There’s a new bakery and convenience food supplier in Bayview that’s all gluten-free and vegan. Happy Vegan Restaurant & Café, run by Tobias Patella, serves dishes that are surprisingly delicious, given the myriad of delicacies they represent. The store offers everything from spicy chicken sandwiches fried in coleslaw to hash-filled bagels to strawberry pancakes that look positively gluten-filled (but, somehow, aren’t).
Batila moved from Southern California to work in tech consulting before finding work without a soul. He switched to a retail trail mix and granola, launching his company BetterFoods in 2016. Once he moved here, he realized there was a lot of potential for his location on 293 Bayshore Boulevard (accidentally next to San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, aptly named Old Clam House). “It’s a huge commercial kitchen, and we wanted to find a way to make better use of the space,” says Batila. “My dream has always been to serve fresh food directly to consumers.” Happy Vegan started during the pandemic, offering its merchandise exclusively through DoorDash and Uber Eats.
The outlet started with pastries like cakes and cupcakes, but within a couple of months, the menu had expanded to renditions of chicken, waffles, omelets, and sandwiches. A year and a half later, the site looks like it’s part of the Bayview Small Business Network. SFGATE applauded the tangy cheesecake of Patella cheesecake, and a round of applause for serving gluten-free vegan brownies in a city lacking in allergy-friendly cakes. Abanico Coffee is the roastery of choice, and Patilla notes that its espresso drinks and tea offerings are as good as anything you can get at Starbucks. “I am very happy to use their coffee,” says Patilla.
For Patila, his transition to a vegan system three years ago was all about the environment. There was no definite moment, no episode of induction, just a gradual observation of how his body interacted with animal products and burgeoning research on the impact of meat and dairy on the planet. “I want to do something that is sustainable for our planet and our health,” says Batila. This is the same reason that all prepackaged materials are also 100 percent biodegradable.
He runs the business on his own, but once he can, he’d like to expand into indoor seating in the future. He’s already in talks to get his hands on the goodies at the local cafes. Ultimately, expanding both his businesses — but especially the fresh, planet-friendly foods he serves with Happy Vegan — is how he wants to make his mark in San Francisco and the neighborhood. “A lot of people said they are happy that there is a new healthy option in the apartment complex,” says Batila. “The neighborhood has challenges, but a lot of people who live here say they are happy with the new food options.”
Happy Vegan is open Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 AM to 2 PM, and Saturday through Sunday, 8 AM to 2 PM for reservations or delivery.