Noe Valley Voice March 2011

And Now for the Rumors Behind the News

What’s in Store

By Mazook 

IT’S OUR BUSINESS: Empty stores are few and far between in Downtown Noe Valley these days.

Two Birds women’s boutique just opened in the Castro Street space vacated by Cooks Boulevard last March. An orthodontist, Noe Valley Smiles and Braces, will soon put teeth into the spaces formerly occupied by Lisa Violetto and GNC, on 24th Street near Sanchez. Russo Music plans to gleefully open this month in the storefront where Harry Aleo’s Twin Peaks Properties used to reside.

The empty store on Church Street at 24th, between Noe’s Bar and Makras Real Estate (which used to be Forbeadin’), has been rented, says building owner Victor Makras. But evidently the new tenants want to surprise the neighborhood, because attempts to reach him/her/them were unsuccessful.

It will also be a pleasant surprise when the proposed Asian fusion restaurant finally opens on the corner of Church and 25th. So far, the owners are mum.

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SQUARE FEET? If you look hard, you can find a space. There’s that small store on 24th Street next to Mylene’s Hair Salon that was once occupied by Nina the fortune teller. It has been vacant, with paper covering the windows, since Nina disappeared last spring. A “For Rent” sign will be posted soon, according to the property’s manager, Donna Stern of Laramar SF Urban, who confirmed that the building went through a foreclosure recently and is now “owned by the bank.” There have been some problems in getting access to the space, although Stern would not elaborate. A hex left by the departing Nina?

Also vacant and papered over (but not yet for rent) is the storefront at 1352 Castro near Jersey, which has been under construction since last summer. Our NVBI sources say the space’s fate will not be known for several months.

On 24th Street near Castro, the Accent on Flowers space vacated at the end of last year is getting a facelift. Look for the contractor’s “no parking” signs to go up soon and the work to last about six months.

“We will be doing some remodel and upgrade of the space,” says Stephanie Gordon, who is managing the building for the Harry Aleo Trust, which owns the property. She says that “some foundational work has to be done, and we will install an ADA-compliant bathroom, do some plumbing and electrical work, and paint. I am happy to say we have all our plans and permits together now.”

As to inquiries she has received to rent the space, she says, “We’ve had interest by a men’s and women’s clothing store, a title company, a real estate group, and someone who wants to turn it into a tutoring school.”

Across 24th, the 340-square-foot space which used to be MOP hair salon is available for rent. According to building owner Max Selva (who used to have his real estate offices in that space), most of the inquiries are, of course, from hair and nail salons. He says the asking rent is $3,000 per month, but it is negotiable.

And then there is the spot on the corner of 24th and Chattanooga, where longtime convenience store J&J Market closed its doors after the lease expired. Realtor Sharon Cassidy, who also owns the property, is offering the 1,200-square-foot space with a 20-foot ceiling for $5,750 per month. Cassidy says that among those who have expressed an interest are an attorney, someone who wants to open “professional offices,” a day spa, a coffee shop, and a deli.

Also vacant and available for rent is the storefront that was Urban Cellars wine shop (since 1984), on 24th between Church and Vicksburg. According to the building owner’s agent, Mike Foor, the 1,400 square feet will cost $4,500 per month. The rent “is negotiable” here too, says Foor. He adds that a 1,068-square-foot commercial office space behind the store (which used to house Armando Bolanos Real Estate) is also available, for $2,800 a month.

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CALL THE AUDOBON SOCIETY: The two birds who just opened Two Birds (on Feb. 20) have been identified as Susanna Taylor and Audrey Yang. They used to manage a women’s clothing boutique called Heidi Says in the Upper Fillmore. “It was time to go,” says Taylor, “and we noticed that we had a lot of customers from Noe Valley, so we looked for space in this neighborhood.”

Two Birds features “unique pieces by local designers like Ali Golden, Amour Vert, and Theory,” says Taylor, “and a lot of works by local jewelry designers as well as locally made handbags.”

The owner of the Garage Store Merchandise Lounge, aka the Garage Store, at 1104 Sanchez near the corner of 24th (behind Tuttimelon), has changed the shop’s name to Decor Galore. “People tended to believe that because of the name that I was a woman who lived upstairs and had weekend garage sales,” says owner Liz Winsor, “which is not what is happening here at all.”

In addition to the lamps, dishes, and small furniture pieces, Winsor says, “also we have added new items like plants, outdoor statuary, and garden decor.” Galore.

Cosmic Wizard, which has become the reincarnation of Star Magic, has taken a step back in time with the hiring of manager Gibbsen Young, who was an integral part of the magic of Star Magic from 1979 to 1996. Star Magic, at 4028 24th Street, closed in 1998, and was reopened as Star Magic: The Second Generation by former co-owner Robert Hanfling in 2009. It was renamed Cosmic Wizard in July of 2010.

“It’s really incredible to be back,” says Young, “especially when people come up to me and say, ‘When I was a little child, my parents took me here,’ which just blows me away.”

Young is going to expand the “cosmic” product line to include items like the Water Wizard, which he says is “a child’s version of the Buddha Board”; a tea leaf reading kit called Cup of Destiny; a pendulum kit, a New Age Etch-a-Sketch that creates brushstroke images (called the Doodle Board); and a “magic mirror for scrying” (the practice of seeing visions in a reflective object, usually a crystal ball).

The back half of the store has become headquarters for Hanfling’s annual production of the New Living Expo in San Francisco and the Whole Life Expo in L.A. Hanfling is busy now preparing for New Age writer and speaker David Icke’s March 26 Santa Monica event.

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GROCERY CARTEL: All of you Mollie Stone’s fans will be happy to know that the grocery chain is opening a store in Eureka Valley March 9, on the corner of Collingwood and 18th streets. As market watchers know, that space had been operated by DeLano’s Markets, which had taken over many of the Cala-Bell groceries in 2006. DeLano’s closed the 9,000-square-foot Castro store in November of last year.

“We are very excited to open this store, our third in San Francisco,” says Mollie Stone’s co-owner Mike Stone. “We are looking forward to catering to the neighborhood.”

Meanwhile, Noe Valley Whole Foods on 24th Street has added a lot of new “team members” to replace those who have moved over to Whole Foods’ newest market. That would be the one opened last month in the old Cala Market on the corner of Stanyan and Haight. Our spies in the Haight say the store is insanely busy and cars are spilling out of the parking lot waiting for a space. Sound familiar?

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PARKING SPACE ODYSSEY 2011: Where to put your car in Downtown Noe Valley became a little more difficult last month, when the Ministry parking lot on 24th Street between Sanchez and Vicksburg elected to rent parking spaces to monthly parkers only. As you know, the Noe Valley Ministry is planning to sell the property, and a local group is trying to turn the space into a town square (see page 1).

Luke Aguilera, a co-owner of American Parking Management, the company that has operated the lot for the Ministry since spring of 2004, says, “The city is now requiring us to install a new revenue machine that will cost about $15,000. This is hard to justify economically when we expect we have roughly eight more months before the Ministry sells the lot, [which I guess will be] to the city.”

According to Aguilera, half of the 29 parking spaces were already being rented for monthly parking (for example to Martha’s Coffee and Haystack Pizza), and he has had no problem renting the remaining stalls.

In a related item, on Feb. 26 the San Francisco Chronicle (paper edition only) ran a front-page story in their business section by Ellen Lee about a new parking website, Park Circa. “Here’s a tip for drivers circling for parking in San Francisco’s Noe Valley: Try the space in front of Chad Pradmore’s house. It’s just $1.75 an hour and two short blocks from the neighborhood’s prime shopping district.”

Lee tells us that Park Circa hooks up car parkers via their smart phones with available spaces at private homes. The parking price is paid to Park Circa and the space owner electronically.

Reportedly, Park Circa takes 25 percent of the revenue. Sounds pretty simple, with the only question being who pays the city parking tax. Looks like the Mazookmobile will have to pay a visit to Mr. Pradmore’s driveway.

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POPS TOPS: Gwen Sanderson reports that the current movies most in demand at her Castro Street store Video Wave are The Social Network, The Town, and The Kids Are All Right. Sanderson thinks that currently the most entertaining movie on her shelves and the one she would recommend is Easy A, a comedy about a girl who outfoxes the high school rumor mill. “I just love that movie,” she proclaims.

Over at the Noe Valley/Sally Brunn Library on Jersey, the most popular movies seem to be the aforesaid Social Network and the Angelina Jolie thriller Salt, according to head librarian Alice McCloud. “We have 65 copies of The Social Network and currently there are 256 patrons on our reservation list. We currently have 20 copies of Salt and the waiting list is up to 211, but the list can move pretty fast.”

As you library card-holders know, you can order or reserve any movie at the branch online, and you will be emailed a message when the movie checks in. Run (or walk fast) to the library to claim it, and the movie is yours for up to seven days, at no cost.

Over at Cover to Cover a half block away, Mark Ezarik says his bestsellers are Just Kids by Patti Smith, about her life with Robert Mapplethorpe; Quartered Safe Out Here: A Harrowing Tale of World War II, a memoir by George MacDonald Fraser; and Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds, a fable set in “an ancient China that never was.” The book originally came out in 1984, won the World Fantasy book award in 1985, and now is very big here in Noe Valley.

At Phoenix Books on 24th Street, Jill Storthz reports that the store’s top sellers are Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit, and Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The former is a gem that has 22 fantastic maps and an eloquent essay that follows each one. The latter is a young adult science fiction novel, about a teenager in the remote future living in a country where North America once was. It has now become really popular with the older generation, says Storthz.

Back at the library, McCloud says that whatever is on the New York Times bestseller list is also among our branch’s most frequently borrowed books. However, she says that far and away the book most in demand in Noe Valley is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy.

“We have 200 copies [for all 26 branches] and they are always on reserve,” says McCloud. She also says that Tick Tock, the mystery novel by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge, is hot.

McCloud says our branch has more people using the library’s reserve system than any of the other 25 city libraries. “We have more than 200 pieces of media going out every day,” she says.

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A NOE VALLEY HISTORY POP QUIZ! The answers will appear in our fun-filled April Fool’s edition of the Noe Valley Voice. There will be a prize for the first person to e-mail us ( the correct answers to all the questions. The prize will be an extra-large pizza at the Noe Valley pizza restaurant of your choice. Ready?

1. What does the “AT” stand for in the telephone number AT 2-6700 posted on the sign of Hall Realty on the corner of Church and Valley?

2. What is the name of the owner of Tuggey’s Hardware Store?

3. Who are the current owners of the Noe Valley landmark on the corner of Sanchez and 21st streets, the house Mayor Sunny Jim Rolph built for his mistress back in 1930?

4. Where was the first house built in Noe Valley located, and in what year was it built?

5. Where in Downtown Noe Valley was Dan’s Gas and Diesel located?

6. What is now located where Speckmann’s German Deli and Bierstube stood from the spring of 1962 to their last supper on April 27, 2001?

7. Where did Noe Valley Dance Space move from and to, in September of 2010?

8. Name the last president of the now-defunct East & West of Castro Street Improvement Club.

9. Who was the first president of the Friends of Noe Valley, when they organized back in 1971?

10. What and where was the Celtic Tavern?

And, as a bonus question: What month and year did the first Rumors column appear in the Noe Valley Voice?

That’s all, you all. Keep on scrying. Ciao for now.


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