After 90 Years, Bank of America Will Close Cortland Branch

Cortland Avenue Bank of America, 1973. (Photo: San Francisco State University)

This story was written by Nathan Falstreau from Hoodline, in partnership with Bernalwood:

Customers of the Bank of America branch at 433 Cortland Ave. in Bernal Heights received a letter late last month stating that the branch will close in November. The notification comes a year and a half after the bank announced it would no longer staff human tellers.

The letter sent to Bank of America customers in Bernal Heights.

The closure is part of a recent trend as more customers look to their phones to do business—Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan moved to close many of its retail locations in an effort to lower costs by bringing more customers onto its online and mobile banking platforms.

The decision by the native San Francisco business—now based in Charlotte, NC—was the result of internal data indicating a shift in how customers interacted with their local branches.

Crowd outside the Bank of America on Cortland Avenue after a robbery in 1936. | Photo:: San Francisco Public Library)

Community banking is essential for small businesses, as well as for more marginalized members of the community like seniors or those whose primary spoken language isn’t English.

“This has a big impact on us as merchants, and that further extends to our customers that use the bank,” nearby Heartfelt owner (and Bernal neighbor) Darcy Lee told Bernalwood in 2015. “There are many senior citizens that use this as a resource in Bernal.”

While many consumers are content with mobile and online banking, it’s not so simple for shopkeepers. “All of us as merchants need money—actual coins and bills—sometimes multiple times in one day,” said Neighbor Darcy. “We also make large cash deposits.”

Bank of America at 433 Cortland Ave. as it looks today (Photo: Google)

Bank of America’s Cortland Avenue location opened in 1927 as the neighborhood was still rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake; the bank still owns the building.

The branch was also historically the only banking center on Cortland Avenue—even to this day—making the closure even more problematic for neighborhood residents. The nearest banking service is a Wells Fargo ATM at 601 Cortland Ave.

“I don’t usually get choked up about banks,” Neighbor Julie told Bernalwood. “But this one does feel like a piece of the neighborhood.”

The last day for banking at the Cortland Avenue branch is November 28th.

Thursday: Come to Cortland for the Seventh Annual Summer Solstice Stroll

It’s the longest day of the year, which of course can only mean it’s also time for the fabulous Summer Solstice Stroll, sponsored by the local merchants from the Bernal Business Alliance. It’s happening along Cortland Avenue  on Thursday evening, June 22 from 6-9 pm, and all the Proud Citizens of Bernalwood are invited.

Added bonus: This year our Cortlandia merchants are also raising funds to bring back the lapsed tradition of Fiesta on the Hill.

The Bernal Business Alliance shares the details:

Join us for the 7th annual Summer Solstice Stroll, this Thursday, June 22nd, from 6 to 9 pm, and enjoy a taste of Bernal!

Sample free beverages and treats along the Cortland Corridor as you stroll with your purchase of a commemorative glass mug and special Bernal Heights lapel pin, designed by local artist, Reuben Rude:


The mug and pin are $20, and all proceeds go to the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center to help bring back Fiesta on the Hill in October 2017!

Mugs can be purchased before or during the stroll at the following locations:

  • The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center
  • Bare Bottle Brewery
  • Good Life Grocery
  • The Epicurean Trader
  • Healthy Spirits

With each mug you’ll also receive a punch ticket with all the Bernal Business participants for you to visit. Check out the BBA website for a full listing.

So start your summer of love right and raise a glass to our wonderful Bernal Heights neighborhood! Find laughter, love and discoveries along the corridor that is Cortland.

With thanks from your local Bernal Business Alliance

PHOTO: 2017 Summer Solstice Stroll poster on display at Pinhole Coffee, by Telstar Logistics

Cortland’s “Flower Lady” Will Make You Mom-Proud for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this weekend!

Bernal Neighbor and sex-positive celebrity Annie Sprinkle would like to encourage all Bernalese to buy Mother’s Day flowers from Denhi Donis, the sidewalk flower vendor who’s often found on Cortland near the northeast corner of Wool.

Neighbor Annie tells Bernalwood:

Bernal has many wonderful mothers of all kinds. This Mother’s Day, I want to introduce Denhi Donis, the woman who sells her beautiful flower bouquets on Cortland and Wool street.

Denhi, raised her two children in Bernal as a single mother. Now that they’re in their 20s and grown up, they help their mom set up her pop-up flower shop, and are totally devoted to her.

Before becoming the flower lady, Denhi worked for many years as a social worker at many non-profit orgs. She worked in the Women’s Building for two years, at the Latina Breast Cancer Association for a year, Planned Parenthood for seven years, and many more. She has helped many mothers, and others, over the years, and has been a champion for Latina women in the area.

Denhi has survived some hard times. Before she came to San Francisco, Denhi lived in Chicago, where she left her man and lived in a domestic violence center for two years with her two kids. .

It was her son’s idea for Denhi to start sellng flowers five years ago. She was always buying flowers, making beautiful bouquets and giving them all away to people that needed a little pick-me-up.

Maya Donis, her daughter told me, “My mother has the biggest heart I’ve ever met. Everyone she encounters she adorns with flowers and her kindness. Her Light never seems to dwindle. She teaches me that there’s no limit to my love and compassion with the world around me. She is, in many ways, my biggest teacher.”

Emiliano Donis adds, “My mother is one of the strongest women I know. Throughout my whole life she has unequivocally been a pillar. The example she set in my life has shaped me into the man I am today. From her battles with being a single mother to her struggle with cancer, she never once gave up. I hope one day I too can be as trong a person as her and do for my kids what she did for me and my sister Maya.

I’m one of Denhi’s best customers. Denhi always sells us the most beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers. However it is her warmth and smile that are even more beautiful. I love to buy flowers from Denhi, and I know my money goes to a good place.

Happy Mother’s day to Denhi! And to all mothers in Bernal and beyond.

PHOTO: Denhi Donis on Cortland, courtesy of Beth Stephens

Black Jet Bakery Now Open for Business on Cortland

Gillian Shaw at her new Black Jet Bakery

There’s been a lot of excitement and anticipation about Gillian Shaw’s plan to open her celebrated Black Jet Baking Co. in the former Sandbox/Pinkie’s space at 833 Cortland, at the corner of Gates. Now the wait is over, because Black Jet is officially open for business.

As you may recall, Gillian Shaw is a former Bernal Heights resident who was also the baker the former Liberty Cafe. She tells Bernalwood:

We are in love with our space, our goodies and so delighted to be open!

We are so excited to be in the space and seeing all the friendly faces! As a wholesaler, we’re not used to seeing our customers in the flesh, and it has been such a treat! I love seeing all the Liberty faces and longtime Black Jet fans who remind us of pastries we have done in the past. Bernal is such a special place and I feel so lucky to have learned to bake on Cortland and have a bakery on this street!

I am planning for a GRAND OPENING PARTY on Saturday APRIL 29th, which also happens to be my birthday! We were thinking of having a happy hour party with cupcakes and snacks to celebrate! Would love to welcome people to stop by! I am thinking festivities to begin at 5 and go til 7.

For your info, we carry the following Liberty Items:

  • Blueberry Corn Muffins
  • Raspberry Bran Muffins
  • Banana Cream Pie
  • (Chicken Pot Pie to come sooooon)
  • Liberty Scones

MY FAVORITE ITEMS that are exclusive to the shop:

  • Danish!
  • Boston Cream Croissant is a croissant filled with pastry cream and topped with ganache. This beauty is named after my sister Jen, who is the mastermind.
  • Croissants! We are using the SANDBOX recipe under the kind guidance of Mutsumi who is the best landlord ever. We adore her and are so proud to be using the Sandbox recipe.
  • Mascot/Somerville: our signature beverage is the SOMERVILLE which is a shot of espresso, steamed milk and dollop of housemade toasted FLUFF. Fluff, my obsession was created in SOMERVILLE, MA where I used to live. We developed the’ MASCOT’ after Audrey Duane, our amazing mascot who doesn’t care for espresso… and has a hot chocolate with fluff instead.

Other Points:

We have the best staff ever and I am so proud of each and every one of them! It is a stressful and crazy time opening a bakery, but everyone has been so determined and excited and hardworking to create our little shop.

I am also over the moon to let people know that Max B. Newman, who worked with me at the Liberty, is BACK in the Black Jet fold after working at Zuni & Marla. We are so lucky to have him back in Bernal.

I am a happy happy tired baker and are so grateful to everyone!

Hope to see everyone in the shop soon, especially you!

The Bernalwood Culinary Expedition Team had the opportunity to visit Black Jet last weekend.  We ate many things during our foray, including a meyer lemon and havarti danish, a ham, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich, and a morning bun. We  can confirm that everything we tried was insanely delicious. Yum!

PHOTOS: All photos by Telstar Logistics

Skillshot Pinball Quits 1000 Cortland, Begins Search for Other Spaces Nearby

Life Lesson: When the Great Pinball Machine of Life sends your ball sliding down a side gutter, that doesn’t mean Game Over. Instead, you take a deep breath, load a new ball into the plunger, and play again.

Thats the lesson Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth seem to have drawn from their effort to open Skillshot Pinball at 1000 Cortland Avenue, in the former Cutting Edge Salon space. After all the fuss, fear, and befouling bureaucracy, Neighbors Christian and Elizabeth have decided to seek a more friction-free location on Cortland for Skillshot Pinball — and perhaps one with a kitchen attached too.

Skillshot’s latest newsletter says:

We recently came to a somber decision. We’ve decided to no longer pursue 1000 Cortland (formerly Cutting Edge Salon) as a location for the pinball. You’re probably aware of the protestations of some of the tenants of the building and their pledge to challenge all the permits we would need to acquire along the way in building out the space and opening. We did meet with them and tried our hardest to explain our vision and reassure them of the steps we would take to mitigate any impact on their tenancy. Throughout that process we also discovered that to bring the space up to code because of how large it is we would have to make some costly renovations (egress doors would have to swing outward and therefore be inset in the structure; fire abatement also installed). The cost of installing the plumbing for the beer and kitchen sinks would be also be quite high while not allowing for much flexibility in food options since we wouldn’t have a hood. When you add up the amount of time it would have taken to get through the protests and renovate we were looking at a 1.5 year timeline. In addition, the city’s alcohol advisory panel signaled it would probably recommend not issuing our permit, even though we hadn’t yet presented our case to them. Sadly, renovation costs and the rising probability of losing the beer permit felt like too big of a financial gamble for the little pinhall we had envisioned.

The good news is that we are not letting the dream go and will march on with the goal of opening this pinhall in Bernal Heights and on Cortland Ave. We’ve also resolved to have a bit more of a food program to generate more attraction, and based on feedback from the community we will aim for a beer and wine license instead of just beer. We’ve just begun negotiations to buy-out a restaurant, though out of respect for the owner’s privacy will not name that restaurant. But a restaurant would allow us to do fuller meals which is very exciting.

PHOTO:: Side gutter of a 1964 Williams “San Francisco” pinball machine, by Telstar Logistics

Eye of the Avocado Re-Pops Inside Little Bee Baking

eyeofavodado

As you may recall, waaaaaaaay back in January Bernlwood wrote about Chef Jes Taber and the Eye of the Avocado pop-up breakfast and lunch sandwich place she opened on Cortland Avenue inside the former Sandbox/Pinkie’s Bakery space.

As you may also recall, Eye of the Avocado attracted substantial love and affection, thanks to Chef Jes’s cult-favorite  “Roy G. Biv Sandi” egg sandwich, which Bernalwood readers have described as “a slice of heaven” and “by far the best [breakfast sandwich] I’ve ever had.”

Whoa. With bona fides like that, we’re pleased to report that Chef Jes has now relocated her pop-up just up the street, inside the fabulous Little Bee Baking shop at 521 Cortland, right across from the library.

She tells Bernalwood:

Eye Of The Avocado, is a Pop Up Cafe at 521 Cortland @ Little Bee Bakery. We’re excited to continue to be part of the beloved Bernal Heights community. We offer one of the best dang egg sandwiches you will ever eat, the “Roy G. Biv Sandi”. (It’s name is the acronym for the rainbow, after it’s colorful ingredients.)

We are open Fri – Sun 8am-ish – Sell Out or 2pm. We are proud to be working within Little Bee Bakery. Little Bee offers amazing fresh fruit tarts, fresh ginger cake that will make your heart soar, gluten free brownies, & four barrel coffee to boot.

We hope to see you soon!

PHOTO: The famous Roy G. Biv Sandi + Bacon, courtesy of Eye of the Avocado

Sunday: Celebrate a First Anniversary for Heartfelt &

heartfelt2

If you don’t plan to spend your Sunday marching. protesting, or drowning your politcal sorrows in the bottom of a bottle of strong liquor, Neighbor Darcy invites you to come share some cheer as she celebrates the first anniversary of her offshoot Heartfelt & store at 409 Cortland (at Bennington).

Darcy tells Bernalwood:

We’re having a party for our wee store on Sunday, January 22, starting at 5 pm.

A belated 1st birthday!

Two women will be reading their poems, and we will serve sherry, cookies, and some bubbly.

There will be a special offer for an hour before the event starts.

One of the women is my friend, and she was part of the WW2 Kindertransport.

In any case I am going to start using the Heartfelt & space for these events to let folks from the neighborhood share their creativity, especially writers.

heartfelt1year

PHOTO: Courtesy of Heartfelt &