Noe Valley Voice May 1998

Rumors Behind the News: Department of Redundancy Department

By Mazook

CLIMB HALFWAY TO THE STAIRS: Any day now, a group of neighbors on the hill atop 27th Street between Noe and Castro should see construction workers pouring concrete for a public stairway leading from an existing stairway next to an apartment building on the 27th Street cliff above Noe Street, up to a cul-de-sac in the dead-end 500 block of 27th Street connecting to the intersection of Castro and Newburg streets. (Need oxygen?)

The new stairway, which will also have some nifty landscaping around it, has been eagerly anticipated for close to two years, because it will finally give the residents up there in the Himalayas easy access to the 24-Divisadero, J-Church, and the coffee delights of the Flatlands below.

You all remember back in 1996 when the residents, aided by the Duncan Newburg Association (DNA), struck a deal with developer Doug Shaw to fix up the lane next to the condominium project he was building. (It's finished now and it's a real beauty, but it's definitely big.)

Shaw put up $7,500 for beautification of the scraggly bluff -- for soil, trees, and a retaining wall -- while the DNA enlisted the aid of San Francisco Beautiful, Muni, and Supervisor Barbara Kaufman, who was also one of the S.F. Transportation Authority commissioners. Bingo!

On Sept. 16, 1996, the Transportation Authority allocated $110,000 for the new stairs. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Public Works agreed to coordinate the stairway construction with another DPW project (funded by good ol' Proposition B), to shorten the east median strip on the 500 block of 27th, modify the grade, and build a new sidewalk.

Twenty-seventh Street resident Dennis Downing says all signs are "go" for the stair project to start in early May and be completed within "about 90 days." The landscaping and finishing touches should be done in time for a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September.

"I'll tell you," says Dennis, "we would not have gotten it done without Supervisor Kaufman, who was so enthusiastic in her support, and without Ray Gigliati of DPW, who manages the street use permits and guided us through this project."

Congratulations and happy hiking.

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RIBBONS WERE BEING CUT by Starbucks at the April 4 grand opening of its newest coffee mart, this one at Church and Market streets. (That explains last month's frantic rumors about a "Starbucks on Church Street!" which everybody assumed meant our part of Church.)

The Market Starbucks must be their 27th store in the city, but who's counting. The shop faces Dolores Street but actually is situated between the newly renovated Safeway and the San Francisco Mint. It's hard to tell which one of the three will make more money.

Anyway, featured on the Starbucks' interior wall is a great mural done by Noe Valley artist Josef Norris. Josef won a contest sponsored by the coffee giant and topped over 30 entries from around the Bay Area. "Josef's work stood out for its strong sense of neighborhood," said the Starbucks gang.

His 10-by-11-foot mural depicts scenes from the Castro and Upper Market area, plus Noe Valley and the Mission, and other local hangouts. (Some of you might have seen Josef's somewhat famous mural at the Adolph Gasser camera store on Folsom Street, which is 3 feet by 45 feet.)

According to Josef, who lives at Castro and Jersey, his inspiration came from the coffeehouses he frequents in Downtown Noe Valley. "I regularly go to Spinelli, Starbucks, down to Martha's, and spend a lot of time at Muddy's down 24th to Valencia."

With that kind of coffee circuit, this artist must rarely sleep.

By the way, Starbucks donated the proceeds from the grand opening to the Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC). This nonprofit group operates a youth center in San Francisco that serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.

Says Rhonda Rigenhagen of Starbucks, "The LYRIC fundraiser is part of our ongoing commitment to the Church and Market neighborhood. This community offers so many ways to get involved."

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ANOTHER NOE VALLEY ARTIST, Mark Rubnitz, cut the ribbons on his new studio on the island of Alameda April 25. The studio/shop is called Atomic Glass.

Mark is a glass blower who has hooked up with a business partner, Richard Ross. He and Richard have been working the past seven months converting a former yacht building warehouse into a 1,600 sq. ft. glass-blowing facility.

"I went across the Bay to Alameda because you can still get good space for a decent rent there," says Mark. "The commute is not bad and the studio is right off the Park Street Bridge [on the estuary], which makes it real easy."

Mark invites his neighbors to drop by for a visit on the weekdays. Atomic Glass is also open the first Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., "for people who can't make it during the week but who want to come by and watch the glass-blowing process in action."

Mark also wants to put out the word to all you parents out there that he and Richard are encouraging groups, schools, and other educational organizations to call and schedule demonstrations and/or lectures. The number is 510-864-7296.

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PROLIFIC NOE VALLEY AUTHOR Bill Yenne has recently had two books published by First Glance Books. Yenne has authored more that two dozen other books and is really excited about his latest.

The first is Classic Woodies: A National Treasure, a large-format art book that has more than 100 photos of these wood-paneled cars snapped by Yenne during "runs" with the Santa Cruz Woodie Club. "There's a woodie revival today that is putting more and more of these great machines on the street," he says.

The other book is titled Seaplanes of the World: A Timeless Collection from Aviation's Golden Age. Here the title quite succinctly tells you the contents of the book (it has 175 photos).

Bill and his wife Carol have lived in Noe Valley since 1975. He runs a Church Street business called American Graphic Systems, which has produced more than 160 books since 1981. Carol Yenne owns Small Frys on 24th Street.

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AT THE END OF THEIR ROPE are the Frankel Brothers, who recently closed their FBHO hemp products store at 3817 24th St. near Church. They were there for about a year. (Remember when actor Woody Harrelson showed up at the store's ribbon-cutting ceremony?)

Before the hemp place, the storefront was occupied by the Planters Nursery, a flower and garden shop that has now moved its wares into the patio out back.

Bob Frankel says he's closing his doors in Noe Valley and that his plans to move FBHO's retail shop to Irving Street have not materialized. "April 30 will be our last day, because there hasn't been enough business here to meet our expenses. We're going to concentrate on our catalog and do business on the Internet at I want to thank everybody in Noe Valley for your help and support and patronage."

Meanwhile, false rumors have been circulating in Downtown Noe Valley that the hemp store building has been sold to developer Joe Cassidy (the one who built the large complex next to Bell). The grapevine also has it that the new owner plans to demolish the Victorian and build four or more residential units above a commercial store.

But as of late April, the property was still for sale. And Joe Cassidy says no, he didn't buy it, but that whoever did would probably demolish it and put up a new structure!

In a geographically related item, Happy Donuts at Church and 24th finally got its cabaret permit from the Police Department on April 27 and started staying gloriously open past 2 a.m. on April 29. With the cabaret license, maybe the Happy folks can give us some dancing donuts.

In a non-related item, the same Joe Cassidy referred to above also says that he has yet to decide which stores will go into his commercial space next to Bell Market. "I've gotten a lot of interest in the space," he says, "but I really haven't decided who I am going to rent to."

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SHORT SHRIFTS: The A & A Market at Sanchez and 26th closed suddenly around Easter time. Until the past few years, this Mom and Pop was a thriving operation. But lately the shop's been looking awfully sketchy. Well, bye bye.

It was bye bye to Ecollectic in the Noe Valley Mall and hello to the Nail Club, which will no doubt supply our apparently unquenchable demand for manicures and pedicures.

Noe Valley got short shrift from the corporate headquarters of both Home Savings and Rite Aid this spring. Neither chain opted to continue the practices of their predecessors (Coast Savings and Thrifty Jr.) by selling Muni Fast Passes to our commuting masses. Why can't Bank of America or Walgreens or some other local business pick up the Fast Pass thing and run with it?

The latest coffee den on Church Street is Chuck's Sun Valley Dairy at the corner of 28th Street. At the register you will find a thermos full of "Chuck's Jet Fuel," which is guaranteed by Chuck to straighten out your streetcar tracks out front.

The rumor up in the Fairmount neighborhood is that Maverick's coffeehouse on the corner of Chenery, Whitney, and Miguel will not reopen as a coffeehouse, but as a laundry instead.

And a lot of folks are looking forward to the reopening of the Noe Hill Laundry at Noe and 22nd, which should be soon.

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WELCOME BACK to Peter Darasom and T.J. Jackovich, the very popular former waiter/managers at the very popular Chloe's Cafe at Church and 26th.

The pair left last summer and moved to Thailand, where they opened a bakery and cafe in Bangkok. (The Voice did a farewell piece in the March '97 issue.) Then the bottom dropped out of the Far East.

"We were in the wrong place doing the wrong thing at the wrong time," says T.J. "We were caught up in the Asian economic crisis," agrees Peter, who originally hails from Thailand.

By January 1998 the partners had had enough, so they gathered their resources and moved back to San Francisco. T.J. returned to part-time work at Chloe's.

Well, after an exhausting search, T.J. and Peter have bought a business in Japantown (1826 Buchanan St. near Sutter). If all goes well, they will open their own Cafe Jubilee, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in July.

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FINALLY, FOLKS, don't forget to vote in the election coming up the first Tuesday in June. The goal in a democracy is of course to get 100 percent of registered voters to actually go to the polls. Tell 25 or more friends: VOTE JUNE 2!

You also might want to start collecting your old photos and ticket stubs from the 24th Street movie palaces of yesteryear. Noe Valley History Day is coming up on June 13. This year's theme is "Noe Valley -- The Way It Was," which I guess means anything pre-Starbucks.

If you want to help plan the celebration, call our chief archivist, Paul Kantus, at 647-3753, or check in with Carol Small at the Noe Valley Library, 695-5095.

That's all, you all. Until next time: Roger, Wilco, and out.