Business Briefing: SF coworking space incubates lesbian restaurateurs

  • by Matthew S. Bajko, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday October 11, 2023
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Suki and Katya Skye, left, operate DACHA Cafe & Bar at coworking space Trellis, co-founded by Jason and Rebecca Pan. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Suki and Katya Skye, left, operate DACHA Cafe & Bar at coworking space Trellis, co-founded by Jason and Rebecca Pan. Photo: Rick Gerharter

In the coming weeks Suki and Katya Skye will open a restaurant near San Francisco's Polk Gulch neighborhood featuring fare from their Eastern European roots. The couple have teamed up with Russian-born and French-trained chef Katerina Pervushina, who will oversee the kitchen and has helped craft the menu.

The couple live in Tiburon and scrounged up funding from friends and family in order to sign the lease at 1085 Sutter Street at Larkin Street to open DACHA Kitchen & Bar located just off Polk Street. They are currently going through the city's inspection process and soon hope to announce an opening date.

The name refers to the country homes many Eastern European families own, explained Suki Skye, 44, who is of German ancestry as well as French, British, and Irish. Her wife, who emigrated from Russia in 2014, and Pervushina both have fond memories of spending time at their familial dachas, she told the Bay Area Reporter.

"It is a place to bring your family in the summer, a place of rest, and a place where you eat food from the garden. It felt like the right vibe of this place we are trying to create," said Suki Skye.

The couple have been together five years and married in May 2020 at San Francisco City Hall. Katya Skye, 41, in 2019 co-founded Manhattan Zodiac, a bar catering and consulting business that also offered mixology classes for aspiring bartenders. When COVID hit, she pivoted to offering classes online, which soon attracted the attention of large companies who booked her for their virtual parties and other events.

"December 2020 was nuts in our house," recalled Suki Skye, who lent a hand behind the scenes.

When in-person gatherings were safe to hold again, she would assist her wife onsite as a barback. Earlier this year, the couple were introduced to the team behind the coworking space Trellis, having been booked to work a fundraiser held at the business in San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood.

The owners of Trellis had wanted to find someone to take on the operations of their on-site cafe and bar, which had largely gone unused since they took over the space at 981 Mission Street near Sixth Street. It previously had been a coworking space called COVO.

They struck a deal with the Skyes, who opened the DACHA Cafe & Bar there on August 7.

"It is a gorgeous space," Suki Skye told the B.A.R. during an interview in late September while seated at the bar's counter.

The cafe is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. The bar operates similar hours though hosts a happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. on Fridays that is drawing in customers.

"We have done a lot of marketing to draw people from the neighborhood and invite them to come in. We redid our sign outside so people know we have coffee," said Suki Skye, referring to the sandwich board by Trellis' entrance that prominently features a cup of coffee paired with a croissant and invites passersby to "Come On In!"

As this is the first time the Skyes have operated a brick-and-mortar eatery, it has served as a bit of a test kitchen as they work to open their restaurant. They are adjusting their cafe menu based on customer feedback and employing a strategy aimed at making the service industry more rewarding for those working in it, especially women.

They have offered small shares in their business for others to invest in. Thus, the LLC they formed to open their DACHA locations is 96% women-owned and 82% queer-owned, said Suki Skye.

"One of the things that is really important to Katya and I is creating a better service industry for the service industry," she said, adding their goal is to help other women and people of color who have historically struggled to find financing to open their own restaurants. "Our future goal is to help others with grants or loans to open a business, which is so hard to do in this town."

Coming out of COVID

Joining Suki Skye to talk with the B.A.R. was Trellis co-owner Rebecca Pan, who lives in San Francisco's Corona Heights neighborhood with her husband, Jason, and their young son. They opened the co-working space in the spring of 2021 with two queer co-founders; Brandon King remains as Trellis' operations manager while Beau-Robert Metcalfe, who had been the company's strategy manager, has since departed.

"It's been great and hard," Rebecca Pan, 43, told the B.A.R. about operating a business amid the ongoing impacts of the COVID pandemic to San Francisco's downtown, which has an office vacancy rate around 30% and seen multiple retailers shutter their doors.

"It's been great in that we have been able to be this oasis of acceptance and inclusion and safety, and be able to connect with and support so many incredible entrepreneurs," she said. "It's been hard in that the fentanyl crisis is right on our doorstep and SOMA is one of the last places to bounce back post-COVID. It is maybe 50% of what it was in terms of businesses being open and people living and working downtown."

A key reason for why Trellis remains open, said Pan, is because they worked out a revenue-sharing deal with their landlord. Thus, both benefit when the business does well in a given month or they share in the financial pain when it doesn't.

"When we win, he wins. When things are hard, it is hard for both of us," said Pan, noting that they do have a guaranteed minimum they must pay each month.

And they cover any damage to the building, such as when someone lit it on fire or broke one of the windows.

"It allows us to operate in a way we wouldn't be able to otherwise," said Pan.

As for the global furniture company Ikea working to open nearby its own coworking space at the building it now occupies that straddles Market and Mission streets, Pan told the B.A.R. she is not concerned. Having opened the fourth coworking space in San Francisco back in 2010, she expressed confidence that the need for such offices has yet to be met.

"I am confident that the city's business market or population can sustain a coworking space on every block," said Pan.

Asked about Mayor London Breed's suggesting the shopping center vacated by mall operator Westfield a block away on Mission Street be turned into a soccer stadium, Pan told the B.A.R. she was unaware of the proposal. But if it had a similar impact as the Chase Center, built by the Warrior's basketball team, has had on its Mission Bay neighborhood, Pan said she would welcome such a sports arena and events space being built.

"My son retired from soccer when he was 7, so it is not a big passion for our family," Pan joked.

With its spacious three-level brick-and-timber building, Trellis provides private meeting rooms and office space, as well as communal areas, for those looking to work outside of their home. It offers different levels of paid monthly memberships and day passes, plus provides the option to rent out its private rooms for meetings or the entirety of the space for events.

In addition to welcoming in owners of tech startups and LGBTQ workers, Trellis has worked to be an inviting space for the local Filipino community. It sits within the confines of the city's Filipino cultural district and has opened up the space to be used by a number of Filipino organizations to have events there.

Having the cafe not in operation "was tragic," said Pan, as people routinely would try to order things from it. She told the B.A.R. they couldn't be happier in finally leasing it to the right partners in the Skyes.

"It felt obvious to us that we needed to activate this space," said Pan.

For the full menu at the DACHA Café and information about the soon-to-open restaurant, visit

To learn more about Trellis, visit its website at

Got a tip on LGBTQ business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail [email protected]

UPDATED 10/11/2023 to correct Suki Skye's ancestry and when the cafe closes.

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