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The Noe Valley location of Mamahuhu is the third to open. This location captures the refined evolution of the Mamahuhu brand and how it attracts their target clientele. This location was early in construction while the second in Mill Valley was celebrating their opening, allowing Studio BBA and the MMHH team to rapidly make final adjustments to get the perfect case study of their brand. Noe Valley shows off their strong graphic and spatial palette, which will be easily implemented into future locations. Even the booth design became a brand element, repeating itself within and across locations.

Formerly a soda fountain and coffee shop with a distinct U-shaped bar, Mamahuhu Noe Valley pays homage to its predecessor by creating a new u-shaped counter. The space is filled with quirky and silly elements a tongue-in-cheese response to the meaning of Mamahuhu, a 4-word Chinese idiom “horse horse tiger tiger” that can be translated to “so-so” or even “careless”. The quirky and fun nature of the design is balanced with precision in architectural detailing and construction to quality ingredients and food preparation, but most outstandingly in the function of the restaurant. Staffing efficiencies were maximized, considering down to how many steps from A to B, and careful consideration of ordering, queue, to-go, and the dine-in guest.

Working closely with the Mamahuhu team over the course of multiple years and projects created a fiercely trusting team. Together, we took risks and experimented – we started with too luxe at Clement, overcorrected in Mill Valley, and settled in at the brand’s self-declared sweet spot in Noe Valley. Each successes in their own, the breadth of the 3 restaurants creates a spatial palette that can be reproduced for potential expansion in companion with the design guidelines.


BBA Team

Bonnie Bridges

Megan McGuinn

Vishnu Balunsat


1,220 SF




MEP Engineering: Acies

Art: Casey Gray

Brand Styling: Whisk


Kristen Loken

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