Thursday: Come All Ye Bernal, for the 2015 Holiday Stroll!


Many many moons ago, in the time of the Bernal ancestors, a festive tribe of elves and druids lived in the lands we now call Bernal Heights. Each year, in anticipation of the winter solstice, these proto-Bernalese would gather on the pathway we now call Cortland Avenue to celebrate the arrival of the rains and the season of lights.

Today, tens of thousands of years later, the Bernal Business Association continues this ancient tradition, in the beloved form of the Cortland Holiday Stroll. The 2015 Stroll happens this Thursday, December 10, from 6 to 9 pm, and here are all the tasty details:

The Bernal Business Alliance and merchants will usher in the sixth annual Holiday Stroll all along Cortland Avenue in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood. Businesses will stay open later than usual, from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, December 10, 2015. Each participant will have one-­night specials for unique holiday gifts, and sometimes, giveaways or musical guests for the evening. Admission is free.

As in prior strolls, the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center will be accepting cash donations and new, unwrapped toys suitable for ages 0-­10 years old for their annual holiday Toy Drive at their office on 515 Cortland Avenue. Many of the Holiday Stroll participants will also have silver buckets at the registers for monetary donations. (Checks should be made payable to “Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.” )Toys and donations will be accepted at the Center until December 15.

To date, about 30 brick­-and­-mortar and home­-based businesses will be participating, including:

  • Heartfelt, who will have grog, cookies made by owner Darcy Lee, music by one man band Brian Belknap and hidden gift certificates around the store
  • The Epicurean Trader, customers will receive free gift wrapping with purchase; in­store wine tasting and in­store discounts
  • Just in time for the season, Bernal Homeopathy will have for sale ready­to­go homeopathic remedy kits for trauma recovery plus cold & flu, for sale
  • Inclusions Gallery, celebrating its eighth year, will have live music and light refreshments to commemorate their anniversary
  • The Good Life Grocery will serve hot apple cider and other treats
  • Restaurants Vinorosso, Vega and Bernal Star will offer mulled wine
  • Anda’s Piroshki, of the 331 Marketplace on Cortland, will sample their Adjarian cheese bread
  • Bernal Library will be giving away free books on the deck facing Cortland
  • Lama’s Ken Po students will demonstrate karate and will off $30 off a two­month introductory special
  • Kingmond Young Photography will have snacks, drinks and a guest artist
  • The Lucky Horseshoe will have complimentary snacks and drink specials
  • Succulence will have snacks and drink as well
  • Pinhole Coffee will have vendors selling Cork Maps, Jewelry, Knitwear, Greeting Cards. The coffee bar will be open for coffee, peppermint hot chocolates, and Red Blossom Teas. 

Several other businesses will have one­-night only discounts to kick off your holiday shopping, including:

  • Bernal Beast
  • Arts of Balance, 20% off seasonal packages
  • The Cutting Edge Salon and Sandy Owens Massage and Healing will hold a raffle for a complimentary massage session or energy reading, as well as $15 off coupons for a future session or gift certificate for the holidays.
  •  fitBERNALfit
  •  Little Bee Baking

For more information about the event, visit


PHOTOS: Top, Holiday Strolls of Years Past, by Telstar Logistics

Today: Grand Opening Party for Neighbor Darcy’s “Heartfelt Ampersand” Boutique


It’s been a few weeks since Neighbor Darcy Lee of Heartfelt fame opened “Heartfelt Ampersand,” her new boutique a few doors up the street at 409 Cortland.

Now that she’s settled in, Neighbor Darcy is finally ready to have a proper opening party, and word on the street is you’re invited. She says:

We’re having an opening party!

Please stop by for a bit of bubbly, some tasty treats, and live tunes, Tuesday December 1st, from 4 to 8pm.

The infamous Brian Belknap will be playing, and there will be champagne and cookies from Dianda’s.

Bonus: Wear a frock or sundry from Ampersand and get a 25% discount on a new purchase. See you there!


PHOTO: Courtesy of Heartfelt &

Healthy Spirits Now Open on Cortland, with a Grand Opening Sale on Saturday



It’s finally open. After weeks of curiosity and voyeuristic speculation, the Healthy Spirits liquor store has opened at 249 Cortland, inside the former Chuck’s Grocery space.

The opening of a liquor store would not typically warrant much attention, but Healthy Spirits is not a typical boozemonger; The new Cortland branch is the third outpost in the Healthy Spirits family, which is regarded as one of the City’s more esteemed purveyors of whiskey and agave spirits.

Store manager Nate Breed brings Bernalwood the 411, and extends an invitation to a special grand opening sale on Saturday, Nov. 28:

We’ve now officially opened Healthy Spirits Cortland.

So we are absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Bernal Heights community, and we look forward to what we can add to the neighborhood. Our first shop was founded in 1998 in the Castro District, so we’ve had about 17 years to perfect and evolve who we are and what we do. Our main areas of expertise are beer, whiskey and agave (tequila and mezcal), but everything we carry is hand-selected and extremely quality-focused.

One of our most important goals is consumer education. We strive to have the most knowledgeable and dedicated staff that can make beer and spirits consumption into an immersive, informative and exciting experience. This notion over the years has helped us provide great customer service, but it also breeds an environment that’s accessible for both the novice and connoisseur alike.

Another chance for education lies in our Beer, Bourbon and Agave Clubs, that feature advanced monthly selections with detailed write-ups and interviews with the distillers and brewers themselves. The clubs come with an awful lot of perks, including discounts, first shot at limited releases and occasional free tickets to beer and spirit events. We also strongly believe in supporting local breweries and distilleries while seeking out the esoteric and saving a special place for the classics. It’s important for us to not only understand how something is made and what it tastes like, but also where it’s made and by who.

Anyway that’s Healthy Spirits in a nut shell. And we’d like to extend a special invitation to all your Bernalwood readers to attend our Grand Opening Celebration on Small Business Saturday November 28th at 11am.

We will be giving away free swag all day and having some unbelievable sales: 10 to 40% off everything in the shop. We’ll also be raffling off the right to buy extremely rare bottles of whiskey like Pappy Van Winkle, Buffalo Trace Antique, Four Rose Limited 2015 and St George Single Malt the first 5 hours, and putting other rare and vintage beer and whiskies on the shelf when the doors open. Come early, as the best deals and rarest selections tend to go fast.

Store hours are:

Monday-Thursday: 11am to 10pm
Friday-Saturday: 11am to 11pm
Sunday: 11am to 9pm

See you at the shop!


PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Sandwich-Making Robot in Andi’s Market Looks Like Terminator, Tastes Like Proust


Last week, a new worker joined the staff at Andi’s Market on Cortland Avenue: a fully automated, sandwich-making robot. Created by Bistrobot, the newfangled machine makes peanut butter sandwiches on fancy white bread with your choice of honey, blackberry jam, sweet chili, or chocolate sauce.


Bistrobot CTO Hamid Sani tells Bernalwood:

The machine at the Andi’s market is our first deployed automated sandwich maker. The machine is placed inside the store and the customer can place an order through a tablet kiosk, pay $2 (cash or credit), and watch our robot make them a custom sandwich. Simple as that.

Bistrobot is a startup that recently graduated from Y Combinator. We have a small but dedicated team with the goal of making robotic platforms that can make food, starting with sandwiches.

Neighbor Flo adds that some Bernal Heights DNA flows deep within the Bistrobot’s mechanized heart:

I live on Ellsworth St. My nephew, Steve Littell, is a chef and machinist from Chicago who came to SF with five engineer start-up buddies for the purpose of making this machine and others like it with more sophistication. My nephew now lives on Ellsworth St. too!

Locavore robots! Perhaps this was inevitable.

Neighbor Darcy filmed a video of the sandwichbot in action:

Yesterday, your Bernalwood editor visited Andi’s to conduct my own taste test of our robotic sandwich future. I ordered a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and when it emerged from the Bistrobot’s mechanical maw, it looked like this:


And the taste? Well, it tasted just like a sandwich mom would have made — if mom was a faceless automaton who looked like a mutant Lionel train set encased in a transparent plastic box. As a culinary experience, it was certainly worthy of any school lunchbox. As an entertainment experience, it was far more tasty than anything you’d get at the Musée Méchanique — and much closer to home too.

But don’t take my word for it. Stop by Andi’s Market, 820 Cortland (between Ellsworth and Gates) and command the Bistrobot to make you a sandwich.  Do it while you still can, because today, the sandwich robot works for you. Someday, however, you may work for it.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics. Video courtesy of Darcy Lee

Saturday: Bring Your Little Monsters to Cortland for Halloween

Bernalwood Halloween 004

For tens of thousands of years, the merchants of Cortland Avenue have opened their doors during the evening hours on October 31st and put out candy baskets for children, so that families in Bernal Heights can introduce their kids to the rituals of Halloween in locavore safety and style.

This year, that ancient tradition continues, and Neighbor Darcy from Heartfelt brings the details:

Bernal Heights Halloween festivities take place on Saturday, October 31st. The merchants on Cortland start giving out candy for the wee crowd at 4:30-5:00 p.m.

Please take note that Cortland is not closed off to vehicle traffic. Please talk to your trick or treaters and ask them to abide by some basic safety rules:

  1. Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established
    crosswalks wherever possible and please use the sidewalks
    do not walk in the street.
  2. Carry a flashlight and/or put reflective tape on your costume.
  3. Trick or treat with friends or adults.

Have a super time, it is a wonderful night in Bernal and we hope this is a grand one.

Darcy, aka the queen that night

Looking for some last-minute costume ideas? Check out these greatest-hits galleries of Bernal costumes from 2012 and 2013. But it may be tough to beat the incredible, interactive video costume Neighbor Dan Rosenfeld created:


ALSO, please share your photos of Bernal Halloween 2015 costumes with us during the weekend, so we can do a greatest hits costume roundup for this year too.  Send your costume photos to bernalwood *at* gmail dot-com.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Goldilocks and Two Bears, spotted on Cortland Avenue during Halloween 2013. Below, Big Head Dan. All photos by Adrian Mendoza. 

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY!!! It’s Fiesta on the Hill 2015!




Clear your dance cards, save the date, and start getting your kiddies fired up, because the epic Fiesta on the Hill happens this Sunday, October 25, on fabulous Cortland Avenue here in Bernal Heights.

Fiesta is the once-a-year occasion when Bernal’s very own Main Street USA shuts down to traffic so pedestrians can roam with impunity in an urban playland for fun-loving locavores. It’s a Bernalese bounty of tasty food, artisanal offerings, bumping beats, and plenty of games and attractions to divert the surplus energies of overstimulated children. And it’s all to benefit the esteemed Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

Organizer Genevieve Roja shared this preview of Sunday’s attractions:

This the biggest fundraising event of the year for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, which is both the host and beneficiary of Fiesta on the Hill, which is now in its 27th year.

This year we will be doing a drawing of some nifty gift certificates from brick-and-mortar-based and home-based Bernal businesses. We’ve got a pretty luxe knife set from Bernalian and local realtor Michael Minson; a $150 gift cert from ICHI; $50 value gift certs from Pinhole Coffee, Bernal Homeopathy, 12 Small Things and Cafe St. Jorge, and more.

There will be a lot of Bernal musicians playing on the Main Stage, and lots of them were born and raised in Bernal:

  • 10:00-11:15 a.m.: Trio Pizzicato (Bernal based) Stage: Main
  • 11:25-11:35 a.m.: BHNC Senior Chorus not confirmed yet .Stage: Main
  • 11:50-12:30 p.m. // HEADLINER #1: 35 Years of Trouble // TBD (bluegrass, kids) Stage: Main
  • 12:55-1:40 p.m. // HEADLINER #2: Soul Society (jazz funk, Bernal members) Stage: Main
  • 2-3:30 p.m. // HEADLINER #3 // Adelante (salsa). Bernal based members. Stage: Main

Finally, we’ve also added a smaller stage in front of BHNC this year. That’s where you can see:

  • The View from Bernal Hill
  • Lunch Money

Fiesta on the Hill poster

PHOTOS: Scenes from Fiestas past, by Telstar Logistics

Thursday: Celebrate Little Bee Baking’s Second Birthday


Corrected: Oopla. An earlier version of this post contained an incorrect date for the Little Bee festivities. The fun happens on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Here’s something sweet: Though it seems like just yesterday when Neighbor Stacie Pierce opened up the fabulous Little Bee Baking on Cortland, Bernalwood is reliably informed that the glamorous Little Bee grand opening actually happened two whole years ago. Also, because of that, we are reliably informed that festivities are in order.

Neighbor Stacie from Little Bee tells us:

It is with much joy and gratitude that I invite our friends and neighbors to celebrate Little Bee Baking’s turning 2! To say it’s hard to believe that two years has past already is an understatement, and I am truly humbled by all the support and love shown to us since we opened our doors.

I’m so happy to live and work in such an amazing community of people, and Little Bee looks forward to many more years on Cortland Avenue.

Stop by this Thursday 10/15 from 10am-6pm – mini cakes, brownies, tarts, ice cream cones and beverages will be just $2

Can’t wait to celebrate with you!

Stacie and the Little Bee family

Big Bernal congratulations and high-fives to Little Bee, and thanks for all the delicious.


IMAGE: Neighbor Stacie of Little Bee Baking