Proposed Pinball Center Mired in City Permit Purgatory

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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

Struggling Chloe’s Closet Plans Cutbacks at Cortland Store

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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.

 

Also Tonight: Harvest Dispensary Grand Opening Party on 29th

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Of note to those attending tonight’s hydro-fashionable Mission Bernal Holiday Walk — and particularly to those hydro-fashionistas who don’t mind going slightly off piste — a new business will be cerebrating a grand opening tonight on 29th Street in La Lengua , and they’ve extended a special invitation to drop by.

Harvest is a new dispensary at 33 29th St. (at Tiffany), and the team there just completed a thorough remodel while also repairing some of the water-damage caused by the big fire last summer.

Team Harvest tells Bernalwood:

Being a good neighbor is important to us. And we’re not just saying that. We believe it. And more importantly, we practice it. After taking occupancy at 33 29th St, the Bernal Heights fire damaged the building.

Since the incident, we’ve worked hard to restore the building, and minimize its impact on the community. Check out the transformation for yourself at our grand opening party on Thursday December 15th from 5-9pm!

We’ll have free food from our friends at The Front Porch, drinks and cannabis tastings in a friendly, inviting environment, plus our helpful staff will be on hand to answer questions about Northern California’s most premium Cannabis products.

Beginners’ welcome (but you still need a valid CA recommendation from a Dr. to enter).

Join us!

The Harvest Team

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Harvest

Tonight! Rock Your Raingear at the 2016 Mission Bernal Holiday Walk!

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Last year, a new tradition began here in the Dominion of Bernalwood, as each of our bountiful commercial districts began to play host to its own holiday celebration.

So now, in addition to the glamorous Cortland Holiday Stroll, the myriad merchants, chefs, and barkeeps along our ridiculously abundant, La Lengua stretch of Mission Street also hold a seasonal Mission Bernal Holiday Walk — and the 2016 edition happens TONIGHT, Thursday, December 15.

The Mission-Bernal Merchants Association says:

Mission Bernal Holiday Walk
Tonight – Thursday, December 15, 6-9pm

Join us tonight from 6 to 9pm for the Mission Bernal Holiday Walk. Yes, it will be rainy, but this is a good chance to rock your rain boots, and winter coat!

The Mission Bernal Merchants Association is excited to invite San Francisco to explore the vibrant Mission Bernal small business community. 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.

“We see the Mission Bernal Holiday Walk as a sort of social experiment in supporting the neighborhood’s small business community, and we want to invite everyone to be part of it,” says Eden Stein, president of the Mission Bernal Merchants Association. “The Mission Bernal corridor is a hidden gem of food, art, music, and culture.”

As visitors explore the neighborhood, the MBMA encourages them to post photos and videos of the sights, sounds, and tastes they experience on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with the hashtag #MBMAHW. As an extra incentive, throughout the evening, the MBMA will be monitoring the hashtag and giving away thank-you gifts to those tagging their adventures in Mission Bernal!

Here are some of the specials our neighborhood merchants will offer:

  • Avenue (3361 Mission St.) – Holiday open house with cocktails, a small holiday marketplace, succulent craft station, and live music
  • Baby Blues BBQ (3149 Mission St.) – Fried Chicken Pop-Up
  • Bel (3215 Mission St.) – Bel’s amazing Happy Hour will be extended for the duration of the walk and the San Francisco School of Rock will be singing holiday tunes from 6-7pm
  • Blanca’s Art of Hair – $5 off haircuts and shaves
  • Blue Plate (3218 Mission St.) – Deviled Eggs and a splash of sparkling rose for our early diners
  • Café Seventy8 (78 29th St.) – Extended hours and free 8oz hot chocolate or coffee
  • Café St. Jorge (3438 Mission St.) – Art Show
  • Coronitas (3326 Mission St.) – specials on Coronas and buffalo wings
  • Cole Hardware (3293 Mission St.) – Holiday Pop-Up!
  • Eagle Rider (3146 Mission St.) – Look for the motorcycle out front to learn more about our newest merchant and services
  • El Rio (3158 Mission St.) – Everyone that comes through as a participant in the Holiday Stroll will receive a free hot spiced whiskey cider (21+, one per customer)
  • Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack (3230 Mission St.) – Holiday Sangria and 2 for 1 drinks
  • The Front Porch (65 29th St.) – Delicious sausage balls, mulled wine, and spiced cider to keep you feeling nice (or naughty)
  • Fumi Curry (3303 Mission St.) – Black Curry special. Free Edamame for any order of drinks over $15
  • Harvest: An Alternative Health Collective (33 29th St.) – Harvest will be giving 15% off to all that mention this event. If you don’t yet have a recommendation, you can get a tour of their boutique facility
  • The Knockout (3223 Mission St.) – Drunk BINGO! Also, ask for a Hamm’s Job (a beer and a shot) for $5
  • Melody Cafe (3401 Mission St.) – 15% off dinner
  • Mitchell’s Ice Cream (688 San Jose) – Two cones for the price of one
  • Old Devil Moon (3472 Mission St.) – Lion’s Tail (a classic winter spicy bourbon cocktail), and a wintery gin & tonic of their own making
  • Rock Bar (80 29th St.) – Thirsty Thursday: Singani 63, the ancient Bolivian spirit imported by filmmaker Steven Soderbergh will be poured with specially paired bites. There will also be opportunities to speak with local Singani ambassador Scott Krinsky
  • Secession Art and Design (3235 Mission St.) – The 3300 Club will have t-shirts available for sale, Emmy’s will have their famous meatballs to nosh on, and the art of Hilary Williams and Nicole Bauguss will have art featuring neighborhood bars available for sale.
  • Virgil’s Sea Room (3152 Mission St.) – $5 Hot Toddys with Old Forester Bourbon available from 6-9pm

Pinkie’s Bakery on Cortland Shutting Down This Week

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Over the weekend, several Bernal neighbors contacted Bernalwood to share the sad news that Pinkie’s Bakery at 833 Cortland will shutter at the end of this week. The Cortland closure comes shortly after the September announcement that Pinkie’s was closing its original SoMa store. Pinkie’s on Cortland opened just a year ago, after taking over the former Sandbox Bakery space.

Neighbor Julie visited Pinkie’s on Cortland on Saturday, and she reported:

I don’t have many details. I went in this morning to see if they had English muffins, and the two young women behind the counter said they were sold out— and, by the way, this was the last week to buy them because Pinkie’s was shutting its doors on Friday.

I said, “You mean the SOMA location, right?” and they said “No, this one too. We just found out yesterday.”

Neighbor Joshua heard the same:

While at Pinkie’s this morning for my Saturday doughnut, I was told by the staff that they will be closing. Their last day will be on Friday.  […]  I think it’s unfortunate. They do a killer doughnut these days and my dogs go crazy for their home made dog treats.

Awww. Bernalwood reached out to Pinkie’s proprietor Cheryl Storms to see if the reports were true. Cheryl replied:

Yes it’s true. Our Folsom location and our sister restaurant Citizen’s Band shut down last month… Basically it is taking Pinkie’s on Cortland down with it. That’s pretty much all I can say about the details.

It’s pretty devastating; the Bernal bakery was what I always wanted, the quintessential cute neighborhood spot with great customers and neighbors. We were pretty busy and with our booming wholesale pastry and bread business, it was actually profitable. It’s a total bummer that our failure with the Folsom location is so deep that it is affecting the Bernal bakery so much that we can no longer stay in business. The hardest thing is letting go of the employees. Many of them have been with me for years and have always been loyal and like family to me. I hate letting them down.

Personally, I will be working part-time as a pastry chef consultant while I figure things out and spend more time with my baby daughter.

Bernal was really good to me and I will miss the neighborhood and the bakery and all of our regulars, (some inherited from Sandbox and some newbies) especially all my fellow moms who I liked to chat with when I was at the bakery counter. There is such a great family community in Bernal Heights and I feel lucky to have been invited into that community when I took over Sandbox. Everyone has been so supportive and amazing.

Friday is our last day of business. I hope the next tenant at 833 Cortland is awesome, and keeps the neighborhood well-fed and caffeinated.

PHOTO: Pinkie’s Bakery last weekend, by Neighbor Julie

City Moves to Halt Bernal Heights Firm Accused of Defrauding Immigrants

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For the last few months, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office has been pursuing an action agains Lacayo & Associates, a Bernal Heights company that provides tax and immigration consulting from it’s office at 3330 Mission Street (near Virginia), a few doors south of the Safeway.

The City accuses Lacayo & Associates of fraud, alleging that the company has misrepresented itself as a law firm.  Yesterday, the City Attorney’s Office announced it has obtained an injunction against Lacayo & Associates:

SAN FRANCISCO (Oct. 11, 2016) — A San Francisco Superior Court judge this morning granted City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s motion for a preliminary injunction ordering defendants Lacayo & Associates and its principles, Leonard Lacayo and Ada Lacayo, to immediately comply with the Immigration Consultant Act and stop unlawfully providing legal services.

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Judge Harold Kahn found that Herrera is likely to prevail on the causes of action in his suit filed in August against the defendants for misleading clients to falsely believe Mr. Lacayo was an attorney who could provide legal services in their immigration cases.

“I am grateful that the court recognized the urgency of Lacayo & Associate’s actions and ordered an immediate halt to their fraudulent operation,” said Herrera. “They preyed on the immigrant community by charging high fees for work they could not perform, even placing some of their clients at risk of deportation. Today’s court order is an important step towards bringing the Lacayos to justice and preventing other immigrants from becoming victims of their incompetent and illegal services.”

As part of the preliminary injunction, Lacayo & Associates must remove from their advertising any misleading statements about the “legal services” they provide, and give written notice to clients who received immigration related services within the past four years of the clients’ rights under California law and the fact that Leonard Lacayo is not a licensed attorney. Mr. Lacayo is also prohibited from providing any immigration-related services unless he registers with the CA secretary of state as an immigration consultant, passes a criminal background check, files a disclosure form, and posts a surety bond in the amount of $100,000.

Lacayo & Associates has been operating in San Francisco since 1986. Mr. Lacayo is a notary public but is not licensed to practice law nor registered with the state as an immigration consultant. Yet, he routinely defrauds clients by falsely representing himself as a lawyer and shoddily performing immigration-related services. Victims report that after charging thousands of dollars in fees, Mr. Lacayo would fail to ever submit their applications, or would submit applications that were denied due to inadequate preparation. In many cases it was only when clients sought assistance elsewhere that they realized that Mr. Lacayo was not an attorney and learned the true status of their cases.

If successful, the case could result in civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation and recover funds for consumers who were victimized by Lacayo & Associates’ unlawful, fraudulent, and unfair practices.

Services for victims
Victims of Lacayo & Associates who are looking for a licensed attorney to take over their case should contact the Bar Association of San Francisco’s Lawyer Referral and Information Service hotline at (415) 989-1616 and ask to speak with Antonio Hernandez.

Victims who would like to make a complaint about Leonard or Ada Lacayo or Lacayo & Associates or wish to assist the San Francisco City Attorney Office in prosecuting this legal action can contact the office’s hotline at (415) 355-3270.

The case is: People of the State of California v. Leonard Lacayo et al,San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC 15-553699, filed August 15, 2016. Complete documentation on the case is available online.

IMAGE: Lacayo Associates office at 3300 Mission Street, via Google Street View

Sunday: Grand Opening Party for New 12 Small Things Store on Cortland

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A new business is moving into the former Gifts on the Hill space at 513 Cortland. This Sunday, October 9, Bernal Neighbor Laurie Kanes will hold a grand opening celebration for 12 Small Things, her new store and showroom for artisanal crafts from around the world. Neighbor Laurie tells Bernalwood:

I’m the new tenant for the former thrift shop space at 513 Cortland that is next to the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

My husband and I moved to the neighborhood in 1989, and we’ve raised our two daughters here. After 30 years working in-house for corporate retailer’s creative departments, I started 12smallthings.com to showcase handmade products from artisans in need of support around the world.

Working out of my home, I expanded the business to include wholesale representation for these groups at gift trade shows for retailers. I was outgrowing my living room office and also needed a showroom when the BHNC space became available. They were looking for a small business they felt would work well in the neighborhood and had some non-profit or social responsibility connections.

I feel very grateful to be in this new space and part of the Cortland corridor, where I will be selling my products in the showroom/store. As a member of the community and the Bernal Business Alliance, I already have a strong connection to the neighborhood, but getting a chance to say hi to everyone while I’ve been renovating the place has been very welcoming and encouraging.

I am having an opening party this Sunday, October 9th, from 3:00 – 6:00 at 513 Cortland with music and light refreshments and would like to invite you and your readers to stop by and say hi.

Can’t promise that everything will be up and running smoothly right away, but hopefully I’ll have some time here to figure out the details along the way.

Many thanks!
Laurie

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