Noe Valley Voice March 2012

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

Soft Openings, Hard News

By Mazook



Look at Those Eyes. Two-and-a-half-year-old chihuahua “Sadie” was one of several SPCAdogs hoping for a new home last month. You can see other cute pups, as well as adorable kittens, when the SPCA Mobile Adoption crew comes to town four times in March.

The visits are to Church Street’s Noe Valley Pet Co. on March 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and K-9 Scrub Club March 18, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and then to Rabat on 24th Street March 24 and 31, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more infor­mation, call the stores or go to    Photo courtesy SFSPCA


TELLING YOU SOFTLY: New businesses in Downtown Noe Valley (DNV) are opening their doors to the public with little fanfare. This is called a “soft opening.” The official “Grand Opening” comes later, sometimes months later.

On Feb. 25, Dona Taylor softly opened her third store in DNV, in the space recently vacated by Hot Headz at 4027 24th near Noe Street. The new store, called Taylor’s Home and Garden, is right next door to Taylor’s furniture store, When Modern Was. Pretty cozy. Her other store, just up the street, is Gallery of Jewels, which is co-owned with husband Bill Hoover.

The new store is “a vintage home and indoor garden store, with antiques and stuff made out of recycled materials,” says Taylor. “We will have things like carved panels and corbels, planters, urns, botanical prints, and rustic benches and tables.”

Taylor has hired Donna Gee to manage the store. Gee worked at the famous Mia’s Flowers on Church Street for 15 years and then managed the French Tulip on 24th Street.

Not surprisingly, Taylor says, there was strong competition for the Hot Headz location. “The building owner told me that there was a lot of interest by people who wanted to open hair and nail salons, but he wanted a retail store, so he agreed to rent to us.”

She says When Modern Was, which she moved from Church Street to 24th two years ago, has been doing “fabulously” and so she’s more than excited about the prospects for the new store.

“We will be having our Grand Opening in April,” says Taylor. “We will be serving wine and chocolate every Saturday until then.”

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FILLING UP LOFTLY: Moving from 1513 Church St. into the space recently vacated by Urban Nest on 24th near Sanchez is the boutique Loft 1513. Led by Larissa Verdussen, the shop is a collection of wares made by about 40 local artists, most of whom are women’s clothing designers. Their previous Loft 1513 opened in June of ’09. Verdussen has scheduled a very soft 24th Street opening for March 1.

“It has been three years that we have been looking for the ‘right place’ on 24th Street to open our women’s boutique, so I am very excited,” says Verdussen, “since I have been very involved in promoting the designers, like throwing monthly fashion events that showcase the artists.”

The Grand Opening party is set for April 26, from 6 to 10 p.m., and will feature four clothing designers—Verdussen (her line is called Rag Doll), Yugala Priti, Jill Pillot (Ricochet Wearable Art), and Carrie Asby (Sutter Larkin)—and jewelry designer Juliet Spalding.

Oh, by the way, the name “Loft 1513” will not be changed to “3927”.

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ELECTRONIC GIZMOS and high-tech gadgets will be making a comeback this month, when Radio Shack reopens its Downtown Noe Valley store. It’s been at its current location, 4049 24th St., since 1982, but the store had to close abruptly on Saturday, Sept. 10, when a fire in the flats upstairs caused smoke and electrical damage to the space.

Reconstruction began in late November. And workers have been busy going in and out of the shop. But local folks got so desperate, Pete’s Cleaners at 24th and Vicksburg had to start selling iPhone accessories (phone cases).

According to building owner Diane Connell, Radio Shack will be ready to take possession of the storefront in early to mid March.

Radio Shack will then take about 30 days to install what they are describing as a new state-of-the-art prototype for future Radio Shacks around the country. Connell expects the store to hold its Grand Reopening by or before May Day.

“I’ve got to say that the contractors and city building inspectors have been very prompt and cooperative throughout this whole process,” says Connell, “and hopefully the residential units upstairs will be ready to be occupied by June.”

You might be interested to know that in 1960, Connell’s parents, Abraham and Greta Kass, opened a five-and-dime store called Meyer’s Variety in that 24th Street spot. That was when the price of chewing gum was a nickel (see Florence Holub’s Family Album, Voice, April 2002).

These days, there is only one variety store in or near the neighborhood: the fantastic Cliff’s Variety over the hill in the Castro. (Ever been there? If not, you probably just moved here. Check it out.)

As for Meyer’s, Connell says her parents ran the store for 20 years. After they retired, “it was a men’s and women’s clothes store for a couple of years before closing, and then Radio Shack leased [the space],” says Connell.

A Radio Shack representative confirmed its store was reopening but was unable to provide any juicy details.

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EASY BREEZY PLEEZY: The Cosmic Wizard left the 24th Street galaxy last year, but granted the neighborhood one last wish: a frozen yogurt shop. Back last October, Noe Valleons Durand and Ariel Ford signed a lease and embarked on the permit process, after they announced their intentions at the September meeting of the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association.

“We have gotten a lot of support from the Merchants Association and many others—residents, neighbors, and individual merchants in the neighborhood,” says Ariel, “and we are set for a Planning Commission public hearing on our plans March 8, which we are very confident will be approved, [so] we get our permits and start to build out the space.”

The goal for opening their doors is June 1. It will be called, according to Ariel, Easy Breezy, and feature frozen yogurt to go, although there will also be some seating in the store.

Speaking of frozen yogurt, the space vacated last year by Tuttimelon on the corner of 24th and Sanchez is still vacant and not for rent, but my spies tell me First Republic Bank is moving forward with plans to open a small-sized branch there.

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SAY GOODBYE GOODBYE to 24th Street store Ladybug Ladybug, which shut its doors for good on the last day of February. All the inventory flew on home to the Sacramento Ladybug, a second shop owner Sheila Istvanick opened last year. 

“I am really sad to be leaving Noe Valley and all my loyal customers, but the logistics for our family became very difficult when we moved to the El Dorado Foothills three years ago from San Francisco. You know, with three kids (ages 2, 3-plus, and 6) it became a very long commute,” says Istvanick, “and while we had a great store manager [Rebecca Heller], retail has been sluggish for the past couple of years, so two stores [became too much].”

The Noe Valley Ladybug Ladybug began life at 3870 24th almost eight years ago, when See Jane Run vacated the spot and moved up the street.

“I really loved watching all of the kids who came into the store grow and seeing all their parents on a regular basis—a great group of families,” says Istvanick.

“Becka” Heller, who has been at the store for almost five years, has lost her job, but says she will be okay. She is graduating from San Francisco State this spring, with a degree in sociology. Istvanick says Heller was given ample warning of the Ladybug closure and “has been a big help [to me].”

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HIT OUT OF THE PARK: It looks like San Francisco Giants ace Matt Cain will take his first loss during spring training—not on the ball yard but on the sale of his Noe Valley house up on Diamond Street at Beacon.

Redfin reports that Cain’s four-bedroom, three-bath “contemporary, modern/high-tech” 2,815-square-foot home, built in 1968 and affording a great view, was being offered for $1,795,000 and a sale is pending. It appears by public record that Cain purchased the property in 2008—the year he made $950,000—for $2,050,000, and the previous owner had purchased the house a year and a half before that for $1,450,000.

The rumor is that the sale will be consummated in the next two weeks and that Cain will turn over the ball, or should I say keys, to the new owner, having already moved to parts unknown. Bye-bye Baby!

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THE NAKED TRUTH: The Chronicle-SF Gate reported a Noe Valley story that instantly went viral with the headline “Heavy crime in the naked city,” and a post by Vivian Ho on Feb. 23.

According to the story, Noe Valleon John Knight was driving north on Church Street on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 21, when a heavy-set woman wrapped in a blanket, who had just been removed from the J-Church streetcar at 24th Street and was being attended to by some medical personnel, bolted and threw off her blanket, which revealed she was wearing nothing but sneakers. She ran up on the hood of Knight’s Volvo and smashed his windshield. Knight was unfazed by the incident and seemed most concerned—as anyone would be—about whether his insurance company would cover the damage.

SFist ran a news flash on the event and posted a photo snapped by alert neighbor Paula Maxa, who captured the woman climbing on top of Knight’s blue car. The story and pictures have gone round the world, with London’s Daily Mail featuring the incident online under the headline “What an insurance claim he must have: heavy-set woman wearing only trainers stomps in windscreen of man’s car.”

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KUDOS go out to Downtown Noe Valley resident Catherine Bergstrom, who was tapped by Supervisor Scott Wiener as one of San Francisco’s Women of the Year (he chose three in District 8). Bergstrom was being honored for her role in organizing a benefit for the residents who were displaced by the September fire at the Radio Shack building. The fundraiser was held on Oct. 6 at the Valley Tavern, and raised almost $7,000 for the residents of four apartments.

The awards ceremony at the Board of Supervisors will be on March 6 at 3:30 p.m., with the event being organized by the mayor’s office through the Department on the Status of Women.

“I was surprised when I very recently got the letter from the executive director of the Department, Emily Murase (Ph.D.), informing me that I had been nominated by Supervisor Wiener,” said Bergstrom, who has lived in Noe Valley for the past nine years and does corporate communications work in her home office.

“I really wanted to help the people who lost everything in that fire, but really didn’t have money to give them, so I used my talents and organizational skill to put on the benefit,” she says, “and I want to thank Vince Hogan (Valley Tavern), Celia [Sack] and Paula [Harris] from Omnivore and Noe Valley Pets, and Richard Brewer from the Elizabeth Street Brewery for all their support in putting on the event.”

Kudos should also go out to the Fair Oaks Community Coalition, for raising over $15,000 for the three victims of a serial rapist, one of whom was assaulted Dec. 8 on Fair Oaks Street near 24th.

The fundraising efforts were led by Coalition member Blair Moser, who said that “empathetic Voice readers opened their wallets, too, after reading our story about the assault in last month’s issue.”

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CIAO FOR NOW: That’s all, you all. Have a safe and sane St. Patrick’s Day. See you right here next month with all the news that’s fit to print.