Noe Valley Voice December-January 1999-2000

Store Trek

Store Trek is a Voice feature profiling stores and businesses that have recently set up shop in Noe Valley. This month we introduce a new sushi restaurant, a women's clothing boutique, a massage therapist, a video duplication service, and a shop that sells beads and other supplies for making your own jewelry.


1185 Church St. (near 24th)


If you've always admired beaded jewelry but couldn't afford the price tag, or maybe you've never found the beads strung together exactly the way you'd like, then you should check out Forbeadin', an artsy-craftsy boutique that opened on Church Street in October. Nestled into the small space formerly occupied by Moptic (and before that Do Dah Days), Forbeadin' offers thousands of brightly colored beads and an equally full spectrum of jewelry-making supplies.

Owner Donna Davis says she relocated her store from Chestnut Street in the Marina to be closer to her daughter's school during the day. (Nine-year-old Vanessa attends Synergy School on Valencia Street.) "And Noe Valley is simply more bead-friendly," Davis says. "Customers come in here and get inspired. They start off with a pair of earrings, which is easy, and start thinking, Hey, maybe I can make other things!"

Davis conducts workshops on most Friday nights to teach the finer points of beading. (The classes are 7 to 10 p.m., but customers should call to confirm.)

The beads range from folksy to fine art, and come from Italy, China, Bali, Africa, Japan, and the Czech Republic. They are made of wood, glass, porcelain, precious metals, and pearls and gemstones, and are displayed in jewelry cases or in a myriad of small dishes and boxes on the counters.

Davis also sells other treasures she has gathered from around the world, such as Egyptian silk chenille scarves and vintage '30s advertising posters from China. "I carry things that I like," she says.

The beads start at 5 cents and rarely cost more than $2, although Davis does have a "rather large chunk of Baltic amber" for $30. She is happy to advise customers on selection.

Forbeadin' is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

--Heidi Anderson


3985 24th St. (near Noe)


One of San Francisco's most chic women's clothing stores has opened a sister store in Noe Valley. On Nov. 1, Ambiance quietly moved in and replaced Glad Rags, the popular clothing outlet that has thrived on 24th Street for decades. (Glad Rags' departure was amicable.)

Though Ambiance plans to keep some of the Glad Rags inventory, it will also fill the shop with its own style of threads.

"I call it 'Famously Romantic,'" says owner Donna O'Leary, in describing the frankly feminine look that has proved so successful at her original Ambiance, located on Haight Street. The lines she offers feature many knockoffs from the '20s, '30s, and '40s, including classy gabardine suits and long, slinky dresses trimmed with velvet and lace.

The garments range in price from about $30 for a knit sweater to a couple of hundred dollars for evening wear.

Ambiance also carries handbags, hats, lingerie, new and vintage jewelry, and other accessories such as Art Deco silver flasks and cigarette cases.

"We are not a minimalist retailer. We believe in lots of stuff," O'Leary says.

She feels Ambiance will appeal to Noe Valley residents because "we are very customer oriented, and that's not a buzz word for us. We will take back sales goods, and we try never to say no."

Why did she choose Noe Valley for her second store? "This is the last truly San Francisco neighborhood. It's the real thing -- the services, the loyal customers, and it's gorgeous!" says O'Leary. "Who wouldn't want to have a store here?"

Ambiance is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

-- Heidi Anderson

Shelley Clarkson's Body Therapy

1041 Guerrero St. (near 23rd)


As we move into a stressful time of the year, Noe Valleyans can relax with the knowledge that another skilled pair of hands is available to soothe their knotted shoulders. Shelley Clarkson's Body Therapy offers traditional Swedish massage in an airy light-filled space at 1041 Guerrero (at 23rd Street). "My clients tell me it's relaxing just to be in here," she says.

Clarkson specializes in pregnancy massage and teaching infant massage to parents. She was listed in the 1999 Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay issue as the "Best Way for Pregnant Women to Relax."

"Pregnant women can really benefit from massage," says Clarkson. "In addition to improving body image and relieving aches and pains, massage increases your blood flow and circulation to promote easier delivery."

For working folks, Clarkson offers appointments a few evenings and every other Saturday. Prices for Swedish massage are $60 for one hour and $85 for 90 minutes. Corporate clients can schedule on-site chair massage for $60 per hour with a two-hour minimum.

A Noe Valley resident, Clarkson says she enjoys working in the neighborhood, providing "a safe place for healing, so that people can relax deeply."

--Stephanie Rapp

B&H Television

Omega TV Repair

1791 Church St. (near 30th)

B&H: 401-9110

Omega TV: 826-0732

Omega TV has been a Noe Valley fixture since 1974, offering television, VCR, stereo, CD, and tape deck repair from its location on Church Street near the corner of 30th. It also serves as an RCA and General Electric authorized warranty station.

In September of this year, B&H Television moved into the Omega TV space. According to Omega partner Daniel Bennett, the two companies will operate independently under one roof and offer one-stop services to customers.

B&H specializes in videotape duplication and conversion to and from foreign formats. In addition, customers can rent or purchase multisystem VCRs.

According to owner Ernie Beck, Irish weddings are in big demand. Couples who marry here in San Francisco are converting their tapes to European format and sharing the wedding with relatives in Ireland. Swapping favorite television programs with foreign friends is another popular reason for using multisystem machines.

Prices range from $15 for under one hour to $20 for up to two hours. Multisystem machines sell for $595; a weekend rental will cost you $40. B&H also makes house calls and deliveries and will set up systems for customers upon request.

A professed Swedaphile (he speaks Swedish and his wife is a Swede), owner Ernie Beck stocks 170 Swedish films for rental on the European PAL system.

After 30 years in West Portal, he is pleased with the move to Noe Valley. "The weather is a lot nicer here," Ernie notes. The only drawback to being in the neighborhood, he jokes, is that he is too close to Speckmann's beer.

Hours at B&H and Omega TV are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

--Stephanie Rapp

Amberjack Sushi

1497 Church St. (near 27th)


Noe Valley's newest fresh fish seaport, Amberjack Sushi, opened in October in the Church Street storefront vacated by What's for Dessert. (For those who don't know the term "Amberjack," it's an amber-colored fish found in temperate and tropical parts of the Atlantic.) The sleek, contemporary dining room, which seats 46, has a sushi bar and an open kitchen that allows diners to view what's going on during the preparation of their orders.

After 11 years of experience as a sushi chef, owner Stewart Kin-Heng is glad to be opening his own restaurant. "I wanted to show the California influence in my dishes," he says, pointing to the Citrus- Scented Hamachi and Tuna Tartare ($10.50) and Tiger Prawn Stuffed Soft Shell Crab ($8.95). The menu also boasts dessert items with a California flair, such as the Poached Pear in Mango Sauce ($3.50).

But Kin-Heng hasn't neglected the flavor and atmosphere of traditional Japanese cuisine. Customers should note that his kitchen staff uses chopsticks instead of tongs when cooking.

And, of course, there's the sushi. Amberjack offers the staple sashimi (sliced raw fish), as well as nigiri sushi (fish over small rolls of rice), for $10.50 or $13 (for the "deluxe" serving).

Kin-Heng says he loves his new Noe Valley spot, across the street from Eric's Chinese Restaurant and the Fountain of Youth ice cream parlor. "The best thing about this neighborhood," he says, "is that it fits my restaurant concept perfectly. The people here are so friendly and they really appreciate good food."

Amberjack Sushi is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and for dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday dinner hours are until 10 p.m.

--Heidi Anderson