It began with monthly salons in their living room—an intimate space where women with political ambitions could gather to discuss local issues and ways to support one another over wine, cheese and charcuterie. A decade later, it has evolved into a local business for women run by women.
The brainchild of Kate Maeder and Kaela Miller, the Scarlet Fox wine bar, market and salon is set to open in the former location of Hayes Street Laundry at 1690 Hayes St. in the summer of 2023. The married couple come to the venture with years of experience in wine, hospitality and civic engagement.
All will be welcome at Scarlet Fox. But according to Maeder and Miller, the business will have a clear focus on women and the local lesbian community.
"We've had conversations with the lesbian community over the last few years, and so many women felt like there wasn't a space for them anymore in San Francisco," Maeder said.
Scarlet Fox will serve light fare, including charcuterie and cheese boards, with a wide selection of wines chosen by Miller. Customers will also be able to purchase wine bottles to go and have the option to bring in their own food.
Currently, the couple has no plans to organize their menu thematically or by region. Rather, Miller explained, she and her partner will make selections based on their personal tastes. “It's going to be ... what I'd serve in my living room or dining room.”
The duo also plans to support local female artists with art installations and will host events for queer women political candidates or leaders of nonprofit organizations.
“It's the intersection of promoting, supporting and empowering women, but also catering to our local neighbors and making sure everybody feels welcome,” Miller added.
Maeder has been a driving force in the political arena for the past decade, working to empower the next generation of women leaders. As the campaign manager for the historic election of California's first female lieutenant governor, Eleni Kounalakis, and the founder of Women Get It Done, an organization that provides support and resources for aspiring female leaders by hosting monthly salons out of her living room, Maeder has been a crucial figure in the fight for gender parity in politics.
Miller has devoted 17 years of her life to the hospitality industry and is passionate about the sense of community she has found within it. She has been a sommelier at places like The Battery, a wine buyer for Crush Wine Bar and most recently curated wine pairings for Anomaly, a seven-course tasting pop-up restaurant owned by renowned Chef Michael Lanham.
When Scarlet Fox opens, the couple plans to devote all their time to their new business. “We’re married and already make a great team and, over the past several months, have realized that we are great business partners as well. It’s been a lot of fun working together,” said Maeder.
While the underlying concept for Scarlet Fox may have come naturally to Miller and Maeder, the couple found the permitting process quite challenging. Maeder credits the recently adopted Proposition H with making it all possible and says creating a space for locals to discuss important city issues is close to her heart.
“It’s crazy to think about opening a business in the city of San Francisco [where it is] is notoriously challenging to do so, but we’ve never been afraid of a challenge,” Maeder said. “We’re excited and hope to be the success story of a small business being able to open because San Franciscans voted to make it easier.”
The Scarlet Fox founders even have one particularly high-profile female politician pulling for them:
“This is a good example of why we must continue to move forward with common-sense policy and streamlined processes for the betterment of San Francisco,” Mayor London Breed told The Standard in response to a question about Scarlet Fox. “It should be easy to do business in our city.”