Noe Valley Voice October 2002

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

THIS PAPER MAY BE FREE, but it is not worthless. If you read last month's Voice, you could have saved big bucks by clipping the coupons of many of our local merchants (without whose help there would be no newspaper).

You could have gotten a free pound of pasta when you bought a "homemade pasta sauce" at PastaGina on Diamond Street, and that would have saved you $4.95. The folks at Copy Central at 3181 Mission gave you 20 percent off all those flyers you made to advertise your garage sale. That had to be at least five dollars.

Hamano Sushi had two coupons: 20 percent off for lunch and $5 off at dinner. That's at least eight dollars you were able to leave in your pocket. So, three ads down and you've got $12.95.

Kids' Cuts, over on 29th near San Jose Avenue, has a $2 off coupon for haircuts between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. That takes it down to 10 bucks from the normal 12, but the kids should be under 14.

And then there was the 20 percent off from Eaton and Associates Computer Solutions, for onsite or walk-in service. Computer foul-ups can run into some major cash. When your Mac or PC crashes, and you know it will, then best cut out that coupon (it's on page 30 this month).

Martha & Bros. had a coupon entitling you to a free bag of 40 Filtropa filters when you bought your one-pound bag of coffee. Noe Valley Bakery has been for the past three months giving a 20 percent discount on Tuesdays to seniors (65 and older). Flirt boutique on 22nd Street has Skirt Saturdays, when you can "shop at Flirt in a skirt on a Saturday and receive 10 percent off your purchase." I might have to pass on that one.

San Francisco Auto Repair Center offers three coupons: $10 off smog inspection, $10 off an oil change, and a free brake and safety inspection, on which they place a $46 value. I also was very happy to see that Rent-A-Wreck offers "free pickup in Noe Valley."

Do they pick up human wrecks? I'll find out.

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KIDS AND DOGS AND CATS, OH MY: There were some freebies for the kiddies, of which there are countless in Noe Valley. Terra Mia's pottery studio offers free kids' paint time on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 1 to 4 p.m. Studio time for kids would normally be four dollars. Go there three times a week, and that's $12 saved, per child.

For all you pet owners, Noe Valley Pet Company on the corner of Church and Cesar Chavez offered a low-cost vaccine clinic for your dog and/or cat, as well as anesthesia-free teeth cleaning. There are, without a doubt, more cats and dogs in Noe Valley than kids. I've heard rumors that there are slightly more dogs in this city than children.

Anyway, according to Mary Fry of the Pet Company, the animal vaccine program is very popular. "We get 20 to 30 people each session and have at least two sessions a month." The next ones will be on Thursdays, Oct. 10 and 24, between 6 and 7:30 p.m. "Dog packs go for anywhere from 27 to 38 dollars and cat packages run about the same," she says.

As for the anesthesia-free teeth-cleaning, Fry reports, "The canine hygienist, known as 'Molar Coaster,' used to come in and brush dogs' teeth by hand without giving them any anesthesia, unlike the vets and vet techs who usually do it with anesthesia [so they don't get bitten in the process]. He was very popular, especially with the owners of older dogs who feared that a knock-out drug could kill or seriously harm their pet."

But according to Fry, the store has temporarily discontinued the service due to pressure from veterinarians who claim Molar Coaster is practicing veterinary medicine without a license. "I feel real sorry for the old dogs who would come in and allow this guy to get down on the floor with them and painstakingly gently brush their teeth, which the dogs must have appreciated since I never saw him get bitten, and which their owners liked because...well...have you ever smelled an old dog's breath?" Not being a dog owner or knowing any dogs well enough to get that intimate, I had to say, "No, but I know what you mean."

Mr. Molar Coaster, a.k.a. Rob Burks, confirmed that he does his dog dental hygiene at a number of pet stores in the Bay Area, but no longer at NVPC. "Evidently, some veterinarians think that I am doing something only they are licensed to do. I've had an arbitration over this issue and have won, yet they put pressure on the pet stores where I've set up clinics to stop the service," said Burks. "I am currently cutting back my schedule because of all the hassles and because of the pressures the pet store owners [of which Burks is one] get from some of the vets in their community, and I am thinking of discontinuing the clinics altogether."

Burks says, however, that he will continue the canine teeth cleanings that he has scheduled through November, and then evaluate his options. "I have gotten a great response from all the communities where I do my clinics, and NBC Channel 3 has contacted me to do a story about what I do, but it all seems too much of a hassle for everybody but the dogs."

For old dog owners who really need Molar Coaster's service, which on the average costs $75 (some vets charge as much as $300), you can reach him at 415-269-6210. Old dogs of Noe Valley, unite!

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A BARGAIN FEAST: I was delighted to learn that Firefly, on 24th near Douglass, has instituted a $30 per person fixed-price menu Monday through Thursday for the first hour after the restaurant's opening clang at 5:30 p.m. This entitles you to your choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert with coffee or tea. I'll tell you what my order would be: their world-famous pot stickers for openers ($8.75), then the scallops and mashed potatoes for the main course ($21), and finish off with the molten chocolate truffle cake with vanilla gelato ($7.75) and an Earl Gray decaf tea ($3.50). That's 11 bucks saved on the meal.

Over at Diamond and 24th Street, Bacco, which had a good review in the Chronicle recently, has an early-bird fixed-price menu on the same days and times as Firefly. The price is $23, and gets you a salad, pasta appetizer or soup, followed by a fish or meat plate, and dessert with coffee or tea. There's another $11.50.

I've also been meaning to check out the $29.95 dinner special for two at Fattoush on Church Street. You pick two entrées, say a shish kebab or chicken kebab, with salad and humus. You can order the special to go any time, or dine in on Monday through Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The Chenery Park Restaurant at Chenery and Diamond in Glen Park has "Family Night" on Tuesdays, when they cater to the kids with a special menu. Those of you who toil in restaurants also should be aware that according to owner Joe Kowal, "Sunday night is 'Industry Night,' when we will reduce your party's bill by 10 percent if you show us some proof that you work in the restaurant industry." Kowal says bring your business card, pay stub, or ID badge to get the discount.

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A SLICE OF LIFE: Then there are those Cybelle's Pizza coupons that used to be in the Voice pages but which have been conspicuously absent for a while. When I phoned the manager to find out why, I learned that the 24th Street pizza parlor has a new owner, John Huynh (pronounced "Win"), who will be expanding Cybelle's menu and hours.

"We are now open for weekend brunch from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays," says Huynh, "and serving all kinds of egg dishes, pancakes, French toast, and a French roast coffee. We are also adding sandwiches and dinner specials to our dinner menu."

Huynh, who bought the restaurant a little over a month ago and who lives in Oakland, says he's already noticed some strange quirks in the local tastes. "Everybody is ordering our poached-egg dishes, which I found surprising." I predict Huynh will realize that Noe folks want a frothy latté with their poached eggs and eggs benedict and that he will soon have to pop for an espresso machine or run up to Martha's to pick up the special orders.

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TOP OF THE POPS on the video scene seems to be Monsters, Inc., since that was at the top of the list at all three stores Video Wave, Noe Valley Video, and 1st Choice Video. Video Wave also reports high demand for a light romantic comedy with a no-name cast: Kissing Jessica Stein. Still, according to Jim Leal of 1st Choice, "New releases come and go, but the first choice day in and day out is The Sopranos," HBO's monster hit.

In musicland, Streetlight Records reports that the new Coldplay CD is rockin' and rollin' out the door. It is the group's second album and called A Rush of Blood to the Head.

On the live music scene, the kids' jam session at Cover to Cover every Wednesday mornings at 10:30 is a big hit and it is free.

For those of you who read, Cover to Cover reports that the fiction bestseller continues to be The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which is about the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl. Tops on the nonfiction list is Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis, a sports writer turned competitive Scrabble player on the circuit. Cover to Cover's children's book club has chosen Pharaoh's Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, by Julius Lester, and Dark Wind by Tony Hellerman.

Over at Phoenix Books, Lovely Bones again tops the fiction list, and very much in demand is Glen David Gold's mystery set in 1920s San Francisco, Carter Beats the Devil.

Up 24th Street at the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, the whodunit currently most in demand is Faceless Killers, by the Swedish writer Henning Mankell. Mystery owner Diane Kudisch says Killers is a police procedural set in a small town in Sweden. Taks a myket for that.

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SOLE SURVIVOR: The scoop on the defunct Wooden Heel, Downtown Noe Valley's only shoe repair shop, is that it has miraculously been renewed like an old shoe, now as Mike's Shoe Repair Shop. Yes, Helen Wenschenk at age 90 will continue working there, as she has since 1949, when it was located in the east half of what is now Ambiance. And Patti Wood will be back at the front counter, where she stood from 1977 (when she bought the business from Wenschenk) to 1998, when she sold the business to those folks who abandoned the store this spring.

"Barry [Wood] and I were able to regain possession of the business and find someone who would take it over and continue with the shoe repair services, since Barry is a full-time police officer. Luckily we found Mike," says Patti. "We came in here and cleaned it out, redid the interior, and retooled the machinery, and finally got the place open, and all I can tell you is that I am so happy to be saving soles on 24th Street again after four years away."

"Mike" is actually Miguel Arqueta, who also has a shop on Third Street (near Folsom) and has been working with shoes since he was 8. He helped his father who operated a shoe factory in El Salvador. Arqueta, 42, has been renewing soles in San Francisco for about eight years and does shoe repairs for the San Francisco Opera and local ACT stage productions.

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I AM A PRESERVATIONIST so it was nice to see that the house directly across from the oldest house in Noe Valley (on 23rd Street between Church and Chattanooga) was recently bought by Eileen and Chip Bayers, who plan to restore the relic to its original 1915 condition. The house was owned by the Ting family for many, many years.

"We have been restoring all of the original wood floors, the staircase, and the breakfront in the dining room," says Chip, "rebuilding the original stained-glass window, and restoring each of the three bedrooms and the downstairs double parlor. We're moving here from North Beach and found that Noe Valley was the best place to find an older house that we could restore."

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THAT'S ALL, YOU ALL. Do not forget to do the right thing and vote on Nov. 5, for the candidates and props of your choice. Let's see if we can get an 85 percent neighborhood turnout, which will make us look good compared to the 35 percent likely to vote statewide. Go, do.M