Fire-Damaged Cole Hardware and Playa Azul Demolished

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It wasn’t with a bang, but with a whimper.

Yesterday, the Mission Street buildings that once housed Cole Hardware and Playa Azul — structures that were hollowed-out by the devastating fire last June — were finally demolished.

Neighbor Valerie took the blue-sky photo above later in the day, when work was wrapping up. Yet earlier in the morning, Neighbor William shared these photos taken just as the demolition was getting underway:

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colehardwaredemo3It’s a sad (if inevitable) spectacle, and the void that’s left behind is a glaring symbol of the sadness many Bernalese feel at the loss of two esteemed neighborhood institutions.

PHOTOS: Top, Neighbor Valerie. Below, Neighbor William

Federal Loans Offered for Merchants Recovering from Mission Street Fire

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There’s some encouraging news for merchants working to rebuild their businesses after last June’s devastating Cole Hardware fire — and the customers who  miss them.

In addition to the $10,000 grant each business has already received from the City, the federal government’s Small Business Administration is also offering low-interest disaster-relief loans to help shuttered businesses reopen.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez from the San Francisco Examiner reports:

The U.S. Small Business Administration on Wednesday declared the five-alarm fire June 28 at Mission and 29th streets, which displaced at least seven businesses and 40 residents and families, a “disaster” in response to a request from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The declaration, also urged by the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, is a special status allowing the Small Business Administration to make federal assistance available.

That assistance comes in the form of disaster loans, allowing the businesses affected by the blaze up to $2 million to replace or repair damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery, equipment or other business assets.

The Mayor’s Office is coordinating with Keane’s 3300 Club, El Gran Taco Loco, Playa Azul Seafood, Coronitas, the Front Porch, and Harvest Shop to access available funds.

The families and individuals displaced from a nearby apartment building and the Graywood Hotel, a single-room occupancy hotel, will be able to take out $40,000 loans for damaged or destroyed personal property.

Though these are loans and not grants, “certainly any additional capital they have access to will give them ability to get going again sooner,” said Bijan Karimi, assistant deputy director of the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management.

PHOTO: Former site of Cole Hardware, July 16, 2016, photographed by Neighbor Valerie

Saturday: Benefit Sale at Secession for Fire-Damaged Mission Street Merchants

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This Saturday, July 30, your glamorous Neighbor Eden Stein from Secession Art & Design on Mission Street is hosting a benefit party for merchants impacted by last month’s devastating Cole Hardware Fire.

Neighbor Eden says:

Please join us on Saturday, July 30th, 4-8pm for a neighbor and merchant mixer/fundraiser/Cole Hardware pickup party at Secession Art & Design, 3235 Mission Street.

The 3300 Club will be here selling their limited edition t-shirts, Cole Hardware will be pouring their Cutting Edge wine, Fire Pie has donated pizza and lots of neighbors will be stopping by to show some community love & support. Thanks to everyone who ordered online from Cole Hardware to pick up at the party!

The Mission Bernal Merchant Association and Bernal Business Alliance are excited to host the party and come together to raise funds for the June 18th Fire Merchant Relief Fundraiser. You can donate to the fund in person, or online. Thank you, however you choose to support.

We look forward to seeing you at the party!

PHOTO: 3300 block of Mission Street after the fire. Photo by Jonathan Koshi via MBMASF

Tuesday: Celebrate 17 Years of Heartfelt with Neighbor Darcy

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Some things change, some things stay the same, and some things stay the same because they change a lot. The fabulous Heartfelt store on Cortland has been able to stick around for a long time because its proprietor, Neighbor Darcy Lee, is obsessively focused on making sure her “contemporary five-and-dime” store always feels fresh and new.

This week, Neighbor Darcy is celebrating 17 years of Hearffelt, with an in-store party on Tuesday, July 26:

I recently looked up to see when I bought the store, and discovered it was 1999. I was a retail newbie at that time, and I jumped in with both feet.

We would like to thank the neighborhood that made 17 years possible on Tuesday, July 26th from 6-8 pm. We hope to party like its 1999, and thus are asking folks to wear purple in honor of my favorite rock star of all time. First 50 folks that wear purple get a door prize.

We’l have cookies champagne, and Mariachi Jalisco will be playing!

Congratulations, Darcy!

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PHOTO: Darcy Lee during a rainstorm, 2015, by Telstar Logistics. Poster, artwork by Reuben Rude

Thieves Smash Healthy Spirits Door to Steal Cash Register

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Grrrrrrrr. Rami from Healthy Spirits tells Bernalwood:

Healthy Spirits located at 249 Cortland Ave  was broken into at 5:30 AM this morning. Two robbers broke the glass on the front door and entered the shop. They stole the cash register with the small sum of money and proceeded to exit. Thankfully the damage was only financial and no one was hurt in anyway.

PHOTO: Smashed door, via Healthy Spirits

Cole Hardware Hopes to Return to Mission Street

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At this point, it happens almost daily: I’m doing the Life Thing, trying to keep everything working, and inevitably there’s some small item required. Like a replacement key. Or a picture hangar. Or a rubber grommet thingy that goes between this thingy and that thingy. And inevitably I have a habitual thought: “Oh, I’ll just go get that at Cole Hardware.”

Except, that’s not possible anymore.* Sigh.*

In the wake of the June 18 Cole Hardware Fire,  a great many Bernalese have wondered if our neighborhood hardware store will one day return to our fabulous stretch of Mission Street. Last week, our friends at Hoodline interviewed Cole Hardware owner Rick Karp to learn more about the history of the business and the future of Cole Hardware in La Lengua:

On June 18th, the night of the fire, Karp gathered with his Mission store employees in the Safeway parking lot to discuss finding them new jobs. “We wanted to make sure that everyone continued to work, and we emailed them that night to tell them where they would be working the next day.” Sure enough, the next day, all employees had jobs. With help from his son, Dave, and daughter, Adrianna, who both help run the business, Karp was able to quickly divvy the staff up to the other four other locations. “Everyone is now working and they seem to be very appreciative with their new digs,” he said. “They’re all disappointed that they are not working together anymore. That’s a tough thing for the staff to be broken up. They were a cohesive group, but everyone from the other stores has welcomed them with open arms.”

“We are lucky that nobody got hurt [in the Mission fire],” said Karp. “We try to look at the good side.” Karp is actively looking for another site to relocate the Mission Street store. He told us that he really wants to stay connected to the neighborhood and get back in as soon as possible, because the loss of the hardware store impacts people’s lives daily.

“We want to continue to keep serving our customers there and stay connected. In fact, the burnt-out building is coming down this week. This is San Francisco, so we will be lucky if it’s built in a year. It could be a couple years [to get the building back up to speed].”

Karp is seeking a new location in Mission/Bernal/Noe Valley area, but hasn’t yet found a suitable space. He is also looking citywide to open another store, and is currently considering a spot in North Beach and another in SoMa. “We are open to any opportunity, as well. When the Mission building is ultimately rebuilt, whether that is two years or three years from now, whatever it is, we would like to move back into our Mission Street location. We don’t want to abandon that neighborhood, by any means. In fact, we are working with some Bernal folks to do a pop-up store here and there.”

Cole Hardware has been around since 1961. It all began when founder David Karp purchased the business on Cole. In 1984, he and his son, Rick, expanded the business to the Mission.

There’s a lot more to the story of Cole Hardware and Rick Karp, so read the whole thing.

PHOTO: Former site of Cole Hardware, July 16, 2016, photographed by Neighbor Valerie

Thursday: Celebrate Summer at the Cortland Solstice Stroll

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The legend is handed down among Bernalese from generation to generation: Tens of thousands of years ago, in the time of the sages and ancients, a race of wizened elves gathered in the area we now call Cortland Avenue for a gala celebration of the summer season. There was celebration. There was food. There was plenty of drink and glad cheer. And it was good.

Today, the Bernal Business Alliance has revived this hallowed ritual for the modern age, and the 2016 Summer Stroll happens this Thursday, June 23, from 6 – 9 pm on historic Cortland Avenue.

Here are the deets:

The Bernal Business Alliance and merchants will celebrate the solstice at the sixth annual Summer 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, June 23, 2016.Each participant will feature one­night specials, including giveaways, musical guests, treats and food & drink for the evening. Admission is free.

Here are some of the brick­and­mortar and home­based businesses who will be participating:

  • Heartfelt will have Cajun music, cookies and a specially crafted drink! Heartfelt & will be open with a special “sale”!
  • Little Bee Baking are hosting Good Eggs the “online farmers market” out front withinformation about their great service and local artist RaissaTrend will be showing newartwork inside the store.
  • Pinhole Coffee have a far eastern theme for the evening, with Japanese Curry by Chef Michael Black, former Chef and owner of Sebo, and ceramics for sale by Mitsuko Siegrist of the Tsuchikara Pottery.
  • Succulence are hosting an art opening for Cat Johnston whose amazing art will be hanging in the window for the month. They will also have music and wine and cookies.
  • Healthy Spirits will host a small band playing Middle Eastern inspired music as well as
    making some rare beers and whiskeys available from their cellar.
  • Members from the Bernal Business Alliance will be in front of Heartfelt with membership information and helping our neighbors at the Mission Bernal Merchants Association collect donations for the victims of the recent Mission Street fire.
  • Bernal Beast will have doggy treats and chocolate cake for any human companions!
  • Red Hill Station will have Oysters, Oysters and yes, more Oysters!!!
  • Lauren Becker of Recycled Glassworks will be showcasing her new work in slumped, recycled glass.
  • Epicurean Trader will have Bernal local winemaker Bryan Harrington for a free Wine Tasting event.
  • Inclusions Gallery will host an art opening with San Francisco painter Jeffery Roth. There will also be 15% off all handmade jewelry as well as music & refreshments.

Both the Bernal Branch Library and the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center will also be joining us for the evening.

The Library Staff will be out front of the Library giving away books and small prizes and signing people up for the summer reading program. And across the street, the Neighborhood Center will have plenty of information about their current projects and you’ll be able to sign­up as a member on the spot.

And when you are done with the strolling you can stop by The Lucky Horseshoe for some smooth jazz with Larry Epstein from 8­11pm.

For more information about the Bernal Business Alliance, visit http://bernalbusiness.org.

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PHOTO: Modern Bernalese elves strolling during the 2014 solstice, by Telstar Logistics