Noe Valley Voice June 2005

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

FAREWELL, SILLY THINGS: On Memorial Day, Marjory Panetti took the signs out of the window and closed the doors to Panetti's Gifts, a popular fixture on 24th Street for nearly 20 years. After her long run, "it's kind of like the Ides of May, and I'm retired," she says gleefully. "But I loved being here all these years, and I will miss everyone."

During her gift store proprietorship, she was happy to "bring silly things to my customers, who had a great sense of humor," she says. "Probably the oddest gift I carried was Poo-Pets, little animals to put out in your garden that were actually made out of poop. They didn't smell like it anymore, of course."

As for the most popular gift item, "that would have to be the personality pillow, which had portraits of various famous people like Napoleon and Jack Kerouac," Panetti says. "We made a sign for one of them that said, 'Put Freud on Your Couch!'"

Panetti now plans "to travel a lot and see all the people I haven't seen for many years. When I get back, I want to start volunteering my time to work in the adult literacy program."

What will fill Panetti's storefront? A garden store named Urban Nest is all set to move into the space. We'll give you the scoop next month.

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SPRING RUMORS that Designers' Club, the women's boutique on the corner of 24th and Sanchez, would be going out of business have proved to be true. The store will close "sometime in July," says owner Prisca Bonati. Bonati says two things contributed to the decision: her lease ran out and the building was sold. "The new owners are planning a major renovation of the whole building, which should start later this year."

Bonati, who lives in Noe Valley, opened the store in 1989 as Designers' Club Too, when she also operated another women's boutique in North Beach called Designers' Club. That closed in the '90s, and the "Too" was dropped from the name of the Noe Valley store.

She says the new owners have offered to lease the space to her after the renovations are complete, but she will decline. "I will miss all my customers," she says, "but frankly I need a vacation from retail after all of these years. Maybe then I'll start up again with something new, but right now I have no plans."

It looks as if the corner will be under construction for a while. The new owners reportedly plan to expand the third-floor residential unit as well as the main floor and basement space, which was a framing shop in the 1980s. The fate of the tiny house standing at the back of the lot is unknown.

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BOLTS FROM THE BLUE: Meanwhile, rumors were circulating last month that Tuggey's Hardware Store was in trouble and that owner Denny Giovannoli was going to retire and close his business. The news sent shock waves through Downtown Noe Valley, so I am happy to report that the rumors are not true.

"I guess I started those rumors myself, earlier this year," says Giovannoli, "when business was way down and I was feeling that maybe it was not worth working six days a week anymore and it was time to retire. I have been here for over 28 years," he notes. Giovannoli was surprised that "a lot of people have come in asking me about [my talk of retirement].

"But I like this neighborhood too much, and business has picked up. I am still having a lot of fun doing this, so I'm not going anywhere," he says. Whew.

Tuggey's, a repository of hard-to-find screws, nuts, and bolts, is the second-oldest continuing business in Noe Valley. It was started by the Tuggey family at that location in 1898, and taken over from the Tuggeys by Giovannoli's dad, Bob, in 1957, who continued the tradition.

Bob turned over the keys to Denny in 1977, and he has operated the store ever since. We all hope the tradition will continue for another hundred years. "Oh, please," begs Denny.

By the way, the oldest ongoing store in Noe Valley is the Drewes Brothers meat market on Church and 29th Street, which first opened as Fairmount Meats in 1888. The store changed its name to Drewes in 1889, and then to Drewes Brothers Meats in 1998.

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HOMETOWN IMPROVEMENTS: The results of Friends of Noe Valley's annual survey of its membership (and of other neighborhood residents and workers) will be on the front burner at the group's general meeting on June 9, 7:30 p.m., at the Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library. Friends President Debra Niemann reports that the response to the survey was 37 percent greater this year.

"People were concerned most about the dirty sidewalks, litter, and graffiti, and the rising numbers of house and car break-ins in the neighborhood," she says. "And when we compared the issues from last year's survey, park and recreation issues were bigger concerns for people."

Respondents also complained that dog walkers should keep their canines on leash on 24th Street, and car owners should be a tad less aggressive, i.e., slow down and stop doing middle-of-the-block U-turns to grab a parking place.

Among their further wishes for Noe Valley were an organic grocery store, better and more diverse restaurant choices, a movie theater, a men's clothing store, a garden store, and a juice bar.

Another survey to be mulled over at the June Friends meeting will be the one taken a few months ago by the Friends of Noe Courts, a group of neighbors who'd like to spruce up the small park and playground at 24th and Douglass streets.

FLASH: At press time, Laura Norman, a cofounder of the Noe Courts group, wrote the Voice with some terrific news: The mayor's most recent capital budget has allocated $175,000 to Noe Courts. "We are very excited about this," says Norman. "It will take us a long way toward making some significant improvements to the park!"

Perhaps there's hope for my pet project (for the last 30 years): The city should fix the dang bathrooms. Noe Courts is one of the few parks where diapers are recommended for all ages.

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NEW ANTIQUES: Church Street is currently going through an antique store renaissance. A few years ago, many antique stores used to dot the street. Then one by one, most of them closed.

Last month, Lovejoy's Tea Room opened an antiques and collectibles shop, Lovejoy's Attic, right across the street from its tea palace at Church and Clipper. (See this issue's Store Trek.)

Now a new antique shop, to be called Lynn's Antiques and Beautiful Things, will open in July, in the space formerly occupied by Danu Salon on Church near 27th. The "Lynn" in the name is Church Street resident Lynn Ingham, and she says she is stocking the store with a trove of treasures.

After working for many years in marketing and advertising, which involved a lot of travel, Ingham is looking forward to spending time in the neighborhood and "using the creative part of my spirit." She got charged up for her new venture by volunteering at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market.

Lynn's Antiques will not only carry antiques, but also some mid-century and new home furnishings and accessories. "We've got a lot of hutches," Ingham says, "and I've been collecting all styles of dishware."

A third vintique store, Rosa Goes Shopping, is scheduled to open mid-June on Church a few doors north of 24th (where the Nor-Cal cigarette shop was for six months). Owners Rosa Florez-Hart and Felicia Weston will offer both antique and modern home accessories, and they'll be featuring local artists as well.

Florez-Hart, who has lived in Noe Valley for the past 18 years, recently left a longtime career as a social worker for the City and County of San Francisco. "I have also freelanced as a designer, and I'm excited about packing the shop with items of interest, and keeping the inventory fresh," she says. A specialty of the store will be a collection of restored footstools.

Florez-Hart is well aware that the neighborhood is becoming a vintage village. "I've been contacted by all the other antique stores on Church Street, and they said it's great we are opening and talking in the spirit of cooperation."

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TAG, YOU'RE IT: Merchants are relieved to learn that the infamous graffiti terrorist "ROC" has been apprehended by the San Francisco Police.

After a hiatus of several years, ROC's initials had suddenly appeared this spring at several Noe Valley locations, including the walls of the playground at James Lick Middle School. After the sightings, an e-mail alert authored by Smallfrys shop owner Carol Yenne went out to the members of the Noe Valley Merchants Association, with cc's to the SFPD and our supervisor, Bevan Dufty.

Wrote Yenne, "ROC has etched many windows in the neighborhood, some of which are still not replaced, and done thousands and thousands of dollars in damage to BART, Muni, and to other neighborhoods."

In May, SFPD Graffiti Abatement Officer Christopher Putz reported back, saying he "was recently able to get an arrest warrant issued for ROC for spray-painting Lick Middle School."

Then on May 9, ROC was caught while spray-painting his moniker on a Muni bus at 30th and Mission right in front of some police officers. Ingleside Station then booked him into county jail.

According to Officer Putz, ROC's hearing date has been scheduled for Friday, June 10, at 9 a.m., in Department 16 of the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street. The case is Superior Court #2218176.

Yenne wants all the merchants, especially those whose stores have been defaced, to try to attend the hearing. "This one person has caused havoc in Noe Valley for years, and he gets a slap on the wrist every time he's caught," moans Yenne. "We don't want this to happen anymore, so this time we want to make sure he is dealt with appropriately."

Mission Station Captain John Goldberg is also asking for a good showing at the hearing, which he describes as a "pre-trial conference" that is quite routine. Goldberg says for that very reason a strong attendance will take it out of the routine and emphasize to the court the seriousness of the case.

"Secondly, it will show support for the District Attorney's Office and our efforts to stop this destructive behavior, and thirdly it will let the defense know the gravity of the charges," Goldberg says.

Note that you will not be allowed to make a public statement at this hearing.

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CSI: NOE VALLEY: The May 2005 police blotter also noted an interesting event on May 4 at Noe's Bar (Church and 24th), which was picked up by Examiner reporter Alison Soltau.

On May 15, Soltau wrote, "Two savvy employees of a Noe Valley bar are being hailed as heroes after they thwarted a man's attempts to slip what police suspect was a date-rape drug into his unsuspecting companion's drink."

Noe's longtime bartender Hannah Oxley and waitress Karri Cormican, who has worked at Noe's for just over six months, are the eagle-eyed employees who saved the day. Captain Goldberg at Mission Station thinks the two employees should be commended for their heroic acts.

Cormican is taking the accolades in stride, and says she was just happy to have helped the woman. Here's how she describes what happened:

"This couple came in, obviously on a date, and I had not seen either one of them know, you kind of get to know the regulars. I served them two separate drinks, and the lady got up to go to the restroom. Then when I was returning to the table with their change, I saw the guy putting some white powder in the beer I had just served her. I told the man that the beer looked badly fermented and that I would take it back and bring out a new one."

Cormican went back to fetch another drink and told Oxley, who was behind the bar, what she had just seen. Meanwhile, the woman came out of the restroom and stepped outside onto the sidewalk.

Cormican went outside too, to tell the woman what had happened. "I learned that she had recently arrived in San Francisco and that this was her first date with this guy. While we were talking, Hannah saw him dump more powder into the second beer and she [promptly] phoned the police."

The man left the bar before police arrived, but subsequently has been questioned by them. The police are reportedly testing some crime-scene evidence that they took from Noe's.

According to Cormican, who brought the woman over to the bar to get her away from her "date," the couple met at a local dance class.

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RAVE REVIEWS: Publishers Weekly, the NYC trade journal, wrote last month that San Francisco's Noe Valley by Bill Yenne was "among the surprise bestsellers last year," along with two other Arcadia Publishing titles, Hudson's: Detroit's Legendary Department Store, and Chicago's Riverview Amusement Park.

According to Arcadia's local editor, John Poultney, Yenne's book is ready to go into its fourth printing. Arcadia also has just released another great book in the "Images of America" series, about the oldest neighborhood in San Francisco, the Presidio. It should be available soon at Cover to Cover or Phoenix Books.

Lastly, for all you horseracing fans, Lost in the Fog won his race on May 14 and set a Golden Gate Fields track record. Owner Harry Aleo is ecstatic and will next race him at Belmont on June 7, in a seven-furlong race. Those who follow the horses say Lost in the Fog is the fastest sprinter in the land. I think this is Noe Valley's first national sprint champion. Are there any other horses in Noe Valley?

That's all, you all. Ciao for now.