Proposed Pinball Center Mired in City Permit Purgatory


Last November, many Bernal neighbors were thrilled to hear about Bernal Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth’s plan to open Skillshot Pinball at 1000 Cortland Avenue, on the corner of Folsom. However,  it seems some nearby neighbors were decidedly less-thrilled about the plan, and now Skillshot Pinball’s grand opening faces significant delays as the proposal grinds its way through San Francisco’s bureaucratic maw.

In a newsletter, Neighbors Christian and Elisabeth write:

This is our first letter and we were hoping it might be more exciting, but it’s mostly about bureaucracy and the fact that we may not be opening as soon as we’d originally suggested.

The space we’re seeking to occupy was not previously an eatery or drinkery so though it’s allowed by zoning, we have to apply for a change of use. This isn’t that big of a deal, except for anyone who’s not crazy about having an eatery or drinkery in the neighborhood, these applications allow them opportunities to protest the changes. And that’s what’s happening. We’ve had such a wonderful outpouring of support from Bernal neighbors and families, but all complaints, rightly so, must be properly heard out. Most of the issues surround concerns about noise and the effect on the neighborhood, but some concern mixing sales of beer with proximity to children. On our website we’ve got a list of those concerns and our approaches to how we deal with those issues. And we’ve met with some of the complainants, but we’ve been unsuccessful at changing their minds. They say they love the concept, they think it’s right for Bernal, and they like us, but they don’t want it right next to them. Ahem.

So we’ve had, or are expecting to have, protests against our Change of Use with the Planning dept, our alcohol application with the ABC and separately with the ALU, and the Board of Supervisors approval of our alcohol application. Add that all up and it could be quite a while before we’re able to open. We’re trying to push things along, but it’s probably more like a year now, or even longer. The protests don’t usually keep you from getting the permit, they just significantly slow things down and put conditions on operations (like hours) so you guys don’t have too much to worry about. We’re still totally dedicated to opening up here on The Hill!

PHOTO:: Williams San Francisco pinball machine (1964) at the Pacific Pinball Museum, by Telstar Logistics

Pop-Up “Eye of the Avocado” Serving Breakfast & Lunch at 833 Cortland


Someday soon, Black Jet Baking Company will hang its sign above the former Pinkie’s/Sandbox space. But in the meantime, Chef Jes Taber has opened up a pop-up eatery at 833 Cortland called Eye of the Avocado that’s serving gorgeous breakfast and lunch sandwiches right now.

Chef Jes says:

Eye Of The Avocado, is a Pop Up Cafe at 833 Cortland @ Gates, the old Pinkies Bakery. We are excited to part of the beloved Bernal Heights community. We offer one of the best dang egg sandwiches you will ever have, the “Roy G. Biv Sandi”. Plus we have: coffee, lattes, tea, scones, chocolate chip cookies, and etcetera. We are strictly locally sourced & organic. Check out the Pay It Forward program & inquire for details. Can’t wait to meet you!

Eye of the Avocado is already crushing it on Yelp, and the cafe is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 8 am to 2 pm, with plans to remain at 833 Cortland until the end of the month.

(Also, If you have tips about potential permanent locations around greater Bernal, Chef Jes would love to hear them.)

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

Struggling Chloe’s Closet Plans Cutbacks at Cortland Store


Chloe’s Closet, the consignment store at 451 Cortland specializing in clothes for kids and expectant moms, has been a cherished resource for budget-conscious Bernal parents for more than a decade. Yet recently the business has been struggling, and today Chloe’s Closet announced a series of changes intended to keep the Cortland store afloat.

In an email to customers, Chloe’s writes:

It is no secret that San Francisco has a rapidly declining population of the people Chloe’s Closet really depends on: middle class and working class families. Many of those families just can’t afford to live here any longer and it shows in our sales. The last three years have seen decreasing revenue at both our San Francisco locations, especially in Bernal Heights. While sales have dropped steadily, costs have risen – rent, insurance, taxes and payroll go up and up. We are just barely hanging on.

At this time we are considering our options. We have 18 months left on our lease in Bernal Heights and the next few months will determine whether we can turn things around in Bernal. If we can’t make it work, then unfortunately we will need to find a tenant and close that location down. (We will continue in the Inner Sunset as well as in Berkeley)

In order to hang on in the meantime, we have no other option but to decrease our overhead. To this end, we will be reducing our employee hours at all three locations, and doing a partial shutdown of the “Toy” side at our Bernal Heights location. We are having a sale on our remaining Women’s and Maternity clothing, then we will close that section down. This will allow us to have one fewer person on the payroll per day.

We are also considering going to limited drop off days/hours and/or closing one day per week at all of our locations.

In addition, Chloe’s Closet will implement changes to its consignment policy in order to reduce the quantity of unsellable items dropped off at the store.


New Preschool Opening on Cortland Today


There’s a new preschool opening at 610 Cortland today (right next to the Wells Fargo banking robot), and it’s called Little Angels Nursery School. Neighbor Jen’s child has been attending Little Angels at another location, and she bring the 411 on the new Cortland facility:

Little Angels nursery/preschool will be opening their 610 Cortland Avenue location on January 3rd, 2017. School founder Rabab and many of the students’ families are very excited!

Little Angels will accept children aged 18 months to 6 years, and has a sister school in Sunnyside for infants. The Bernal location has two main play rooms including an invitingly cozy reading nook by the Cortland-facing windows, a new play kitchen, and enough blocks, train tracks, and Magna-tiles for everyone.

In the back, there’s a good-sized yard with a redwood playhouse and a large sandbox, all shaded by a generous avocado tree. My personal favorite thing about the school is the full kitchen: Rabab and the other teachers do fun baking projects and make tasty, healthy, homemade lunches for the children. (They got my picky kid to happily eat vegetables and soup! I can’t express how amazing that is to me.)

Bernalese grow-ups can expect to see the kids at the local library, playground, and around the neighborhood. There was an open house at Little Angels before the holiday break, and it had a ton of walk-in traffic, so I expect the school will fill up quickly — if it’s not full already. This is a great neighborhood for kids. If anyone wants to ask Rabab questions or apply, the school’s site is here.

PHOTO: The Little Angels on Cortland, courtesy of Neighbor Jen

Black Jet Baking to Open in 833 Cortland Bakery Space

Team Black Jet Baking, with Gillian Shaw at center

Team Black Jet Baking, with Gillian Shaw, center

It was a sad day when Pinkie’s Bakery announced plans to shutter in October, but now the cycle of rebirth and re-use is set to take another turn. Last weekend, rockstar baker and former Bernal neighbor Gillian Shaw launched a crowdfunding campaign to relocate her Black Jet Baking Co. to the former Sandbox/Pinkie’s space at 833 Cortland.

Justin Phillips from Inside Scoop brings the backstory:

Black Jet owner Gillian Shaw sees potential on the block, so much so that she recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to drum up support (and $75,000) for the move. Black Jet’s loyal customer base has responded in droves, donating almost $11,000 within the first 36 hours.

“People have been so sweet. They’re donating and writing notes,” Shaw said. “Everyone seems to be excited. This year, we’ve just been lucky to grow and grow.”

After opening in 2010 as a niche shop delivering cookies and pops mainly to San Francisco office workers, Black Jet is known more now for its nostalgic takes on classic treats like layered chocolate cakes, banana cream pies, and oatmeal cookies. (Shaw’s”Lil Jennys” were featured in this Sunday’s Chronicle, with a recipe.)

Shaw said this year, the business had its most profitable November since opening six years ago. Black Jet sold more than 900 pies around Thanksgiving – no small feat for three bakers working out of a commercial kitchen space.

Neighbor emeritus Gillian Shaw has a lot of fans here in Bernal, not just because she used to live here, but also because she was the baker at the former Liberty Cafe , back in the days when the Liberty Cafe was known for its amazing baked goods. So congrats to her, and hooray for us.

If you’d like to join Black Jet Baking Co. crowdsourcing fund, you can contribute here.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Black Jet Baking

Tonight: Winter Celebration and Homegrown Jazz at the Bernal Library


The elves who run your Bernal Heights Public Library are a lively and gregarious bunch, especially during this time of year.  Tonight Bernal’s library is hosting a seasonal festival that celebrates homegrown jazz, community, and tasty food. Library elf-wrangler Valerie Reichert tells us:

Our Annual Winter Celebration at the library happens on Wednesday eve, December 14.

Please join us! Grab your family, friends, neighbors and come to our annual celebration. The evening features the mellifluous Bernal Jazz Quartet playing seasonal selections, holiday crafting, movies and lots and lots of cookies!

Information: (415) 355-5610
For all ages!

Thursday: Elves and Bernal Neighbors Invited to the 2016 Cortland Holiday Stroll

Holiday Stroll

Tens of thousands of hundreds of many years ago, in the time of our mystical ancestors, a joyous community of elves lived on these Bernal Hill lands. Each year, during the winter equinox, these proto-Bernalese would gather in the meadow we now call Cortlandia to celebrate the arrival of the rains and the season of lights.

Today, the Bernal Business Alliance carries on this hallowed tradition, in the form of the glamorous Cortland Holiday Stroll. The 2016 Stroll happens this Thursday, December 8, from 6 to 9 pm, and all Modern Bernalese are invited partake of the many spectacles.

The shamans from the BBA tell Bernalwood:

7th Annual Bernal Heights Holiday Stroll, Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Join your neighborhood in supporting small businesses for Bernal Height’s 7th Annual Holiday Stroll, this Thursday night, December 8, from 6:00 – 9:00 pm on fabulous Cortland Avenue.

Your favorite local stores are extending their hours for family fun and holiday shopping. Many shops are offering discounts, music, tasty treats and beverages to make your evening even sweeter.

Come support your community and don’t forget to donate a new, unwrapped toy or monetary contribution to our Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center Toy Drive at 515 Cortland Avenue.

Thanks everyone, see you Thursday, rain or snow, from your friends at the Bernal Business Alliance.

12 Small Things, 513 Cortland – In addition to supporting fair trade artisans, we will be collecting spare change for UNICEF and donating 10% of our sales to victims of the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland.

Arts of Balance, 406 Cortland – Come on in for chai tea!

Bernal Beast, 509 Cortland – Toys and treats will be 20% off and will be serving Chocolate Cake!

Bernal Homeopathy, 406 Cortland – Limited number of homeopathic cold & flu remedy kits for sale $40

East West Bernal, 406 Cortland – We will be serving chai and offering 15 percent off gift cards.

Epicurean Trader, 401 Cortland – We will be having a free Wine Tasting from 6-8pm.

Good Life Grocery, 448 Cortland – We will have hot apple cider and several samplings inside the store from various suppliers. And just out that day, we will have our 2017 calendars to give out with the wonderful pictures of Bernal Heights and Potrero Hill from local photographers.

Healthy Spirits, 249 Cortland – We will be sampling our famous house-made hummus, hosting a wine tasting and have lots of fun freebies!

Heartfelt &, 409 Cortland – Brian Belknap the Cajun One Man Band will be playing refreshments will be served!

Inclusions Gallery, 627 Cortland – Celebrating our 9th year with our annual Retrospective show, featuring the work of 14 local artists. Live music with jazz duo Gary Zellerbach & Carl Herder and lots of holiday cheer!

Little Bee Baking, 521 Cortland – Surprise!

Paulie’s Pickling, 331 Cortland – Surprise!

Pinhole Coffee, 231 Cortland – There will be Japanese Curry by Chef Michael Black, Jewelry by Oakland Based jeweler Holly Bobisuthi and crocheted goods by Pacifica based artist Samantha Baron. Our coffee bar will be open and we will be sampling peppermint hot chocolate! Also Mitsuko Siegrist of Tsuchikara Pottery will be selling her wares (she is the ceramicist behind all our cups and plates).

Recycled Glassworks, 231 Cortland, I’m also going to be at Pinhole for the stroll

Sandy Owens Massage & Healing, Gift certificates, discounts and other surprises!

State Farm Insurance, 399 Cortland – Serving hot apple cider and holiday cookies

Succulence, 402 Cortland – 15% discount on all store inventory, plus snacks and beverages, with music by JD Limelight.