On the Road in San Francisco

In San Francisco, you can find a nail salon on practically every block

SAN FRANCISCO - In San Francisco, you can find a nail salon on practically every block. You have both ends of the spectrum — lower-end discount salons and high-end day spas — and just about everything in between. I asked a friend who lives in the city for a recommendation and she told me about a new salon called Mani/Pedi Beach House Nail Salon (boy, that’s a mouthful) in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco.

And even though owner Kelly Hensley had just opened her doors five weeks prior to my appointment, the salon was bustling from the time I walked in. A former advertising art director, Hensley noticed that something was missing from her funky San Francisco neighbourhood — a nail salon. Potrero Hill, a 15-minute taxi ride from the center of town, is a “neighbourly” neighbourhood. With an amazing view of the city, this growing artists community features eclectic floral shops, organic grocers, restaurants, and thanks to Hensley, a discount nail salon with a funky beach house feel.

Hensley, who advertises for her employees in a Vietnamese-language paper, wanted to open a discount salon that would be different. She found an amazing corner spot at the top of the hill that used to be a real estate agency and gutted it She painted the walls yellow, got rid of all the dark wood, brought in custom-made tables, and decorated with distressed objects you might find in an old beach house. The three long tables can accommodate two clients each. And while appointments are a smart idea, they aren’t necessary.

As I got my manicure and pedicure, I felt a real sense of community. Hensley knew people by name, offering them water or green tea upon entering. She introduced us to one of her first clients, who raved about the newest addition to the neighbourhood, and pointed out another client who owns the flower shop down the street that does all of the flower arrangements in the salon. While clients’ nails are drying, they sit facing a community message board with everything from announcements to local proprietors’ business cards to people looking for a babysitter.

My service was simple and quick—my nail techs did a great job on the polish and I even got rhinestones put on my big toes. It was a low-frills service, which was perfect. Sometimes you just want to go in, get your nails done, and get out to enjoy the rest of your day. This was a great way to spend an afternoon with a friend we were in and out in just over an hour — leaving time for a late lunch at a local deli.

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