decorations. Clark will work with parents to tailor a theme for the birthday child.

Parties are $225, and there are no age restrictions. “Parents have asked if they can have an adult party with alcohol,” Clark says, smiling. “Why not?” Call to make a reservation.

Spark Creativity is open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Check the website for the schedule.


Caskhouse co-owner John Dampeer complements his handpicked menu of beer and wine with sandwiches, pretzels, and house-made chips.    Photo by Sally Smith

3853 24th Street at Vicksburg


In the space occupied by Joe’s Caf… for many years, Caskhouse has made itself a part of the Noe Valley landscape. Bar, gastropub, or tavern—whatever folks want to call it—the newest addition to 24th Street since January offers a rotating selection of beers and wines, as well as a small menu of “bites” and snacks.

“I know it’s a clich…, but I’m living my dream,” says John Dampeer, who co-owns the business with Adnan Daken. Dampeer was in sales when he met Daken at the latter’s Laurel Heights wine bar, Internos. “Since I graduated from college, having a place that focuses on beer, wine, food, and entertaining has been something I’ve wanted to do.”

Caskhouse has about six beers on tap and most are small-production craft beers. They highlight local Northern California breweries, and switch one or two taps about every two weeks. “Customers will see some repeats, like the Kent Lake Kolsch from Fairfax and the Sculpin IPA from San Diego,” Dampeer says, pointing to the taps. Draft beer is $6.

Those who prefer bottled beer can order from a menu of three or four 22-ounce offerings for $11. These might include the California Common steam beer from Novato’s Lucky Hand Brewing, Evil Twin Red Ale from Pittsburg, or Puddle Jumper Pale Ale from Santa Rosa.

There’s also a small selection of six to eight white, red, and sparkling wines, which run $10 to $12 per glass. “These are more global, but still small producers.” Wine drinkers can try a Neblina from Italy and a Tempranillo from Spain. “We don’t want to overwhelm people with a beer bible,” Dampeer says. “For one thing, we don’t have the storage for that much inventory, but mainly we want to introduce customers to some things they might not have heard of before.”

The food menu is growing and evolving. Dampeer and Daken make their own fig jam, which they’ve paired with saut…ed rabe, roasted peppers, goat cheese, and ciabatta. A “fan favorite” on the menu is the braised beef short rib slider with horseradish sour cream on a brioche bun. Everything on the sandwich menu is $8, and you get two sliders on a plate with house pickles and a side of Caskhouse chips. For $2 more, you can sample the “Dog,” made with 4505 Meats pork, cheddar, and saut…ed Napa cabbage. A warm farro salad with beets, caulifower, and feta cheese is $4, as are the bar’s soft pretzels with beer cheese sauce.

The new owners kept the dark slate floor tiles of Joe’s and installed a black walnut bar where the kitchen was. Metal ceiling lamps with an industrial feel hang over it, and there are bar-stool-high tables throughout the space.

Since food is served, children do join their parents for a late lunch or early dinner. “Everybody in the neighborhood has given us a great reception,” Dampeer says.

Caskhouse is open Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.