MARCH, Sam Hamilton's kitchen-and-home boutique at 3075 Sacramento, has been around for eight years. But over the course of the past six months, Hamilton has transformed the shop from one dealing exclusively in large-scale antiques into a store that more closely resembles her original idea for the space. The new March houses a comprehensive tabletop division with curated and collaborative collections including pots from Brooklyn Copper, ceramics from Brickett Davda, table linens from Boxwood Linen,s and cast iron cookware from Lodge.
Hamilton also worked with her favorite food artisans to create a MARCH Pantry brand of organic jams, vinegars, extra virgin oils, and spices. MARCH Pantry oils are presented in indigo bottles from Albert Katz of Napa Valley, preserves and almond butters are produced by LouLou's Garden, and spices are provided by Le Sanctuaire.
Hamilton knows what she likes. The pieces she stocks are discreetly elegant, well-crafted, and practical. A bespoke butcher block draws guests to the action. A solid floating counter space where food can be both prepared and enjoyed was created by Hamilton herself in collaboration with Matt Bear of Union Studio. (Hamilton has been working with Bear in his Berkeley workshop for years.) Accessories for this and Bear's Carrera worktables include other Hamilton design collaborations, such as black ash baskets from Jonathan Kline of Black Ash Baskets and knife and cookbook sheaths from Big Bend Saddelry.
Hamilton credits her aesthetic to her mentors and previous employers Ralph Lauren and Alice Waters. (She never worked full-time as a chef, but she did complete an internship at Chez Panisse over a decade ago, when, captivated by San Francisco's burgeoning food scene, she attended cooking school.) She explains that the store's current remodel was inspired by the local food movement. "The transition this year to focus even more thoroughly on kitchen and dining was born of a desire to underscore what I find so exemplary in the Bay Area -- great food," Hamilton says.
In addition, Hamilton has been hosting benefits and book signings for fellow foodie friends. In fact, the soft reopening for MARCH was held on August 27 in way of an intimate dinner celebrating Chez Panise' 40th birthday, all proceeds went to Berkeley's Edible School Yard. The salon-style suppers are prepared and enjoyed in-house using MARCH's retail stock. Most recently guests' gathered around the butcher block, dining on pot pies cooked in the store's AGA Stove show piece. "I'm an AGA groupie," Hamilton admits.
She also plans to open her back gate and gardens to feature flowers and food. "I want to house a food cart, maybe morning pastries, which neighbors can enjoy back here over the Sunday paper, " Hamilton says. "We can sell cut flowers, not bouquets, but something you'd pick up for a dinner party, elevated but not too-too."
The rustic and warm presence of the store adds life to a beautiful yet often uninspired block. As Hamilton says, "I am determined to engage my somewhat sleepy neighborhood!"