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Storied: San Francisco

Mar 12, 2024

Mark DeVito, co-owner and COO of Standard Deviant Brewing, wouldn't last a day in a police lineup. But it might not be his curly handlebar mustache that gave him away. Mark has an outsize personality, to put it mildly. And back in December, I sat down with him and one of the SDB dogs, Beans, at the Mission brewery for what turned out to be quite the wild ride of a recording.
In Part 1, we learn about Mark's upbringing in smalltown New Hampshire—Hopkinton, to be specific. It's still a town-with-no-stoplights small. The summers were hot and the winters cold and snowy.
After hearing about two rather unfortunate stories from Mark's elementary school days, we move on to his teen years. He learned to play drums from a neighbor who taught music at his school. His parents placed him in a preparatory boarding school for high school, where he found an entire room full of instruments where he and his friends could play. And play they did. They formed a band that started playing around the area.
We go back a little so Mark can share his Italian grandparents' story of migrating to the United States and landing in Boston, where his dad grew up and where Mark soon found himself after high school. The gigs, mostly Grateful Dead covers but eventually more like jazz improv with a Miles Davis influence, were stacking up for Great American (named after a grocery store chain and having nothing to do with 9/11).
After his college years, some band members went their separate ways. But Mark and one of his buds decided to take a chance on San Francisco. Mark had visited and was blown away by the natural scenery and human creative energy here. Which, duh.
And so, in 2004, he moved here. From 2005 to 2010, Mark would spend around five months a year touring the country from his new hometown. The story of how he found a place to live—where he's still at today with his wife—is remarkable only in the sense that it doesn't really happen that way anymore. He was walking around the Mission taking down phone numbers written on "for rent" signs in windows when someone leaned their head out one of those windows and asked Mark if he wanted to see the place.
Check back next week for Part 2 with Mark and the story of Standard Deviant Brewing.
We recorded this podcast at Standard Deviant Brewing in the Mission in December 2023.
Photography by Jeff Hunt