Archive | Dining

Castro’s Slurp Soft Opening Tonight

 
 
 

After announcing a change in formats back in September, Slurp Noodle Bar (469 Castro St.) will have a soft opening tonight. Formerly Fork Cafe, the new concept will serve pan-Asian noodles. General Manager Keith Hak told us that they “wanted to do something completely different from what used to be served at Fork Cafe.” They want to open a restaurant where you could get noodles from a variety of different regions. Slurp will serve Ramen, Pho and Laksa (Malaysian), just to name a few. Aside from noodles Slurp will also serve crispy vegetarian egg rolls, pork belly steamed  buns, salads and items from the wok.

Keith took some photos of the food today and posted them on Facebook. It all looks really fresh and delicious. So let’s hope this new concept works out. Stop by tonight if  you’re looking for something different to eat.

 
 
Slurp Noodle Bar
469 Castro St.
Sun-Thurs 11am-10pm
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
 
From the Castro Bubble

 

Continue Reading

Gluten Free Crepes Contest Winner at Squat and Gobble

Jessann Cohn, a trained chef who works as a caterer, has just moved the Gluten Free bar a bit further.   The Haight resident is the winner in the Squat and Gobble gluten free crepe contest and won $300 and a years worth of monthly meals.  Cohn currently works as a caterer with one of the larger SF catering companies.

20131125_152509

“”Crepe’ and ‘Gluten Free’ are rarely heard in the same sentence” according to Squat and Gobble managing partner Issa Sweidan.   “Because we specialize in crepes, we wanted to include an alternative for people with gluten issues.  So we conducted this contest to get some new ideas to make sure all of our customers can enjoy our family-friendly menu.”

Cohn’s winning recipe replaces traditional flour with chickpea flour among its chief ingredients.   Beginning this month a version of her crepe will appear on the menu at all five Squat and Gobble locations.

At the same time, all locations will offer gluten-free pasta, as well.

Squat and Gobble has served the Upper Haight, Lower Haight, Marina, Castro and West Portal since 1994.  Www.squatandgobble.com.

 

 

 

Continue Reading

How did toast become the latest artisanal food craze? Ask a trivial question, get a profound, heartbreaking answer.

All the guy was doing was slicing inch-thick pieces of bread, putting them in a toaster, and spreading stuff on them. But what made me stare—blinking to attention in the middle of a workday morning as I waited in line at an unfamiliar café—was the way he did it. He had the solemn intensity of a Ping-Pong player who keeps his game very close to the table: knees slightly bent, wrist flicking the butter knife back and forth, eyes suggesting a kind of flow state.

The coffee shop, called the Red Door, was a spare little operation tucked into the corner of a chic industrial-style art gallery and event space (clients include Facebook, Microsoft, Evernote, Google) in downtown San Francisco. There were just three employees working behind the counter: one making coffee, one taking orders, and the soulful guy making toast. In front of him, laid out in a neat row, were a few long Pullman loaves—the boxy Wonder Bread shape, like a train car, but recognizably handmade and freshly baked. And on the brief menu, toast was a standalone item—at $3 per slice.

It took me just a few seconds to digest what this meant: that toast, like the cupcake and the dill pickle before it, had been elevated to the artisanal plane. So I ordered some. It was pretty good. It tasted just like toast, but better.

A couple of weeks later I was at a place called Acre Coffee in Petaluma, a smallish town about an hour north of San Francisco on Highway 101. Half of the shop’s food menu fell under the heading “Toast Bar.” Not long after that I was with my wife and daughter on Divisadero Street in San Francisco, and we went to The Mill, a big light-filled cafe and bakery with exposed rafters and polished concrete floors, like a rustic Apple Store. There, between the two iPads that served as cash registers, was a small chalkboard that listed the day’s toast menu. Everywhere the offerings were more or less the same: thick slices of good bread, square-shaped, topped with things like small-batch almond butter or apricot marmalade or sea salt.

Back at the Red Door one day, I asked the manager what was going on. Why all the toast? “Tip of the hipster spear,” he said.

I had two reactions to this: First, of course, I rolled my eyes. How silly; how twee; how perfectly San Francisco, this toast. And second, despite myself, I felt a little thrill of discovery. How many weeks would it be, I wondered, before artisanal toast made it to Brooklyn, or Chicago, or Los Angeles? How long before an article appears in Slate telling people all across America that they’re making toast all wrong? How long before the backlash sets in?

For whatever reason, I felt compelled to go looking for the origins of the fancy toast trend. How does such a thing get started? What determines how far it goes? I wanted to know. Maybe I thought it would help me understand the rise of all the seemingly trivial, evanescent things that start in San Francisco and then go supernova across the country—the kinds of products I am usually late to discover and slow to figure out. I’m not sure what kind of answer I expected to turn up. Certainly nothing too impressive or emotionally affecting. But what I found was more surprising and sublime than I could have possibly imagined.

IF THE DISCOVERY OF artisanal toast had made me roll my eyes, it soon made other people in San Francisco downright indignant. I spent the early part of my search following the footsteps of a very low-stakes mob. “$4 Toast: Why the Tech Industry Is Ruining San Francisco” ran the headline of an August article on a local technology news site called VentureBeat.

“Flaunting your wealth has been elevated to new lows,” wrote the author, Jolie O’Dell. “We don’t go to the opera; we overspend on the simplest facets of life.” For a few weeks $4 toast became a rallying cry in the city’s media—an instant parable and parody of the shallow, expensive new San Francisco—inspiring thousands of shares on Facebook, several follow-up articles, and a petition to the mayor’s office demanding relief from the city’s high costs of living.

The butt of all this criticism appeared to be The Mill, the rustic-modern place on Divisadero Street. The Mill was also, I learned, the bakery that supplies the Red Door with its bread. So I assumed I had found the cradle of the toast phenomenon.

I was wrong. When I called Josey Baker, the—yes—baker behind The Mill’s toast, he was a little mystified by the dustup over his product while also a bit taken aback at how popular it had become. “On a busy Saturday or Sunday we’ll make 350 to 400 pieces of toast,” he told me. “It’s ridiculous, isn’t it?”

But Baker assured me that he was not the Chuck Berry of fancy toast. He was its Elvis: he had merely caught the trend on its upswing. The place I was looking for, he and others told me, was a coffee shop in the city’s Outer Sunset neighborhood—a little spot called Trouble.

THE TROUBLE COFFEE & Coconut Club (its full name) is a tiny storefront next door to a Spanish-immersion preschool, about three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in one of the city’s windiest, foggiest, farthest-flung areas. As places of business go, I would call Trouble impressively odd.

Instead of a standard café patio, Trouble’s outdoor seating area is dominated by a substantial section of a tree trunk, stripped of its bark, lying on its side. Around the perimeter are benches and steps and railings made of salvaged wood, but no tables and chairs. On my first visit on a chilly September afternoon, people were lounging on the trunk drinking their coffee and eating slices of toast, looking like lions draped over tree limbs in the Serengeti.

The shop itself is about the size of a single-car garage, with an L-shaped bar made of heavily varnished driftwood. One wall is decorated with a mishmash of artifacts—a walkie-talkie collection, a mannequin torso, some hand tools. A set of old speakers in the back blares a steady stream of punk and noise rock. And a glass refrigerator case beneath the cash register prominently displays a bunch of coconuts and grapefruit. Next to the cash register is a single steel toaster. Trouble’s specialty is a thick slice of locally made white toast, generously covered with butter, cinnamon, and sugar: a variation on the cinnamon toast that everyone’s mom, including mine, seemed to make when I was a kid in the 1980s. It is, for that nostalgic association, the first toast in San Francisco that really made sense to me.

Trouble’s owner, and the apparent originator of San Francisco’s toast craze, is a slight, blue-eyed, 34-year-old woman with freckles tattooed on her cheeks named Giulietta Carrelli. She has a good toast story: She grew up in a rough neighborhood of Cleveland in the ’80s and ’90s in a big immigrant family, her father a tailor from Italy, her mother an ex-nun. The family didn’t eat much standard American food. But cinnamon toast, made in a pinch, was the exception. “We never had pie,” Carrelli says. “Our American comfort food was cinnamon toast.”

The other main players on Trouble’s menu are coffee, young Thai coconuts served with a straw and a spoon for digging out the meat, and shots of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice called “Yoko.” It’s a strange lineup, but each item has specific meaning to Carrelli. Toast, she says, represents comfort. Coffee represents speed and communication. And coconuts represent survival—because it’s possible, Carrelli says, to survive on coconuts provided you also have a source of vitamin C. Hence the Yoko. (Carrelli tested this theory by living mainly on coconuts and grapefruit juice for three years, “unless someone took me out to dinner.”)

The menu also features a go-for-broke option called “Build Your Own Damn House,” which consists of a coffee, a coconut, and a piece of cinnamon toast. Hanging in the door is a manifesto that covers a green chalkboard. “We are local people with useful skills in tangible situations,” it says, among other things. “Drink a cup of Trouble. Eat a coconut. And learn to build your own damn house. We will help. We are building a network.”

If Trouble’s toast itself made instant sense to me, it was less clear how a willfully obscure coffee shop with barely any indoor seating in a cold, inconvenient neighborhood could have been such a successful launch pad for a food trend. In some ways, the shop seemed to make itself downright difficult to like: It serves no decaf, no non-fat milk, no large drinks, and no espressos to go. On Yelp, several reviewers report having been scolded by baristas for trying to take pictures inside the shop with their phones. (“I better not see that up on Instagram!” one reportedly shouted.)

Nevertheless, most people really seem to love Trouble. On my second visit to the shop, there was a steady line of customers out the door. After receiving their orders, they clustered outside to drink their coffees and eat their toast. With no tables and chairs to allow them to pair off, they looked more like neighbors at a block party than customers at a café. And perhaps most remarkably for San Francisco, none of them had their phones out.

Trouble has been so successful, in fact, that Carrelli recently opened a second, even tinier location in the city’s Bayview neighborhood. I met her there one sunny afternoon. She warned me that she probably wouldn’t have much time to talk. But we chatted for nearly three hours.

In public, Carrelli wears a remarkably consistent uniform: a crop top with ripped black jeans and brown leather lace-up boots, with her blond hair wrapped in Jack Sparrowish scarves and headbands. At her waist is a huge silver screaming-eagle belt buckle, and her torso is covered with tattoos of hand tools and designs taken from 18th-century wallpaper patterns. Animated and lucid—her blue eyes bright above a pair of strikingly ruddy cheeks—Carrelli interrupted our long conversation periodically to banter with pretty much every person who visited the shop.

At first, Carrelli explained Trouble as a kind of sociological experiment in engineering spontaneous communication between strangers. She even conducted field research, she says, before opening the shop. “I did a study in New York and San Francisco, standing on the street holding a sandwich, saying hello to people. No one would talk to me. But if I stayed at that same street corner and I was holding a coconut? People would engage,” she said. “I wrote down exactly how many people talked to me.”

The smallness of her cafés is another device to stoke interaction, on the theory that it’s simply hard to avoid talking to people standing nine inches away from you. And cinnamon toast is a kind of all-purpose mollifier: something Carrelli offers her customers whenever Trouble is abrasive, or loud, or crowded, or refuses to give them what they want. “No one can be mad at toast,” she said.

Carrelli’s explanations made a delightfully weird, fleeting kind of sense as I heard them. But then she told me something that made Trouble snap into focus. More than a café, the shop is a carpentered-together, ingenious mechanism—a specialized tool—designed to keep Carrelli tethered to herself.

 

toast-2

 

EVER SINCE SHE WAS in high school, Carrelli says, she has had something called schizoaffective disorder, a condition that combines symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolarity. People who have it are susceptible to both psychotic episodes and bouts of either mania or depression.

Carrelli tends toward the vivid, manic end of the mood spectrum, she says, but the onset of a psychotic episode can shut her down with little warning for hours, days, or, in the worst instances, months. Even on good days, she struggles to maintain a sense of self; for years her main means of achieving this was to write furiously in notebooks, trying to get the essentials down on paper. When an episode comes on, she describes the experience as a kind of death: Sometimes she gets stuck hallucinating, hearing voices, unable to move or see clearly; other times she has wandered the city aimlessly. “Sometimes I don’t recognize myself,” she says. “I get so much disorganized brain activity, I would get lost for 12 hours.”

Carrelli’s early years with her illness were, she says, a blind struggle. Undiagnosed, she worked her way through college—three different colleges, in different corners of the country—by booking shows for underground bands and doing stints at record stores and coffee shops. But her episodes were a kind of time bomb that occasionally leveled any structure in her life. Roommates always ended up kicking her out. Landlords evicted her. Relationships fell apart. Employers either fired her or quietly stopped scheduling her for shifts. After a while, she began anticipating the pattern and taking steps to pre-empt the inevitable. “I moved when people started catching on,” she says. By the time she hit 30, she had lived in nine different cities.

Like a lot of people with mental illness, Carrelli self-medicated with drugs, in her case opiates, and alcohol. And sometimes things got very bad indeed. Throughout her 20s, she was in and out of hospitals and periods of homelessness.

One day in 1999, when Carrelli was living in San Francisco and going to school at the University of California-Berkeley, she took a long walk through the city and ended up on China Beach, a small cove west of the Golden Gate. She describes the scene to me in stark detail: The sun was flickering in and out of intermittent fog. A group of Russian men in Speedos were stepping out of the frigid ocean. And an elderly man was sitting in a deck chair, sunbathing in weather that suggested anything but. Carrelli struck up a conversation with the man, whose name was Glen. In a German accent, he told her that people congregated regularly at China Beach to swim in the ocean. He had done so himself when he was younger, he said, but now he just came to the beach to sunbathe every day.

Carrelli left San Francisco shortly thereafter. (“Everything fell apart,” she says.) But her encounter with the old man made such a profound impression that five years later, in 2004—after burning through stints in South Carolina, Georgia, and New York—she drove back across the country and headed for China Beach. When she arrived, she found Glen sitting in the same spot where she had left him in 1999. That day, as they parted ways, he said, “See you tomorrow.” For the next three years, he said the same words to her pretty much every day. “He became this structure,” Carrelli says, “a constant.”

It was perhaps the safe distance between them—an elderly man and a young woman sitting on a public beach—that made Glen relatively impervious to the detonations that had wiped out every other home she’d ever had. “He couldn’t kick me out,” Carrelli says. She sat with her notebooks, and Glen asked her questions about her experiments with strangers and coconuts. Gradually, she began to find other constants. She started joining the swimmers every day, plunging into the Pacific with no wetsuit, even in winter. Her drinking began to taper off. She landed a job at a coffee shop called Farley’s that she managed to keep for three years. And she began assiduously cultivating a network of friends she could count on for help when she was in trouble—a word she uses frequently to refer to her psychotic episodes—while being careful not to overtax any individual’s generosity.

Carrelli also found safety in simply being well-known—in attracting as many acquaintances as possible. That’s why, she tells me, she had always worked in coffee shops. When she is feeling well, Carrelli is a swashbuckling presence, charismatic and disarmingly curious about people. “She will always make a friend wherever she is,” says Noelle Olivo, a San Francisco escrow and title agent who was a regular customer at Farley’s and later gave Carrelli a place to stay for a couple of months. “People are taken aback by her, but she reaches out.”

This gregariousness was in part a survival mechanism, as were her tattoos and her daily uniform of headscarves, torn jeans, and crop tops. The trick was to be identifiable: The more people who recognized her, the more she stood a chance of being able to recognize herself.

But Carrelli’s grip on stability was still fragile. Between apartments and evictions, she slept in her truck, in parks, at China Beach, on friends’ couches. Then one day in 2006, Carrelli’s boss at Farley’s Coffee discovered her sleeping in the shop, and he told her it was probably time she opened up her own space. “He almost gave me permission to do something I knew I should do,” she recalls. It was clear by then that Carrelli couldn’t really work for anyone else—Farley’s had been unusually forgiving. But she didn’t know how to chart a course forward. At China Beach, she took to her notebooks, filling them with grandiose manifestoes about living with guts and honor and commitment—about, she wrote, building her own damn house.

“Giulietta, you don’t have enough money to eat tonight,” Glen said, bringing her down to Earth. Then he asked her a question that has since appeared in her writing again and again: “What is your useful skill in a tangible situation?”

The answer was easy: she was good at making coffee and good with people. So Glen told her it was time she opened a checking account. He told her to go to city hall and ask if they had information on starting a small business. And she followed his instructions.

With $1,000 borrowed from friends, Carrelli opened Trouble in 2007 in a smelly, cramped, former dog grooming business, on a bleak commercial stretch. She renovated the space pretty much entirely with found materials, and with labor and advice that was bartered for, cajoled, and requested from her community of acquaintances.

She called the shop Trouble, she says, in honor of all the people who helped her when she was in trouble. She called her drip coffee “guts” and her espresso “honor.” She put coconuts on the menu because of the years she had spent relying on them for easy sustenance, and because they truly did help her strike up conversations with strangers. She put toast on the menu because it reminded her of home: “I had lived so long with no comfort,” she says. And she put “Build Your Own Damn House” on the menu because she felt, with Trouble, that she had finally done so.

GLEN—WHOSE FULL NAME was Gunther Neustadt, and who had escaped Germany as a young Jewish boy with his twin sister during World War II—lived to see Trouble open. But he died later that year. In 2008, Carrelli became pregnant and had twins, and she named one of them after her friend from China Beach.

That same year, after having lived in her shop for months, Carrelli got a real apartment. She went completely clean and sober, and has stayed that way. She started to hire staff she could rely on; she worked out a sustainable custody arrangement with her children’s father. And Trouble started to get written up in the press. Customers began to flock there from all over town for toast and coffee and coconuts.

The demands of running the shop, caring for two children, and swimming every day allowed Carrelli to feel increasingly grounded, but her psychotic episodes hardly went away; when they came on, she just kept working somehow. “I have no idea how I ran Trouble,” she says. “I kept piling through.” In 2012, after a five-month episode, Carrelli was hospitalized and, for the first time, given the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Under her current treatment regimen, episodes come far less frequently. But still they come.

At bottom, Carrelli says, Trouble is a tool for keeping her alive. “I’m trying to stay connected to the self,” she says. Like one of her old notebooks, the shop has become an externalized set of reference points, an index of Carrelli’s identity. It is her greatest source of dependable routine and her most powerful means of expanding her network of friends and acquaintances, which extends now to the shop’s entire clientele. These days, during a walking episode, Carrelli says, a hello from a casual acquaintance in some unfamiliar part of the city might make the difference between whether she makes it home that night or not. “I’m wearing the same outfit every day,” she says. “I take the same routes every day. I own Trouble Coffee so that people recognize my face—so they can help me.”

After having struggled as an employee in so many coffee shops, she now employs 14 people. In an almost unheard of practice for the café business, she offers them profit-sharing and dental coverage. And she plans on expanding the business even further, maybe opening up to four or five locations. With the proceeds, she hopes to one day open a halfway house for people who have psychotic episodes—a safe place where they can go when they are in trouble.

WHEN I TOLD FRIENDS  back East about the craze for fancy toast that was sweeping across the Bay Area, they laughed and laughed. (How silly; how twee; how San Francisco.) But my bet is that artisanal toast is going national. I’ve already heard reports of sightings in the West Village.

If the spread of toast is a social contagion, then Carrelli was its perfect vector. Most of us dedicate the bulk of our attention to a handful of relationships: with a significant other, children, parents, a few close friends. Social scientists call these “strong ties.” But Carrelli can’t rely on such a small set of intimates. Strong ties have a history of failing her, of buckling under the weight of her illness. So she has adapted by forming as many relationships—as many weak ties—as she possibly can. And webs of weak ties are what allow ideas to spread.

In a city whose economy is increasingly built on digital social networks—but where simple eye contact is at a premium—Giulietta Carrelli’s latticework of small connections is old-fashioned and analog. It is built not for self-presentation, but for self-preservation. And the spread of toast is only one of the things that has arisen from it.

A few weeks ago, I went back to Trouble because I hadn’t yet built my own damn house. When my coconut came, the next guy at the bar shot me a sideways glance. Sitting there with a slice of toast and a large tropical fruit, I felt momentarily self-conscious. Then the guy said to the barista, “Hey, can I get a coconut too?” and the two of us struck up a conversation.


This post originally appeared in the January/February 2014 issue ofPacific Standard as “A Toast Story” by John Gravous.

Continue Reading

Drakes Bay Oyster Co: Judge Slams Majority Opinion, Calls it a “Hand Waving” decision

INVERNESS, CALIF. — Owners of the Drakes Bay Oyster Company today said they strongly disagree with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision to eject the historic oyster farm, and that attorneys for Drakes Bay are now reviewing all options before announcing the farm’s plans moving forward.

The Ninth Circuit’s three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 today against the oyster operation, with Justice Paul J. Watford writing a dissenting opinion in support of the oyster farm. In the dissent, Watford wrote that Drakes Bay should have prevailed on its claim that Secretary Salazar’s decision was, “arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Watford also stated that the majority opinion consisted of “hand waving” containing “nothing of any substance”, and that the injunction should have been granted (see pg. 47 from the Ninth Circuit decision).

The well-loved oyster farm asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to prohibit the Federal Government from ejecting Drakes Bay from its property, destroying its business and taking away the jobs of its 30 employees before the case was even fully litigated.

“As community farmers and environmentalists, we continue to hold firmly in our belief that we have taken the appropriate measures to protect and preserve the waters of Drakes Estero and the wildlife that calls the National Seashore home,” said Kevin Lunny, owner of Drakes Bay.

For years, Drakes Bay has been fighting against false science and unsupported accusations from the Interior Department and the National Park Service in their attempts to close down the farm.  In a decision made last November, then-Interior Secretary Ken Salazar refused to issue a permit to allow Drakes Bay to continue farming upon the expiration of its 40-year-lease. The lease allowed the farm to operate on public land within the Point Reyes National Seashore, which was created decades after the oyster farm’s inception.

Drakes Bay asserts that the Ninth Circuit panel failed to consider several critical issues in their decision. Drakes Bay alleges that Salazar illegally determined that the Estero’s “potential wilderness” designation prevailed over Congress’ more recent direction, which authorized the renewal of the farm’s permit due to the fact that Salazar’s decision relied heavily on scientific misconduct and false science.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision to deny this injunction is a step backwards not only for Drakes Bay, but also for Marin County, proponents of sustainable agriculture and farmers around the country. Our attorneys are now reviewing all of our options before we announce our plans moving forward.” Lunny said.

About Drakes Bay Oyster Company

Oyster farming in Drakes Estero, located in Point Reyes, Marin County, has been part of the region’s history for nearly 100 years. The Lunnys, a fourth-generation ranching family, purchased Drakes Bay in 2004 to revive a historical part of the local community and ensure the continued environmental health of Drakes Estero.  Drakes Bay currently employs nearly 30 community members, and farms sustainably in Drakes Estero, producing approximately one-third of all oysters in California. The Lunny family works hard to participate in keeping the agricultural economic system in West Marin alive. Drakes Bay actively participates in the creation of a more sustainable food model that restores, conserves, and maintains the productivity of the local landscapes and the health of its inhabitants. For more information, please visit www.drakesbayoyster.com.

 

Continue Reading

Gluten Free Crepe Contest at SF Squat and Gobble

The San Francisco Restaurant Buzzword for 2013 is GLUTEN-FREE.  Every restaurant is getting requests for menu items that contain no gluten.   But what happens when a restaurant known for crepes gets this request?

Squat and Gobble, known for its savory and dessert crepes, is sponsoring a recipe contest for its customers to come up with a gluten-free crepe that they can put in all of its stores.

“We offer gluten-free items on our lunch and dinner menus,” according to Issa Sweidan, managing partner for Squat and Gobble.   “We know that there is some customer out there that knows how to make a delicious gluten-free crepe.”

Applicants can use whichever filling they would like in the crepe, but the chefs are looking for a delicious gluten-free crepe that they can use with all of the Squat and Gobble crepe items.

The winner of the contest will receive $300 and a dinner for two once a month for an entire year.

Rules can be found on the squat and Gobble website www.squatandgobble.com.

 

Continue Reading

Greedy San Francisco Musicians Turn Down Federal Mediator Recommendation of Cooling Off Period, Forcing SF Symphony to Cancel New York Performances

The Musicians of the San Francisco Symphony (who make $165,000 annually, plus platinum healthcare and pension funds and don’t even work 12 months) have rejected a federal mediator’s proposal to resume playing concerts during a “cooling off” period while negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement continue. The Symphony’s administration was willing to abide by the federal mediator’s recommendation, based on developments over the past three days of talks.

As a result of the musicians’ continuing work stoppage, the orchestra’s three-city East Coast tour on March 20-23 will not go forward.  The tour was set to include performances at Carnegie Hall March 20 and 21, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on March 22, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. on March 23. The ongoing five-day musicians’ strike has already forced cancellations of four concerts in San Francisco.

Over the past three days of lengthy negotiations, overseen by a federal mediator, the musicians’ union rejected the latest administration proposals and continued their strike.

Several proposals by the administration have been rejected by the musicians’ union.  The most recent proposal offered increases in musician compensation to achieve a new annual minimum salary of $145,979 with annual increases of 1% and 2% for the latest two-year proposal.  Contractual benefits also included a $74,000 maximum annual pension, 10 weeks paid vacation, and full coverage health care plan options with no monthly premium contributions for musicians and their families for three of the four options.  Additional compensation for most active musicians also includes radio payments, over-scale, and seniority pay which raises the current average pay for SFS musicians to over $165,000.

“We are deeply disappointed that the musicians have continued to reject proposals for a new agreement and that the musicians will not proceed with our planned East Coast tour,” said Brent Assink, Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony.  “We have negotiated in good faith since September, have shared volumes of financial information, and have offered many different proposals that we had hoped would lead to a new agreement by this time.  We will continue to work hard to resolve this situation.”

In the current economic environment, the San Francisco Symphony is facing the same challenges that many other orchestras and arts organizations around the country are facing.  For all four years of its most recent collective bargaining agreement with its musicians, operating expenses have outpaced operating income.  The Orchestra has incurred an operating deficit in each of those years.

As a non-profit organization, the Symphony’s financial statements are audited annually by an independent certified public accounting firm.  These statements and related tax filings are publicly available in accordance with the law.  Since negotiations began, the administration has been cooperative in sharing financial records and responded to the union’s requests for information in a timely manner.  Since September, that includes over 50 formal requests for which over 500 pages of documentation were provided.

The administration has also offered to cooperate with third party financial consultants designated by the musicians to review the audited financial statements.  In addition, the administration had offered the musicians the opportunity to have two members join the organization’s Audit Committee of the Board of Governors.

The administration remains willing to continue negotiations with the musicians’ union under the auspices of a federal mediator in an effort to achieve a mutually agreeable contract. The administration will continue to work with the musicians to respond to requests for information, including requests about the Symphony’s finances.

Today’s rejection of the administration’s latest proposal also represents the latest in a series of delays by the musicians’ union in working with the administration on an agreement.  While the administration provided its first proposal October 15, 2012 and offered six subsequent proposals, the musicians’ union did not formally respond to any administration proposal until mid-January 2013. The union did not formally respond to any of this information until just over 60 days ago, weeks after the November 24, 2013 expiration of the four-year contract.

Media may contact Oliver Theil, SFS Director of Communications, for more details on the negotiations at (415) 264-1241, by email atotheil@sfsymphony.org, or visit www.sfsymphony.org/press.

 

For Ticketholders to Cancelled Concerts in San Francisco:

Refunds and exchanges will be offered for all cancelled Davies Symphony Hall concerts. We deeply appreciate your patience during this difficult time.

We apologize again for the inconvenience. Our Box Office opens at 10am on Monday and can help you with the following options for your tickets:

  • Exchange your tickets for another San Francisco Symphony performance this season
  • Donate your tickets, as the total ticket value is tax deductible to the extent permitted by law
  • Exchange your tickets for a Gift Certificate, which can be used at any time
  • Receive a refund for the value of the ticket

Please contact the San Francisco Symphony Box Office with your preferred option in the following ways:

  • email at tickets@sfsymphony.org and include your name and email address, and your preferred option
  • by phone at (415) 864-6000
  • in person at the Box Office on Grove St., between Van Ness and Franklin.

Box office hours this week are 10am – 6pm Monday – Friday, Saturday Noon – 6pm

 

Continue Reading

Marsh Berkeley Cabaret & Bar Happy Hour Fridays

 

The Marsh Berekely’s Friday Happy Hour, with its free, eclectic entrainment, is fast becoming as East Bay Tradition.

Here’s the February – March line-up:


February 8 & 22:
Larisa Migachyov, the amazingly wonderful ragtime pianist

February 15:
Wayne Harris and The Intones (The East Bay’s Best Rock, Blues, R&B & Bugle Band)

March 1:
‘The Night Before Leonard’ 
with Sylvie Simmons author of “I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen,” the New York Times bestseller that NPR named the best biography of last year. On the eve of Leonard Cohen’s two shows at the Paramount Theater, Sylvie celebrates with words, women, songs and cocktails…all of which, Sylvie, assures us, are his favorite things.

She will be reading from her book—and singing some of his songs, accompanied by Colleen Browne. She’ll also be drinking cocktails. Tickets are free (several hundred dollars cheaper than the Paramount.) There’ll be books for sale and to sign.

Praise for the book: “The major, soul-searching biography that Leonard Cohen deserves. Mesmerizing“-NY Times; “A new gold standard of bios”-LA Times

About Sylvie Simmons:
An award-winning writer and one of the foremost rock journalists since the late seventies, Sylvie Simmons was born in London in the UK and lives in the Mission district of San Francisco. Her previous books include Serge Gainsbourg: A Fistful of Gitanes, which J.G Ballard named as one of his favorite books, and a cult short story collection, Too Weird for Ziggy. When not writing about music (for MOJO magazine, the BBC and the UK Guardian newspaper), Sylvie sings and plays a ukulele.

March 8 – 29:
Kike Adedeji ‘s “Ca C’est L’amour.”
Actress and singer, Kike Adedeji workshops her new cabaret show, Ca C’est L’amour. Luscious, a deliriously delightful and ever-effervescent chanteuse, will wrap her mouth around the men who never disappoint—Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Brian Wilson—and talk about the men who do.

This is not your usual story of loves lost, but a wild ride on a geographical safari! A Nigerian in London, a German from New York, a Mexican without papers in San Francisco, all have their songs and say: Come join the fun!

The Marsh Berkeley’s full bar offers festive happy-hour discounts including specialty cocktails and handpicked wine and beer. There is also great bar food—Panini’s, Corn Crusted Pizzas, Mango Guacamole Salsa and fresh-baked cookies.

Everyone is welcome; including those getting an early start for our 8 pm performances.

This is all not-to-miss and completely free—what better way to start the weekend!

Continue Reading

Airbnb Study Finds Online Travel Service Has Positive Effects on San Francisco Economy, Neighborhoods

Airbnb, the world’s leading marketplace for booking, discovering, and listing unique spaces around the world, today released a study that highlights Airbnb’s impact on local economies.

The study was conducted by HR&A Advisors, an industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm, and demonstrates that Airbnb provides a major economic boost both to its users and the neighborhoods and cities where they visit and live.  HR&A conducts sophisticated economic impact analyses for a wide variety of industries and clients, and cities around the United States come to HR&A for guidance on fostering strong and sustainable local economies and attracting new sources of economic activity.  Drawing on this expertise, HR&A developed a customized approach to quantify the unique impacts of the new kinds of tourism that Airbnb brings to San Francisco.

The study found that people who rent their homes on Airbnb use the income they earn to stay afloat in difficult economic times. Additionally, the study determined that travelers who use Airbnb enjoy longer stays, spend more money in the cities they visit, and bring income to less-touristed neighborhoods.

“Airbnb represents a new form of travel,” says Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky. “This study shows that Airbnb is having a huge positive impact – not just on the lives of our guests and hosts, but also on the local neighborhoods they visit and live in.”

The economic impact study underscores the significant benefits that Airbnb, a pioneer of the new sharing economy, has on cities and their residents. Some highlights from the study’s findings:

- From April 2011 to May 2012, guests and hosts utilizing Airbnb have contributed $56 million in total spending to San Francisco’s economy, $43.1 million of which supported local businesses throughout the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

- 90% of Airbnb hosts rent the homes they live in to visitors on an occasional basis, and nearly half the income they make is spent on living expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, and other bills).

- Airbnb guests stay an average of 5.5 days and spend $1,045 during their stay on food, shopping and transportation, compared to hotel guests who stay an average of 3.5 days and spend $840.

- 72% of Airbnb properties in San Francisco are located outside the central hotel corridor. More than 90% of Airbnb guests visiting San Francisco prefer to stay in neighborhoods that are “off the beaten track.” Over 60% of Airbnb guest-spending occurs in the neighborhoods in which the guests stay.

Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, Calif., Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone.  Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point, in more than 30,000 cities and 192 countries.  And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.

Continue Reading

Yoshi’s San Francisco hosts Superstorm Sandy benefit Nov. 6

Yoshi’s nightclub in San Francisco has booked a trio of world music and jazz/pop acts for a Nov. 6 fundraiser to benefit victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Jacques Ibula, Tad Worku and Foxtails Brigade will perform in a show that kicks off 8 p.m. at the San Francisco club, 1330 Fillmore St. Tickets are $10; organizers say all proceeds will go to the Red Cross efforts to aid victims of the superstorm that slammed New York City, New Jersey and other portions of the East Coast last week.

Ibula, a Congolese singer-songwriter and activist, blends folk and Afro-pop styles into his songs that often deal with faith and the prolonged upheaval in his native country.

Foxtails Brigade is an eclectic San Francisco-based chamber pop outfit fronted by singer-guitarist Laura Weinbach and violinist Sivan Sadeh.

Northern California-based singer-songwriter-guitarist Worku’s breezy jazz/pop style and outsize talent has earned him comparisons to Michaelo Buble and Jason Mraz.

Tickets are available at 415-655-5600 or www.yoshis.com

 

From the Contra Costa Times

Continue Reading

Markegard Family Grass-Fed Offers Workshops for the Aspiring Urban Farmer

If you have an itch to drive out of the city learn more about the country life, then Markegard family of Half Moon Bay have a workshop series that might be for you. The Markegards run a large grass-fed farm and ranch in Half Moon bay and raise beef, lamb, eggs and pastured pork, all available via CSA or purchase at the ranch. And in addition to regular ranch tours, the Markegards feature detailed workshops for the aspiring, or simply curious, urban farmer.

The first workshop on November 4th is “Cheese Making 101″ with cheese maker Louella Hill of San Francisco Milk Maid. Using fresh milk from the farm, students will learn cheese-making basics like cultures, molds and rennet. Students will create butter, buttermilk, ricotta-style cheese and end with a wheel of Havarti cheese for on-site eating or aging. The workshop will take place at TOTO Ranch a scenic coastal farm along the San Mateo coast. The cost is $75 and space is limited.

For those who want a deeper understanding of the milk they drink, the Markegards also offer a “Principles of Raw Milk Farm Walk” and workshop on November 5th. Hosted by Tim Wightman, an expert on raw milk production, the workshop will cover all the basic and key principles of quality, safe raw milk production. Students will learn more about soil, forage and herd management and how to look for the best quality milk from local sources. The workshop and farm walk is also at TOTO Ranch and the cost is $45.

Continue Reading

THE MARSH Berkeley Cabaret Presents Happy Hour With Magician David Hirata

Fridays at 6:00 pm

September 7 – September 28, 2012

Free And Open to All With A Full Bar & Food!

Magician David Hirata will be entertaining the Friday Happy Hour crowd at The Marsh Berkeley during September, with live music by wonderful pianist Larisa Migachyov. Hirata, one of The Marsh’s favorite entertainers, will baffle the audience with spellbinding sleight-of-hand in the intimate setting of the bar and cabaret.  Imagine David and Larisa weaving music, movement, and storytelling together, add the theatrical surrealism of stage magic, and this is a not-to-miss, free, TGIF entertainment!

A full bar offers festive happy-hour discounts including $5 cocktails, $4 Ginger Margaritas and handpicked wine and beer. There is also great bar food—Portobello Panini’s, Mango Guacamole Salsa and fresh-baked cookies. Everyone is welcome; including those getting an early start for our 8 pm performances.

David Hirata has performed award-winning magic for over twenty years. He’s been called “a master of deceit” (Henry Tenenbaum, KRON TV), performing “classic magic with classy style” (Gerry Griffin, California Magic Dinner Theater). Classically trained Larisa Migachyov switched to ragtime after immigrating to the United States. She performs around the country and has composed 36 rags—more than any other woman in the ragtime world. In her other life, Larisa is a patent attorney in private practice.


 

Continue Reading

Russian River Brewing Company Honors Toronado with 25th Anniversary Ale

  • Russian River Brewing Company Honors Toronado with 25th Anniversary Ale

Photo: Russian River Brewing Company

Toronado, the staple Lower Haight dive bar with an acclaimed beer selection and a reputation forsurly bartenders, turned 25 on Saturday with a day-long bash featuring the debut of Russian River Brewing Company’sToronado 25th Anniversary Ale. The brew is made up of six component beers that were brewed separately with distinctly different processes, the final blend of which was chosen by Toronado owners, Vinnie and Dave Keene. Vinnie describes the blend as a “sour barrel-aged disproportionate blend of 6 different beers.”

As Haighteration reports, a line wrapped around the bar at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, over an hour before the bar was set to open. Toronado’s Twitter feed notes that the famous Tamale Lady made an appearance at the party and that on Sunday morning the bar “[w]oke up in bed” with its neighbor, Molotov’s: “What the holy hell happened last night?”

Continue Reading

West Portal Restaurants Offer a Passport for World Cuisine Just a MUNI Ride Away

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Promotion through September 30

 SAN FRANCISCO – (August, 2012)  Four restaurants in the West Portal neighborhood are offering San Francisco residents a passport to world cuisine that lies at the end of the K, L, and M MUNI lines.

“We have a world of dining just a MUNI ride away,” according to Pankaj Shah, manager of Roti Restaurant.  “We created this promotion to remind locals that our four-block neighborhood packs a world class punch.”

Beginning for two months on August 1, passport holders who come to any of the four participating restaurants on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday evenings will receive a 15% discount and a passport stamp.   Diners collecting five stamps by September 30 will be included in a drawing for one free meal at all participating restaurants.  Second and third place prices include other dining opportunities in the neighborhood.

To get a copy of the passport, anyone can go to the link at the participating restaurants for a free download.  Participating restaurants include:

Roti (Modern Indian)   www.rotibistro.com

Fresca (Peruvian) www.frescasf.com/west-portal

Spaizao (Italian) spiazzoristorante.com

El Toreador (Mexican)

Promotion is free to everyone.  For additional information, contact any of the above-mentioned restaurants.

 

Continue Reading

The Gold Dust Lounge in San Francisco is History: Tourist Bar to Move to Fisherman’s Wharf

 

The Gold Dust Lounge will shut its doors Wednesday, May 23, and move into a new location at Fisherman’s Wharf sometime in the next four months, according to a source close to the bar.

A press conference will be held at 2:30 Wednesday at the bar, 247 Powell St., to announce that the bar and lounge will fold its tent and move to an undisclosed location at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Recently, the bar was sued by its landlord, the Handlery family, which owns the building where the bar is situated for failing to abide by the terms of its lease and staying beyond the term of its lease.  The bar and its owners, the Bovis brothers, lost a series of legal rulings this past week that sealed its fate.

The Gold Dust tried to use public relations tactics to overcome the fact that the bar didn’t have a lease.  One of its previous attempts to remain on Powell Street was to seek historic status from the City of San Francisco, but the bar suffered a setback when the Historic Preservation Commission decided against granting it landmark status.

Supporters of the 47-year-old bar near Union Square hoped the designation would help save the business from being evicted by the building’s owners, the Handlery family. Next, the bar’s supporters sought help from Supervisor Christina Olague, who said she planned to introduce legislation that would override the agency, whose members said the bar had cultural significance but did not meet criteria for historic landmark designation.

But the supervisor changed her mind. She told the board she’d “respect the process” and stay out of the fight.

The day after the Historic Preservation Commission’s ruling, attorneys for the Handlery family filed a lawsuit against Jim and Tasios Bovis, who run the bar, accusing them of intentionally breaching their contract. The Bovises, in turn, sued their landlords, saying they were intimidated into signing their contract.

The battle over the watering hole started in December last year, when the Handlery family, who wants to put an Express store in the Gold Dust’s space, exercised a clause in its lease and gave the Bovises three months to clear out. The Bovises refused to leave.

At that time, Lee Houskeeper, a spokesman for the Bovises, said bar supporters would appeal the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision to the Board of Supervisors within a month. But the bar never did.

At that time, Houskeeper bragged: “We’re going to keep pouring,” he added. “We’re not going anywhere soon.”

But the Bovises and Houskeeper changed their tune this week after the bar lost a series of three important legal decisions this past week to the Handlery family.

Now the tourist bar is moving to a tourist location, Fisherman’s Wharf, where it can continue to pour drinks like it has since 1966, when the Bovises first started the lounge in the Handlery building on Powell Street.

The biggest question is why the Bovises (and their mouthpiece Houskeeper) didn’t move in the first place, except that they would have lost the publicity and income that comes from flogging a dying bar.  And, of course, who in San Francisco doesn’t like a good ‘ol tenant landlord dispute? It only makes everyone drink more. Just ask the Bovis’ attorney Joe Cotchett who got his hat handed to him by the court and led to the bar finally giving up the ghost and moving to Fisherman’s Wharf.  He will most likely be drowning his loss with a few drinks at the Gold Dust Bar in its final hours, courtesy of the Bovis brothers, no doubt.

Continue Reading

DINE ABOUT TOWN RETURNS IN JUNE

The “second helping” of Dine About Town San Francisco returns on June 1-15, 2012. The program, now in its eleventh year, is a hit with both visitors and locals as it provides an opportunity to experience San Francisco’s finest restaurants at a fraction of the regular prices. Diners may select from more than 100 participating restaurants offering a two-course lunch menu for $17.95 and/or a three-course dinner menu for $34.95. This pricing can represent up to a 25 percent savings off regularly priced a la carte items.

American Express® is the preferred method of payment for Dine About Town, and Cardmembers will earn $15 back when they dine three or more times during Dine About Town at any participating restaurants and pay with their American Express® Card. Cardmembers must register their cards to participate. More information can be found on the SF Travel website www.dineabouttown.com.

The complete restaurant list of restaurants participating in Dine About Town San Francisco will be available after May 15 on San Francisco’s official visitor website, www.dineabouttown.com.

Dates and times of participation vary by restaurant. A la carte menus will also be available. Reservations are encouraged and may be made online through a partnership with OpenTable.com. Information is also available by calling 415-391-2000.

Dine About Town San Francisco sponsors include American Express, BART, the San Francisco Chronicle, SF Weekly, 7 x7 and Westfield San Francisco Centre.

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, packages, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000. The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

Join more than 400,000 people who follow SF Travel on Facebook at www.facebook.com/onlyinsf. Follow “OnlyinSF” on Twitter at http://twitter.com/onlyinsf.

American Express® is the official credit card partner for the San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points and over 69 non-stop cities in the U.S. For up-to-the-minute information on the Bay Area’s largest airport, visit www.flysfo.com

# # #

Continue Reading

Mayor Lee announces the return of “Sunday Streets”, beginning March 11th

Mayor Edwin M. Lee has announced the return of the popular Sunday Streets program with a full schedule of car-free events starting Sunday, March 11th, along the Embarcadero. The eight-month Sunday Streets 2012 season opens streets to pedestrians, cyclists and people-powered wheels of all kinds by temporarily removing vehicular traffic on select Sundays, transforming street-space usually reserved for cars into recreational space for everyone to enjoy safely.

“Sunday Streets not only showcases San Francisco’s commitment to sustainability and innovation, it is a proven cost-effective way to better health for San Franciscans,” said Mayor Lee. “We’re committed to ensuring the program’s continued growth and success in 2012 and beyond. We look forward to returning to Chinatown, doing a more frequent Mission route, and adding a new route in the Southwest neighborhoods of our City to bring the benefits of Sunday Streets to more San Francisco neighborhoods.”

Founded in 2008, Sunday Streets has grown from two events to 10 and creates miles of car-free space on City roads. San Francisco was the third city in the United States to premier this free, community-oriented initiative. Since then it has become the nation’s largest, and one of the City’s most exciting initiatives promoting benefits such as biking, walking, recreation, and community-building. The program was one of only eight programs in the country to be selected for possible inclusion in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign.

Highlights this year include:

Continuing and possibly expanding the new Chinatown event;

Increasing the popular Mission District event to four consecutive events held on the first Sunday of May, June, July and August; and

Introducing a new route in Southwestern neighborhoods.

Sunday Streets is presented by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Livable City, Sunday Streets’ non-profit fiscal partner. The 2012 season is co-presented by Bank of America. The Mayor’s Office, San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works and the Recreation and Parks Department. “We are proud to host our most ambitious Sunday Streets program to date,” said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin. “The Sunday Streets program has a tremendous impact on San Franciscans and visitors alike, who have started to envision the streets in a whole new way; not just as a means to get from place to place, but as an opportunity to create a healthier, more connected City for all.”

“Sunday Streets brings tens of thousands of people outside to explore more than 20 distinct neighborhoods of San Francisco. As a global company founded in San Francisco, Bank of America is proud to support this wonderful event,” said Bank of America San Francisco and East Bay Market President Martin Richards. “Sunday Streets and Bank of America share a commitment to building economically strong, connected, healthy communities in San Francisco and to celebrate the many diverse communities that benefit from the program.”

Financial partners include: AT&T, Shape Up SF, Kaiser Permanente, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, California Pacific Medical Center, PG&E, Lennar, Park Merced, The Seed Fund, The California Endowment and UCSF. Neighborhood sponsors include Sports Basement, Mikes Bikes, REI, CH2MHILL, Clif Kid, The New Wheel, Darling International, Bi-Rite Markets, and The Exploratorium. Major in-kind support is provided by The American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, which provides Emergency Medical support, City CarShare and Parkwide LLC. The San Francisco Examiner and Clear Channel Radio are media sponsors. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition runs Sunday Streets’ volunteer program.

Business community support includes Fisherman’s Wharf, Tenderloin and Fillmore Community Benefits Districts, Lower 24th Street (Mission), Bayview, Taraval and Outer Sunset and Valencia Corridor Merchant Associations, San Francisco and Chinese Chambers of Commerce, and dozens of community groups representing host neighborhoods along Sunday Streets routes.

Sunday Streets 2012 Season Schedule (subject to change):

March 11: Embarcadero- Season kick off

April 15: Great Highway/Golden Gate park- new route through the park

May 6: Mission

June 3: Mission

July 1: Mission

July 22: Bayview

August 5: Mission

August TBA: Chinatown

September 9: Western Addition/N. Panhandle Alamo Square

October 21: Outer Mission/Excelsior


Click here to become a Volunteer for Sunday Streets 2012: Volunteer

Continue Reading