Noe Valley Voice May 2008

Rumors Behind the News

By Mazook

IT WAS THE LAST SUPPER at Joey and Eddie's Pescheria on the first Saturday of April, and a sad time for all the regulars at the Church Street restaurant. Unfortunately, there were not enough regulars to keep Pescheria's Italian seafood service going, so restaurateur Joseph Manzare (Zuppa, Tres Agaves) and business partner Eddie Maiello closed the doors they opened with much fanfare (and long lines) back in September of '06.

According to the April 2 Chronicle, the partners will be building a new Pescheria at 1600 Market, at Octavia. Meanwhile, some of the crew transferred over to Manzare's new Italian restaurant, Joey and Eddie's, which just opened where Moose's Restaurant used to be, in Washington Square. Good luck, we'll miss you.

Henry's Hunan, which has four other locations in San Francisco (Chinatown, Financial District, and two in SOMA), has agreed to buy out the lease, together with the fixtures and equipment. The restaurant will reopen the doors at 1708 Church after it obtains licenses to remodel the interior.

"We're hoping to open in July or August," says Henry's general manager, Eddy Zhu, "after we get all our permits with the city and make some changes in the kitchen, to change stoves and install woks." Zhu says he has worked 25 years with owner Henry Chaun, who opened his first Hunan-style Chinese restaurant on Kearny Street in 1974.

"We are opening on Church Street because we think that Noe Valley is really cool and diverse, and the neighborhood will like the unique taste of our food," smiles Zhu. "I live in the Sunset, so working in Noe Valley will be close to home."

Hunan-style cuisine can get pretty hot and spicy, but Zhu promises the restaurant will also have mild dishes on the menu.

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SECOND HELPINGS: The bread will be buttered on the new Toast "sometime in the middle of June," says Toast co-owner Eddie Naser. As you will recall, Toast is opening its second location in Noe Valley, in the 24th Street spot vacated by Herb's Fine Foods, which closed in September after 64 years as our resident greasy spoon. The Naser brothers leased the 24th Street storefront in December.

"It normally takes six months to a year to open a restaurant in this city, and we had to re-do the entire interior and kitchen, so we are pretty much on schedule," says Naser. Like Toast No. 1 (1748 Church), the cafe plans to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with hamburgers and salads as specialties.

Those of you following the saga of the construction of Contigo restaurant on Castro near 24th Street through creator Brett Emerson's blog ( may be beginning to wonder how the project, which started almost two years ago, can stay "on track" for opening in mid-2008.

According to Emerson's latest entry on April 29: "In late February I discovered a problem--the bar equipment was no longer going to fit in the space the architects, kitchen designers, and I had allotted for it." Evidently they were off by "305 millimeters," about 12 inches.

Anyway, if Toast is any indication, Emerson won't be blogging about opening Contigo's doors until sometime near the end of this year. Good luck, Brett.

Ali Keshavarz, co-owner of Peasant Pies, the popular "fast casual" meat and vegetable pie takeout counter and mini-restaurant at 24th and Castro, reports that he and his business partner, Chef Gerard Buulong, have opened their third location (the other two being Noe Valley and the Inner Sunset) at the UCSF campus in Mission Bay.

Peasant Pies first opened in Noe Valley in 1993 with their winning recipe, which Keshavarz says, was "based on an 18th-century traditional fisherman's pie (tielle) created in the French Mediterranean port city of Sete."

In other very Noe Valleyesque food news, local chef Melissa Axelrod announced that her food delivery service, Melissa Claire Personal Chef, will start offering meal pickups on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Spring Pilates & Yoga Studio (on Castro near Jersey). Axelrod has worked at Delfina and Gringale, and says her meals are "guided by the Northern California food mantra: local, seasonal, sustainable."

You can check out her menu choices on her website,, and get the details on placing an order.

One sad item in our food department is the abrupt closing of Noe Valley Natural Foods last month. According to neighbors, the market, which took over the space on 24th near Church from Jim & Sons in December of 2006, just closed the doors, threw out the remaining produce, and walked away. One neighbor said the owners complained to him "that the rent was too high."

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WHEEL GOOD: The corner space at 24th and Castro, which was recently vacated by the Vendima vintage boutique--and occupied before that by Graystone Liquors, and before that by the original Noe Valley branch of the Bank of America--will soon open its doors as a bicycle shop called Bespoken Cycles.

"We will open sometime before the first of June," says Aaron Allen. He, Stefan Paszke, and Ari Bronstein will specialize in handmade customized bikes and high-end manufacturers like Seven Cycles and Serotta, with prices that range, according to Allen, "anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000.

"Our focus," Allen explains, "is on the bio-mechanical work of fitting and customizing the frame built according to the height, weight, torso, and arm length [of the purchaser]--kind of like having a suit custom-tailored."

Why Noe Valley? "This is primarily a 'destination-driven' business, so we looked at a lot of places in the city," says Allen, "and we really liked the neighborhood and the space, which is close to where we all live--I live in Bernal, Ari in Glen Park, and Stefan in NOPA."

Down the block near Noe and 24th, an even more specialized new shop called Glare took over the space where Indulge Yourself lasted for less than a year. Glare, perhaps a fitting successor to the space, sells only sunglasses.

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SENIOR HOUSING MOMENTS: As most of you oldtimers know, the six senior residential units completed at 3953 24th Street across from Bell Market (where the Lunny House once stood) have remained vacant for almost three years now. Clearly, the original price tag of $750K for most of the units was a no-go for the 62-and-older group of buyers who could qualify to live in them. (The developers had won the city's blessing by earmarking the complex for senior housing, albeit with no off-street parking.) Last year, the owners attempted to change the senior housing designation, but failed to get approval from the Planning Commission (see Voice, November 2007).

Well, last month, the six units--five one-bedroom two-bath units, and a single studio--went back on the market, and the asking price, according to listing realtor Eileen Long (Vanguard Real Estate), was "dramatically reduced." The price was $399,000 for the one-bedrooms and $299,000 for the studio.

"We have had some movement and have one unit that is in escrow now. Another is currently in the process of negotiation," says Long, who bought the Lunny House property with partners Jeremiah Cullinane and Denis Cullinane in 2002 for $700,000. "This has been a long process that [we] started in 2003 when the original plans called for four condos with off-street parking, which was opposed by the neighborhood. Then [it took] approval of plans for the senior housing, with construction completed on the project in August of 2005."

She will be more than glad to see the units sold and occupied.

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HOT HOUSES: Soon to be for sale is the historic firehouse located at 3816 22nd Street between Noe and Castro. This structure was originally built by the San Francisco Fire Department in 1909, and was in service as Engine 44 until the late 1950s, when it was vacated by the SFFD and sold at public auction for $7,500 to Noe Valley artists Mark Adams and Beth Van Hoesen. It was their home and studio for almost 50 years. Adams became quite famous for his vivid tapestries and Van Hoesen for her fine prints.

It was sold two years ago, and after a year in the permit process and a year more of renovation it has become a four-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion, with a roof terrace, two fireplaces, and landscape gardens, and of course two-car parking.

The asking price, according to realtor Joe Marko of Paragon Real Estate Group, "will be in the $6 million range." You can check it out in person at soon-to-be-announced open houses in May or in cyberspace at

At the other end of Noe Valley, in the 500 block of Laidley Street, you might find that a nearly completed four-story house in the middle of the block would better suit your needs. The single-family residence, at 538 Laidley, is being built by Pat Loughran and Brian Butler, who have become somewhat famous for their "green" houses in the city.

The new house has been constructed of reclaimed material, says Loughran. "It has a solar-driven electrical system and hot water, and a 5,000-gallon-capacity rain harvest system [the tank lies below the back yard]."

The Discovery Channel sent a crew to the house in late April to film for a show called Renovation Nation, which will appear on Discovery's new Green Channel, set to start this summer. The show will be hosted by Steve Thomas, the former host of This Old House on PBS. Loughran says the episode about the Laidley project will be aired "sometime in the fall, according to the show's producers."

The house should soon be listed for sale, and the asking price will be "in the $2 million range."

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REC AND ROLL: Upper Noe Rec Center's $12.5 million upgrade should soon reach completion, although it seems that the projected "mid-June" date for opening ceremonies could be somewhat optimistic.

Undaunted, and in keen anticipation of the opening, the Friends of Noe Valley Recreation Center held a gala fundraiser at the beginning of April hosted by Frank Jernigan and Andrew Faulk at their rather famous house (see "The House that Google Bought," Voice December 2005).

According to FNVRC organizer Alexandra Torre, about 75 neighbors attended the get-together and over $6,000 was raised. Altogether, more than $50,000 has been raised by FNVRC to use for extras at the park. Many supporters have bought tiles, and now park patrons can donate brick pavers near the outdoor basketball courts and plaques on benches ($1,000 to $5,000). Interested? Contact Torre at

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THAT'S 30 for this month. Ciao for now.