Noe Valley Voice November 2005

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

INDIAN SUMMER in Noe Valley was sure short. It started at the very end of September and ended by the last week of October, with intermittent days of winter throughout our little heat wave. Soon it will be "Happy Holidays" and hats and horns, and trying to remember to write a 6 instead of a 5.

I hope you all inaugurated the holiday season by attending the Oct. 22 Noe Valley Harvest Festival. The fog lifted nicely for the fest--the first street fair in this valley since 1984. Organized primarily by the Friends of Noe Valley and the Noe Valley Merchants Association, the event proved to be tons of fun and very Noe Valley. The smallish magnitude of the festival, from Church to Sanchez on 24th Street, definitely seemed neighborhood-appropriate. There were lots of kids and dogs on the scene, many of them dressed in their Halloween costumes. The music was great, and the acoustics made the valley sound like the Hollywood Bowl. All in all, it was a well-organized, well-orchestrated, and well-attended affair. The only casualties were a couple of people reportedly rear-ended by strollers.

A big thanks to the local businesses who gave monetary support, especially Sterling Bank (thanks for the stage), Wells Fargo Bank (thanks for the stagecoach), Zephyr Real Estate, Walgreen's, B.J. Droubi, Pasta Pomodoro, Forbeadin', Tully's, PlumpJack, Firefly, Lovejoy's, and Lisa Violetto Designs.

The Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation is also awarding medals of honor to the five fabulous people who were key to making the Harvest Fest run so smoothly: Merchants Association vice president Donna Davis of Forbeadin'; Mary Teahan-Duffy of Glencar Graphics; Paula Benton, owner of Artery; Friends of Noe Valley president Richard May, and finally, by all accounts the truly dedicated, tireless, go-to person without whom the fair would not have happened: Sara Butz. Butz is also a newly elected vice president of Friends of Noe Valley.

Volunteerism aside, the tab for putting on the festival was around $21,000. Hopefully, that was within budget.

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COURT AND PARK: The Friends of Noe Courts Park were able to raise almost $1,500 in donations and food and raffle ticket sales at a Sept. 10 free concert at Noe Courts, reports Friends co-chair Eden Halbert.

"I would estimate that about 300 people showed up at the concert, which was free, and many of them wanted to support our efforts. No doubt they really enjoyed the three bands, who all agreed to play a set at no charge," says Halbert.

All were very local bands--the Jukes from Noe Valley doing blues, the pop-rock Playdate, also from Noe Valley, and of course, Dixieland Dykes + 3, who played some great instrumentals.

"We had a lot of help from the Animal Company, too," says Halbert.

Friends of Noe Courts, which was founded by Halbert and Laura Norman, has been actively working with the city's Rec and Park Department and other groups to gather funds for renovation of the park, at 24th and Douglass streets. They'd especially like a new fence around the toddler playground and some better play structures.

If you're interested in getting your name on their mailing list and/or making a donation (it's tax-deductible), e-mail I wonder how much a new outhouse costs.

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YOU'RE ADOPTED: On Sept. 28, James Lick Middle School received a check from Wells Fargo Bank in the amount of $11,000 at a breakfast ceremony at Everett Middle School. It was part of $80,000 in grants awarded to 48 San Francisco public schools. Most other schools received mere thousand-dollar grants.

On hand that morning was Wells Fargo's Noe Valley branch manager, Robert Ashpole, who says he was delighted that Lick was chosen. The Wells Fargo employees formed teams and made recommendations for their "Adopt a School" program. Most of the grants included monies from "Adopt a School," says Ashpole, "which partners with other companies such as KNBR Radio and Amici's East Coast Pizza to assist the school in overcoming budget problems."

According to Ashpole, Wells Fargo has contributed more that $4 million to Bay Area schools over the last year.

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NEWS FROM THE GLEN: Down south in Glen Park, scores of people showed up at the BART station Oct. 15 for a thank-you ceremony for Congressman Tom Lantos. He was instrumental in getting $3.5 million from the federal transportation budget for improvements to the Glen Park BART Station and surrounding intersections.

Our District 8 supervisor, Bevan Dufty, organized the event and introduced city planner AnMarie Rodgers as the "Goddess of Planning" for her three months of hard work, pulling together the draft plan for Glen Park. Representative Lantos then presented Rodgers with a congressional certificate, and noted, "After all my years in Congress, this is my first time to give a commendation to a goddess." Destination Bakery and Chenery Park Restaurant provided tasty light refreshments.

Meanwhile, Glen Park residents are still waiting to see what grocery store will open in the building currently under construction on Diamond near Chenery. As you all know, the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library will move into the second floor, and the new grocery will occupy the ground floor.

Since Bi-Rite Market pulled out of the deal to buy the space this past August, neighbors are skeptical they'll ever see a replacement for the supermarket that burned down more than five years ago (Glen Park's only big grocery).

Still, my spies tell me that talks are hot and heavy between the developer and Oakville Grocery, a market with stores in Napa Valley, Healdsburg, and Palo Alto.

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MARKET QUOTES regarding the fate of our own Downtown supermarket, Bell Market, are still circulating in the neighborhood. The latest scoop, from sources who wish anonymity, is that Bell's parent, Ralphs (Kroger), is on the verge of selling 23 of its markets in Northern California. Twenty of them are rumored to be going to a large chain, and the rest to a high-end organic grocery chain.

Who's who and who gets what are open to speculation, but sources say there should be a public announcement by the first week in November. All the principals are staying mum, so it looks like it's a done deal.

At least we know it won't be a Wal-Mart...or a Home Depot, for that matter.

While we're on the food beat, reports have been coming in that workers are hammering away in the space formerly occupied by Mikeytom Market at Church and Day streets. A check with the building owner, who was contemplating selling the building, produced no news, however, except that he is not selling it but rather offering it for lease. He is asking two dollars a square foot for the 2,500 square feet of space plus basement.

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THE DOOR SWINGS BOTH WAYS: Open Door Yoga, on the corner of Castro and 25th streets, will close its doors forever at the end of November. Owner Lizzie Nichols says her five-year lease ran out and "it was a tough call--we were doing okay, but rents are high and competition is stiff. Since we opened five years ago, more than 25 new yoga studios have opened in San Francisco."

The Open Door space used to be Yoga Shala, which opened in 1997 and lasted about three years. Nichols, who started out as a student there, took over in May 2001, and has had a lot of neighborhood support for her efforts to maintain a full schedule of classes. (See Stephanie Levin's letter to the editor in this issue.)

Down the street at 1400 Castro, opening new doors is clothing designer Liz Terbolizard, former owner and operator of the Lit'l Lizards children's clothing shop on 24th Street. Terbolizard is teaming up with Noe Valley native Connie Walkershaw, who has been a clothing designer with her own label since 1986.

Their new space will serve as both a studio and a retail store, called Walkershaw Clothing. They also will be teaching sewing to kids and adults, as well as showcasing their latest designs. Like Terbolizard, Connie Walkershaw is juggling a lot of plates: she's a regular volunteer at Alvarado School, and she and her husband are also jazz musicians.

Closing the doors to her 24th Street boutique on Oct. 30--but not closing her business--is Teresa Gay. She is moving her 15-month-old women's clothing store, La Coterie Style Studio, from its retail space on 24th (next to Artsake) to online ordering at, which she will operate out of her 26th Street home.

"With the rent over $3,000 a month for 800 square feet of retail space, I was just at the break-even point," explains Gay. "Retail business is hard enough, but I don't think we were getting enough foot traffic and people coming from outside the neighborhood. I can cut my overhead substantially by working out of my house. My family and friends are happy because they will be seeing a lot more of me, and I can still serve the clientele that I have developed."

Though her shop is moving off the main drag, Gay will continue her involvement with the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association. As a vice president of the group, she is busy organizing a "Noel Stroll" on Thursday evening Dec. 10. The event will have Christmas carolers and school choirs serenading shoppers on 24th Street. "We are planning other surprises" as well, says Gay.

No word yet on who will be moving into her vacated storefront.

Oh, while we are talking doors, I should set the record straight on Indigo V. In the September Rumors column, I reported that Diane Barrett had closed her doors (at 4156 24th Street) to retail traffic and was focusing on doing arrangements for her corporate clients. Wrong.

"We have simply closed our doors to regular walk-in traffic so we can concentrate on our flower-arranging and deliveries," says Barrett, "and virtually none of our customers are corporations--they are just regular folks like you and I."

Barrett says that almost all of her customers phone in their orders (647-2116), which are then delivered as she is instructed, or else they can stop by the shop and pick up their flower arrangements.

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WE'RE THERE: In an effort to boost sales, a group of Downtown Noe Valley merchants has convinced Where magazine to include a section on Noe Valley. Where is that magazine found in roughly 24,000 of the city's hotel rooms, placed there to guide tourists around the city. We are now identified by name on the famous centerfold map and have our own "Noe Valley Page" of advertisers. In fact, we are described as one of six "Stylish Streets" in the October issue.

Where goes on to call Noe "one of the city's favorite destinations for browsing in a small-town atmosphere. The five-block shopping corridor between Dolores and Diamond streets is easily accessible via Muni's J-Church rail line, and offers everything from children's apparel to runway styles in a neighborhood replete with charming cafes and restaurants."

FYI, each of the participating merchants has taken out an ad in the mag, to the tune of about $200 per month. That will always get the attention of magazine publishers.

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SCREENING ROOM: Noe Valley filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt's program of nine shorts, "Matters of Life and Death," is being featured close to home: from Nov. 11 to 17 at the Roxie Cinema on 16th Street, and from Nov. 18 to 24 at the Smith Rafael Film Center in Downtown San Rafael (which is a fantastic venue). The program is co-sponsored by the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, which recently gave Rosenblatt its first Freedom of Expression Award.

Rosenblatt has been winning awards for his films for the past 20 years, and this is a unique opportunity to see a cinematic festival of his stuff. Mark your calendars.

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THOROUGHBRED AND BUTTER: Lost in the Fog T-shirts have been popping up on the streets of Noe Valley. Bay Meadows designated a special day for our local hero last month, and our favorite colt is running in the Breeders Cup on Oct. 29 in New York, right after the Voice goes to press. Win, lose, or draw, next month we will have the results of the race, along with some firsthand accounts by Lost in the Fog's owner, Noe Valley native Harry Aleo.

Before I go, I hope you all stop for a moment on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and remember why Nov. 11 is a national holiday. It was at that moment in 1918 that an armistice was signed in a railcar in a forest in France, an armistice that ended World War I, the war that was going to end all wars.

This Armistice Day (Veterans Day), perhaps we could start plans for an armistice in our most recent war. That's 30, folks.