Noe Valley Voice April 2007

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

THE ANSWER MAN: Last month, we left you with some Noe riddles to answer. The editorial staff reports that absolutely noe one was able to answer all the questions correctly. Oh, well. Here are the questions again, and the answers:

1. What was Star Magic first called when it opened on the corner of 24th and Noe in 1979 (actually, Christmas season 1978)? Gifts of the Magi. In 1979, the store moved to 4028 24th Street, where Bliss Bar is now. Star Magic shone for nearly 20 years, till 1998.

2. Where did the Noe Theater once stand? Where the building is that now houses Just for Fun, across from Herb's Fine Foods.

3. What was Herb's Fine Foods called when it first opened in 1943? "X the Noe," because it was a soda fountain directly across from the Noe Theater. It was opened in 1943 by Cyril Saunders, who sold it to Herb Gaines in 1945. In 1953, Gaines changed the establishment's name to his own.

4. What is Noe Valley's longest-running business, opening in 1888? That would be Drewes Market, located at 1706 Church, at 29th Street.

5. Where was a Bakers of Paris once located in Downtown Noe Valley? Right next to Herb's, where Ambiance now resides. Bakers of Paris opened its Noe Valley branch in 1982 and closed 16 years later.

6. What's the oldest house in Noe Valley? When was it built? The oldest house in Noe Valley was constructed in 1869 and is now located at 3780 23rd Street. Its original location was 1081-85 Church Street, but it was moved in 1900, when Church Street was graded.

7. Where in Noe Valley is the second steepest hill in San Francisco? That would be 22nd Street, from Vicksburg to Church Street. It has a 38-degree grade, second only to Filbert Street between Hyde and Leavenworth streets (39 degrees).

8. On which corner is the house that former mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph built for his mistress back in 1929? That would be the Tudor mansion on the northeast corner of 21st and Sanchez streets.

9. Where does Upper Noe Valley end and the Fairmount begin? Too simple--Fairmount is on the south side of 30th Street, Noe Valley on the north.

10. Who was Elizabeth Street named after? She was John M. Horner's wife. Horner was the first developer in Noe Valley. When he originally mapped out our neighborhood, he called 22nd Street John Street, and 23rd Street Horner Street.

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RUN SMOKEY RUN: More than 50 members and friends of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association took a trip to Bay Meadows Racetrack on Sunday, March 11, to see our new hometown favorite, Smokey Stover, race to victory in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. Smokey Stover is a 4-year-old gelding owned by 24th Street's resident icon, Twin Peaks Properties proprietor Harry Aleo.

Scott Ostler reported on the race in the Chronicle on Monday the 12th: "Even though he got a quick jump, he had to maneuver through plenty of traffic. But he's fast, cool, and determined. He found holes, sprinted through them, and headed hard for the finish line. We're not talking about Smokey Stover, the nation's sprint sensation. We're talking about Harry J. Aleo, Smokey Stover's 87-year-old owner. Seconds after Aleo's new wonderhorse smoked a four-horse field Sunday at Bay Meadows, Harry was in full stride." To the winner's circle, that is.

The victory was Smokey's sixth in 10 races. "And he's come in second the other four times," says Aleo. "He was rated the number-one sprinter in the U.S. by the Daily Racing Form."

Next up for Smokey, his owner says, is the April 7 Potrero Grande Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita, with a purse of $200,000. The race is a 61/2-furlong sprint.

Oh, and all those Noe Valleyans who went to Bay Meadows and bet on Aleo's horse were rewarded with $2.40 on their $2 bet, except Aleo himself, who was rewarded with $55,000 in prize money. In the horseracing world, that just about covers the expense of transportation and meals for the next race.

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STRUMMING IN THE STREET: Tully's Coffee got a little bit country on the afternoon of Saturday, March 10, as Belle Monroe (of Belle Monroe & Her Brewglass Boys) and members of the Tie-One-Ons played outside the café for an appreciative crowd of strollers and coffee drinkers.

Monroe says she and her group came out to play because of the balmy weather, and were generously rewarded by a guitar case full of bills. If you want to see Belle and the Boys, they will be playing for free on April 14 at the Riptide on Taraval and the Great Highway.

Upper Noe Neighbors held its own party on March 29 at the 30th Street Senior Center. Called "Last of Our Teenage Years," the bash, in the words of UNN president Vicki Rosen, was "to celebrate 19 years of trying to make our part of Noe Valley better, and to thank our friends and neighbors for all of their support."

Appetizers and desserts from La Méditerranée were served, and dance music was provided by Upper Noe deejay Denise Dunne. After the party, the Neighbors got down to the serious biz of nominating club officers.

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A GRAND OPENING PARTY has been slated for mid-April for the new store that popular local jewelry designer Gilbertina Guarini and husband Bruno Guarini are opening at 4068 24th Street, in the space formerly occupied by their shop Cottage Industry.

Bruno and Gilbertina have spent the last several months selling the Cottage Industry inventory and remodeling the store to have a fresh look and a garden in the back with trees, fountains, and stone Buddhas. It will be called Qoio, and will be an expansion of the tiny Qoio jewelry shop and studio they currently own across from Bell Market.

Gilbertina says the burgundy velvet curtains that have been draped over the windows at the new place will be lifted soon. "We are going to quietly open the store in the beginning of April...and then post an invitation [on the front of the store] to the neighborhood to join us at the store for a grand opening with food and beverages."

The Guarinis, who live on 24th Street with their two daughters, Natalie and Kirsten, will keep the small studio space, which is below street level under Artsake. "I have been in that studio for almost 10 years," says Gilbertina. "I really like the space and I just don't want to give it up yet."

As you Qoio fans know, each of Guarini's designs is unique, and she says her most popular jewelry pieces these days are the "wire-works" necklaces. "I am seeing a lot of girls coming in and picking out these kinds of necklaces to wear to their school proms."

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THAT EMPTY FEELING: If you reread the March 2006 Rumors (which you can do at, you will see an item stating that the former Mikeytom Market, after three years of lying fallow at Church and Day streets, was rented to an enterprise called Church Day Solutions LLC. The LLC (limited liability company) was going to renovate the place, obtain a beer and wine license, and open a restaurant featuring California cuisine.

Well, now that the paper covering the storefront windows has fallen down, everybody can see that nothing has happened in the past year. Evidently, the LLC ran into some problems whose solutions eluded them.

The building owner, Peter Kung, says the space will be for rent again soon. Court records indicate that there is currently an action pending by Kung to evict the LLC, which apparently has not officially vacated the storefront.

Kung also put to rest the rumor that Chow restaurant had plans to open in the space. "None of those rumors are true, although I wish they were," says Kung.

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CELEBRATING 20 YEARS in Noe Valley are Danny Forchione and Tom DiSerio, who opened Andiamo Gourmet Deli on the northeast corner of Diamond and Elizabeth on April 17, 1987.

"We took over Nuccio Deli," says DiSerio, "and before that it used to be known for many years as Kelleher's Market and was [distinctly Irish]."

Forchione and DiSerio live in Diamond Heights and attribute their store's longevity to the steady clientele they've developed over the years. "Contractors and construction workers who come to the neighborhood on jobs somehow wound up coming here to get lunch," says DiSerio, "and after they moved on to jobs in other neighborhoods, they still come back here."

Andiamo's most popular lunches are the meatball sandwich, lasagna, and split-pea soup, he says.

Twenty years is a long time, but DiSerio and Forchione will not be throwing an anniversary party. Instead, they plan to celebrate the milestone by closing the deli for a week and going on a Caribbean cruise.

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RAMP 'N' ROLL: While spiffing up its new Noe Valley office last month for a grand opening on the corner of 24th and Sanchez, Hill & Company learned that its entranceway had caused a bit of a stir with Downtown Noe Valley shoppers and strollers. The real estate firm had made its front door handicapped-accessible by installing a curbed and railed ramp that sticks out about four feet into the sidewalk.

Hill's resident sales manager, Jamie Howell, acknowledges that the ramp has generated a few gripes, and says, "We are not happy with it either, but the city gave us no choice. We had proposed a less obtrusive ADA-compliant ramp but could not get city approval, so now we are looking for ways to improve the situation."

Howell says they are currently negotiating with San Francisco to get permission to change the ramp's design, maybe even remove the bulky curbs and railing so they don't block the path. They're also considering the addition of benches and plants.

Those of you who have been around the neighborhood for a while probably know that Howell has lived in Noe Valley for the past 40 years, most of them on Clipper Street. Before he got into real estate about 20 years ago, Howell spent 20 years as one of our local rock 'n' roll stars.

In that previous life, Howell played guitar for Tongue and Groove, Hot Tuna, the Buddy Guy Band, and Jimmy Witherspoon. He remembers when Janis Joplin used to live above the laundry on the corner of Noe and 22nd, and Big Brother and the Holding Company used to park their circa 1924 Ford truck on Castro near 22nd. The vehicle had "Overland Freak Express" emblazoned on the side.

Howell also remembers the days when the whole band could be seen waiting in line at Bud's Ice Cream on the corner of Castro and 24th, or if the line was too long, going across the street to Magnolia Thunderpussy's for one of her famous banana splits.

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