Hillside Supper Club Shares Straight Talk on Restaurant Business

Hillside Supper Club chefs and Bernal neighbors Tony Ferrari (left) and Jonathon Sutton.

Bernal Neighbor Tony Ferrari is chef and co-owner of the Hillside Supper Club restaurant at 300 Precita, in the southwest corner of Precita Park. Yesterday he sent a note to Bernalwood that’s both a candid perspective on the challenge of operating a restaurant in San Francisco right now and a neighborly invitation to stop by for a bite.

Chef Tony writes:

To: Our community, neighbors, and friends,

We want to be open and honest with you all, and always one hundred percent transparent. The last five years has been nothing but a great experience, creating relationships, nourishing our community, giving back if and when possible and the best thing of all: Cooking fair, honest, clean food with a purpose for all of you. Every year learning more, giving opportunity, adapting to change and suggestions, and doing our very best every day.

This year, however, things have felt a bit different. We’ve noticed a huge decrease in business, rising costs and living expenses, and the neighborhood becoming more transient for better or for worse. We feel we have tried everything we can with menu changes, pricing, marketing avenues, delivery apps, and community involvement, and we’re still left with too many seats empty at our tables and so much effort put into welcoming you.

The reality of it is, if things stay this way we are looking at a matter of weeks until we have to close and sell our gathering place, give ourselves a pat on the back for how far we come, and end this chapter in our lives. In hopes our legacy will continue and the next establishment embrace the community and do it better then we. The entire Hillside team would humbly like to ask all of you who are able to come share a meal with us to come in for a visit sooner then later. The staff, food, and space are incomplete without your enjoyment.

Some attractions:

  • We’re doing a Sunday Supper 40 bucks for a 3 course meal (That’s about 13 bucks a plate. Killer deal)
  • Mondays are no corkage (BYOB beer or wine for free).
  • Fridays and Saturdays after 10pm all appetizers and glasses of wine are 10 bucks.

It’s an interesting time for the restaurant industry, as things are changing ever-so rapidly. Not to mention trying to stay afloat on sixteen bucks an hour in our amazing city.

We know we are not alone in this struggle, and hope we can all come together to figure out a common solution that benefits everyone. Money comes and money goes, but it’ll always be there for the people that work hard for it. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.

We hope to see you all soon. Thanks.

Your Neighborhood Restaurant

Neighborhood Businesses Invited to Join Bernal Business Alliance

A vintage sign for the Cortland Avenue Merchants Association c. 1940s. (Photo: Neighbor Darcy)

Neighbor Darcy Lee from the fabulous Heartfelt store on Cortland reached out to extend an invitation to other merchants and businessfolk around Bernal Heights to get involved with the Bernal Business Alliance. Neighbor Darcy writes:

When I first became a merchant on the Cortland corridor, I belonged to the Cortland Merchants Association.

We held long drawn out meetings at various locations along Cortland. I attended when I could, and I always hovered over thinking this could be better but not really having any solutions.

Over the years I have seen so many different versions of our group with many different folks entering the fray. There has been drama, personal battles, accomplishments and some wonderful strolls. I love our current incarnation.

Now called the Bernal Business Alliance, four of us (Lynn, Arno, Laurie and I) run the organization as a team. We’re friends, and all of us are deeply committed to our community. I encourage you to join if you run a business in Bernal.

If you’re already a member please pay your dues for 2018!  We have an updated vintage style map in the works that will be printed this year and your dues pay for this.

Harvest Dispensary Begins Legal, Recreational Cannabis Sales in Bernal Heights

Customers wait to enter the Harvest dispensary on 29th Street in Bernal Heights on Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend, Harvest off Mission at 33 29th Street became the first dispensary to offer legal, recreational cannabis sales in Bernal Heights.

It took Harvest off Mission a few days to line up their permits, so recreational sales didn’t get underway until last Saturday, Jan. 13. Anyone over 21 years and older can now enter the store with a government-issued ID.

The legal sale of recreational marijuana began in California on Jan 1. The first dispensaries permitted to sell recreational marijuana opened in San Francisco a few days later, on Jan.  6, owing to a delay by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  California voters approved Prop 64, which legalized recreational marijuana sales, in 2016.

The dispensary on 29th Street is not new, of course. Harvest, the current occupants of the storefront, have been offering medial cannabis at that location since December 2016. Before that, the space was used by another  dispensary  called Bernal Heights Collective.

First-time customers at Harvest may feel the most remarkable thing about it is how rather unremarkable it seems. The interior of the store is airy and modern, with curated selection of cannabis edibles and flower products arranged neatly on the shelves. (The menu is available online too.)

At a glance, it looks like the kind of shop that might sell fancy desserts,  or fresh-pressed juices, or artisanal coffee. But here, in 2018 San Francisco, it’s the first store permitted to sell legal, recreational marijuana in Bernal Heights.

Here’s a fact sheet Harvest shared with Bernalwood:

TONIGHT: Eat, Drink, Be Merry During the Mission-Bernal Merchants Holiday Walk

As you know, included among our many blessings here in the Dominion of Bernalwood are two terrific commercial districts; each of which now plays host to its own holiday celebration.

TONIGHT, Friday, Dec. 8 from 6-9 pm, the fabulous merchants, chefs, and barkeeps along the La Lengua stretch of Mission Street will hold the glamorous 2017 Mission Bernal Holiday Walk.

Neighbor Eden from Secession Art & Design tells us:

The Mission Bernal Merchants Association is excited to invite San Francisco to explore the vibrant Mission Bernal small business community on Friday December 8th, from 6pm to 9pm.

The numerous locally owned restaurants, bars, galleries, coffee shops, and other businesses that line Mission Street from Cesar Chavez Street to Randall Street—along with businesses on adjacent side streets such as 29th Street—will open their doors and put out their welcome mats to the city at large, in a neighborhood celebration aimed at encouraging neighbors and visitors alike to peruse their wares, get to know local business owners, and sample the neighborhood’s diverse flavors.

Emerging and legacy businesses alike would like to welcome you to our festive home.Our neighborhood is buzzing with love, light, and festivities. Some highlights from Cesar Chavez to Randell include:

  • Selfie on a motorcycle and art show Eagle Rider 3146 Mission
  • Toy drive and mulled wine at El Rio 3158 Mission
  • $2 off Local brews & live music: Panique gypsy jazz at Old Bus Tavern 3193 Mission. Rachel’s Fig And Honey Saison may become your new favorite
  • Hot apple brandy & live music. Wayne De La Cruz and Ray Scott at
    Royal Cuckoo 3202 Mission
  • Deviled Eggs and sparkly wine at Blue Plate 3218 Mission
  • Art fundraiser & holiday party at Secession Art & Design 3235 Mission
  • The owner is spinnin’ records playing 70’s, 80’s & 90’s Perfect bar for a beer and a shot at Knockout 3223 Mission
  • Arroz Con Leche at Sabor De San Miguel 3263 Mission
  • 2 for 1 ice-cream cones at Mitchell’s Ice Cream 688 San Jose Ave Try the eggnog, peppermint candy, cinnamon snap, or ginger spice to get you holiday happy.
  • Hot apple cider and cookies in front of our store. All non medicated, of course! 😉 Harvest 33 29th St
  • Mini hot chocolates and cookies at Cafe Seventy8 78 29th St
  • Special menu this Friday night during the Mission Bernal Holiday walk featuring Caldo Verde soup w/sweet bread rolls and Portuguese ports, beers and wines and more! Cafe St. Jorge 3438 Mission
  • Spiced Toddy at Old Devil Moon 3472 Mission

PHOTO: Top, by Telstar Logistics

Thursday: Come All Ye Bernal for the 2017 Holiday Stroll

Holiday Stroll

stroll.singers

Tens of thousands of years ago, in the time of our Bernal ancestors, a joyous community of elves lived on Bernal Hill. Each year, during the early days of the winter season, these proto-Bernalese would gather on the land we now call Cortlandia to celebrate the arrival of the season of lights.

Today, the Bernal Business Alliance carries on this ancient ritual, in the form of the glamorous Cortland Holiday Stroll. The 2017 Holiday Stroll happens this Thursday, Dec. 7, from 6 to 9 pm, and Bernalese of all ages are invited to partake of the festivities.

Neighbor Laurie from BBA tells Bernalwood:

Come one, come all, to the 8th annual Bernal Heights Holiday Stroll, this Thursday, December 7th from 6:00 – 9:00 along Cortland Avenue!

Stores will be open to help you with your local holiday shopping, and they’ll be offering treats and libations along the way. There will also be live music and caroling to add to the festivities.

The Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center at 513 Cortland, will be taking photos with Santa and strollers of all ages, for a recommended donation of $5.00. They are also collecting new, unwrapped toys for their annual toy drive until December 15th, so buy a little extra to give back this season.

Happy holidays, and see you there!

Check out the BBA website for more detail on participating merchants and their extra-special Stroll festivities.

Cash Drawers Stolen During Early Morning Break-In at Healthy Spirits

Security camera footage shows the intruder entering Healthy Spirits at 5:30 am.

It’s tough to be a merchant in San Francisco — as Heathy Spirits discovered yet again today.

In the early morning hours today, thieves broke in to the Healty Spirits store at 249 Cortland to steal the cash register.

This is the second time this has happened to Healthy Spirits; a similar incident took place in July 2016.

Rami from Healthy Spirits tells Bernalwood:

This morning approximately at 5:30 I received a call from police notifying me of a break in at my business located at 249 Cortland Ave.

The video footage shows that one of the thieves opened the front door using a crowbar and the second thief enters and proceeds to yank the cash register and runs away with two cash drawers. The cash drawers had a small amount of money but the robbery leaves me with a broken front door and a very expensive POS system to replace.
This same scenario almost exactly happened back in July 2016 where the thieves were only interested in the cash register as well.

It is days like today that I choose to count my blessings and I spend my time thinking about how lucky I am to be a part of this wonderful Bernal family. I shall restore whatever was damaged as soon as possible and I can’t wait to be back serving our clients and our Bernalese family at large.

Here are additional security-camera photos of the intruder inside Healthy Spirits this morning:


Anyone with further information about this incident is encouraged to contact SFPD Ingleside Station at (415) 404-4000.

Precita Park Pizzeria Plan Comes to an End

3214 Folsom, on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (Photo by Telstar Logistics)

Alas, it’s not happening.

Back in 2015, Bernal Neighbor Eliza Laffin announced plans to open a pizza shop called Red Apron Pizza at the corner of Folsom and Bessie, at the western end of Precita Park.

She knew that opening the shop would be tough. Still, it had been a lifelong dream to open her own pizzeria, so Neighbor Eliza was determined to renovate the space at 3214 Folsom and navigate San Francisco’s labyrinthine permitting process. To symbolize all that, she papered the windows of the storefront with handmade graphics that said, “It Will Happen.”

Yet it wasn’t to be. The renovation effort soon bogged down in negotiations with the property owner about who was responsible for various structural improvements, water damage abatement, and sewage system repairs, with the result that work on Red Apron Pizza was suspended for more than a year.

The “It Will Happen” signs have now been taken down from the windows of 3214 Folsom, and over the weekend Neighbor Eliza shared this update with the Bernal community:

On September 18, 2017, I made a very difficult decision to terminate the lease for Red Apron Pizzeria at 3214 Folsom Street.

We were headed for trial a week prior, but the judge directed us to a mandatory settlement conference. We spent two days in the settlement conference negotiating before agreeing to the terms of our arrangement.

I agonized over this decision.

My heart was set on what was the perfect place for my pizzeria. The bad news is I’ve lost that spot, and it means starting all over again. The good news is that we avoided going to trial.

The even better good news is that the relationship between the landlords and me is over. They did not comprehend what turned out to be myriad hidden issues with their building, which has three residential units in addition to the storefront. […]

My restaurant – while currently a figment of my imagination – remains the same, as Red Apron Pizzeria.

In the meantime, I had a major foot surgery two weeks ago. After recovering from that, I hope to find a leasable restaurant space in my ‘hood.

The sign in the front window is gone. I feel like I let my neighborhood down.. I’m sorry. But please continue to hope. You never know when opportunity comes knocking on the door.

With mixed feelings and perpetual pizza dreams,

Eliza