SF restaurant Flour + Water to sell pasta at Whole Foods

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Popular San Francisco pasta restaurant Flour + Water is expanding its reach with a new retail company: Flour + Water Foods, a line of dried pasta for sale at grocery stores across the Bay Area. 

Boxes of spaghetti, elbow macaroni, penne and campanelle will be available at Northern California Whole Foods stores this month, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another). The boxes will also be sold at the Flour + Water Pasta Shop in the Mission District and on its website

“I just went to the Whole Foods by my apartment, which is the one in the Haight, and it’s on the shelf,” Flour + Water co-chef Ryan Pollnow told SFGATE on Thursday. “It almost brought me to tears.”

The idea to sell boxes of dried pasta came to Pollnow and co-chef Thomas McNaughton during the pandemic, when they said they had to reevaluate what was important to them. 

“Our restaurants are healthy and busy, but in reality, we’re only touching a couple hundred people a night,” McNaughton said. “The creation of our first line of dried pastas is twofold: We want to expand our hospitality reach further, and we want to impact how wheat is grown in America.”

Flour + Water’s new dried pasta retails for $5.99 a box, and a portion of proceeds support regenerative farming nonprofit Zero Foodprint.

Spencer Sarson/Courtesy of Flour + Water

Each box of organic Flour + Water Foods pasta retails for $5.99, with 1% of proceeds going to regenerative farming nonprofit Zero Foodprint. 

“We wanted to not be this crazy high-end niche pasta,” McNaughton said. “We want to feed the people. … There’s a lot of really cheap pasta out there, but we didn’t want to be the $12-a-box guys. Basically, we landed on $5.99 because it’s as affordable of a price that we could put forth in all the supply and demand of everything it took to put it on the shelf.”

While many cheap dried pasta producers use Teflon-coated molds to make pasta, Flour + Water Foods opted to use bronze molds. This method creates more textured, porous pasta that soaks up sauce better. Each Flour + Water box also includes a QR code leading to recipes for the different pasta shapes, complete with cooking videos.

Pollnow and McNaughton have their eyes on eventually expanding Flour + Water Foods dried pasta beyond Northern California stores and introducing more retail products. For now, though, they said they’re excited to see how it does in the geographical area where they have name recognition. 

“It’s emotional,” McNaughton said. “I think me and Ryan are so used to being chefs. Being in restaurants, you’re used to immediate results or gratification. … We’re almost two years into this. The whole process has been so long in the making, which makes it so crazy to get over the finish line.”

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