Noe Valley Voice April 2005

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

WINNER BY A NOSE: Twin Peaks Properties owner Harry Aleo was making national news this spring--not for the conservative messages he posts in his store window, but for the speedy racehorse he owns.

Aleo, who has been involved in horseracing for the past 25 of his 85 years, bought a just-born colt three years ago from a horse farm in Ocala, Fla. The horse already had a very San Francisco name: Lost in the Fog.

Undefeated in his first four races, Lost in the Fog--based at Golden Gate Fields and raced by jockey Russell Baze--has now been featured in newspapers and on radio and TV outlets around the world. The Chronicle wrote up Aleo and his horse on Feb. 27, and since then stories have appeared in the New York Times, Newsday, and The Washington Post, just to name a few. The writers touted the horse as the one to watch in this year's Kentucky Derby (May 7), and some even speculated that Lost in the Fog could be our next Triple Crown winner.

As the media frenzy intensified, "people were contacting me from everywhere, offering to buy the horse," says Aleo. "Others made offers to syndicate him for stud purposes, and many others just wanted to talk about him," he says with a smile.

But by mid-March, Aleo had made it clear that Lost in the Fog was not for sale, and all this Triple Crown talk was nonsense. "It's fun to know that I have the fastest three-year-old in the country, but we'll take it one race at a time and hope he stays healthy."

According to Aleo, the media are the ones who sometimes get lost in the fog.

"No way is he going to be running in the Kentucky Derby this year," he says. "He has only been in four races, with the longest being seven furlongs. The Derby is a mile and a quarter, and it has a deep track where he would be running with around 18 other horses, in front of a hundred thousand or more screaming fans. It's just bad for the horse, and he could get seriously injured running such a long race this early in his career."

It looks like Lost in the Fog's next race will be the seven-furlong "Bay Shore" at Aqueduct in New York on April 9. "I would really like to have him race a mile [eight furlongs], but there isn't one scheduled anywhere in the country in the near future," says Aleo.

When Lost in the Fog returns to our golden sun, Golden Gate Fields racetrack is going to have a big homecoming party, says Aleo, "with some special surprises and hats and all that, the first part of May, so local fans will be able to see him."

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OUR WOMAN OF THE YEAR: On March 22, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors named Carol Yenne District 8's Woman of the Year. One "woman making history" from each of our districts was honored in ceremonies held in the supervisors' chambers.

District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty says he nominated Yenne because "she is a tireless watchdog for the neighborhood and its merchants. She challenges city departments, hammers me on Noe Valley issues, and has been key in the renovations of the Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library."

Yenne, who owns Small Frys kids' clothing store and is current president of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association, had her daughter Annalisa accept the award on her behalf. The honoree was not available because she was too busy campaigning on Noe Valley's behalf at a meeting with San Francisco Visitors and Convention Bureau President John Marks and representatives from the merchants in the Marina, Polk, and Union Street districts.

"This was a long-ago scheduled meeting that I couldn't miss, the purpose of which was to explore ways of getting better p.r. for our neighborhoods. I wanted to find ways to increase tourist awareness.... I was really sorry that I couldn't attend the ceremony," says Yenne, "but these are the kind of meetings you don't want to miss. I did finally make it to the great reception they had in City Hall for all the honorees."

The irony here is that Yenne's husband Bill, author of San Francisco's Noe Valley, is quite busy writing about history while Carol is out on the front lines making it. You go, girl.

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TOP DOGS: A benefit for Rocket Dog Rescue at Lovejoy's Tea Room on Church Street raised over $5,000 towards the $25,000 Rocket Dog founder Pali Boucher needs to open a canine "urban sanctuary." On hand were Supervisor Bevan Dufty and KCBS reporter Barbara Taylor, who took the opportunity to present Boucher with a Certificate of Honor for all her efforts at saving abused and neglected dogs.

Special thanks should also go to Lovejoy's Gillian Briley, who donated her service staff, tea, and food to host the 50-plus guests. Boucher's Rocket Dog Rescue will be featured in a one-hour special on cable TV's Animal Planet later this year.

Vicki Rosen, leader of the residents group Upper Noe Neighbors, is happy to report that the Planning Commission, after a February hearing, turned down the request of developer James Cassidy to eliminate the affordable unit from his large condo project at 29th and Dolores streets. Rosen, along with land use attorney Sue Hestor, spoke against the proposal at the hearing. The commission voted unanimously to keep the affordable unit.

Rosen wants all of you Upper Noe Valleons (my preferred spelling) to come to the UNN's next meeting on April 28 at 7:30 p.m., at the Upper Noe Rec Center on Day near Sanchez.

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MARKET QUOTES: You probably know by now that Ralphs/Bell Market on 24th Street was a hub of activity from March 28 to April 2. A notice the store sent out to customers in mid-March stated that Bell workers would be moving "sections around to accommodate a new Nutrition Department...and making more room for our large variety of organically grown fruits and vegetables."

Ralphs Marketing Director Chris O'Leary explains that the grocery is responding to what it thinks Noe Valley customers want. "We've wanted to do an upgrade of this store [for a while]," he says, "and we've developed a schematic system to meet our customers' demands. We'll be watching it very carefully because it will be a system test to be a model for other stores we have in Northern California, [especially] in our Marin County stores."

O'Leary, who oversees 317 Ralphs stores in California (281 in the Southland and 36 up north), will be coming up from So Cal later this month and joining the Friends of Noe Valley at their April 14 meeting at 7 p.m. at the Noe Valley Library. You can load him up with more suggestions there.

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DUELING SIGNS were draped across the tiny storefront of J. Allen Home Furnishings on the corner of 24th and Diamond last month (the original site of the S.F. Mystery Bookstore). The top sign said "Grand Opening," and below that were the words "Going Out of Business."

By the third week in March, the mystery was solved. The store was being vacated, and a message from J. Allen Grant on the door told us that he had closed but had plans to reopen in a new location. (Sorry, no clue where he's going. We'll let you know when we find out.)

There will soon be two big changes in the 3900 block of 24th Street. A Girl and Her Dog has a sad sign painted in the front window, "Goodbye, Girl--Goodbye, Dog." The lease expires at the end of April, and the stylish female and her pooch will be moving on.

Across the street, Panetti's Gifts is getting sold out down to the bare shelves, and word is, something different will be happening in that prime spot in May or June.

There was a grand reopening on March 8 at The Pickled Hutch antiques and collectibles store on Church near 28th Street. Former manager Lisa Wilson bought the business, previously owned by Debbie Cole. Wilson closed a few weeks for remodeling and now has a new and improved store and renovated back yard, filled with secondhand furniture, old china, picture frames, linens, jewelry, clothing, and garden accessories.

"We've had a huge show of support and appreciation of the changes since we reopened," says Wilson. "You have to come see it." The shop's new hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 to 6.

Expanding the business is also the plan at local independent drugstore RX Unlimited, on the corner of Castro and 22nd streets. The new general manager, Skip Haag, is extending store hours and providing more over-the-counter items, including nutritional supplements.

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TENGO HAMBRE: Fresca, the long-awaited Peruvian restaurant, is shooting for an April grand opening in the space on 24th Street across from Bell Market that housed Tien Fu for many years.

Jose Calvo-Perez, now 27 years old, will be stepping in as executive chef, leaving the very popular Fresca #2 that he and his dad, Julio Calvo-Perez, opened on upper Fillmore four years ago. Julio opened Fresca #1 in West Portal back in 1996, and that's where Jose was first introduced to the business.

"Sorry for the delay," says Jose, "but it has taken much longer to finish the restaurant than we ever imagined. Between dealing with the city and the contractors, it has been quite difficult, but we will have seating for 110 people with a full-service bar and a ceviche bar sometime around the middle of April."

Jose, a graduate of the California Culinary Academy, suggests you come in and try the "best ceviche on the West Coast." Ceviche is an appetizer made of fresh fish cured with citrus juices and "crunchy Peruvian corn," says Jose. He is creating a special ceviche for the Noe Valley opening, which he'll call "Cinco Elementos." We'll take 10.

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PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Local family doctor Daphne Miller has had an article published in the Winter 2005 issue of California Family Physician. She discusses practicing medicine "the old-fashioned way" at her Church at Army Street offices that she opened five years ago.

Miller's practice has become somewhat of a model for the future of medical practitioners. She doesn't accept insurance, so fees are entirely the patient's responsibility. Freed from administrative headaches, she says she has more time to make house calls and to do better office evaluations. "I don't have volumes of patients. I see only four to eight a day, and try to spend more time with each patient," says Miller.

"I'm not making money hand over fist, but I am making a living and having a medical practice on my own terms," says the Harvard Medical School graduate. "I am spending 90 percent of my workday on direct patient care, where my appointments can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour."


THAT'S 30, folks. Ciao for now.