Kabuki, mon amour

The theater in its heyday as the Sundance Kabuki.

The theater in its heyday as the Sundance Kabuki, when it was Robert Redford’s place.

FILM | DAVID THOMSON

People call it “the Kabuki” still, as if clutching at something and hoping it will stay there. It is, or has been, our neighborhood movie theater, with a front onto Post Street, a parking garage, an alleged restaurant — and a certain dejected character.

I’m being as generous as possible because I want it to remain. But I have my doubts now, and I understand if people still think of it as Sundance, Robert Redford’s place, Carmike, AMC or the longtime home of the film festival.

Over the years, there were rumors: Were the Coen Brothers really thinking of taking it over? No, those guys were too shrewd for that. Our Kabuki feels like a place people are waiting to unload.

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Thieves put a target on Fillmore

Fillmoresign

By CHRIS BARNETT

A surge in daring grab and run thefts is plaguing Fillmore Street merchants.

Salespeople at upscale fashion boutiques on upper Fillmore say shoplifting has now morphed into blatant thievery and that some fear for their personal safety. Merchants report numerous instances — more than half a dozen in August alone — in which people case a store, wait until staffers are distracted, then scoop up merchandise and dash out.

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Farmers market gets a new boss

Grant Ike is the new manager of the market — the fourth in the past two years.

Grant Ike is the new manager of the market — its fourth in the past two years.

By FRANCINE BREVETTI

February’s raucous rains may have limited the ingredients you’ve tossed into your summer salad bowl.

The Fillmore Farmers Market is still trying to recoup the fruit and vegetable vendors it lost because of the rising waters on farmland this past winter.

To help lead the resurgence, Grant Ike has been named as the new manager of the market — the fourth since popular founding manager Tom Nichol was removed and later died in 2015.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill — but I wear a size 14,” says Ike, himself a former nut vendor at other markets.

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Bloomers turns 40

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

Photographs by Barbara Wyeth

FIRST PERSON | BARBARA WYETH

The flower business is an early morning affair. My morning usually starts with an espresso at Jackson and Fillmore, then a short hop past Alta Plaza Park to work at Bloomers at 2975 Washington Street.

Opening the door, I’m met with the fragrance of fresh flowers and the aroma of more strong coffee brewing in the back room. The crew is already at work trimming, cutting, cleaning, putting flowers into water and setting up the store for another day of business. Presiding over all this industry, as he has since 1977, is owner and proprietor Patric Powell.

This year the venerable Pacific Heights florist is celebrating 40 years of flowering. That alone is a real accomplishment — a thriving small business with a rarefied and fragile product in an expensive city of fickle taste.

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Historian Kevin Starr: A personal memoir

Photograph of former State Librarian Kevin Starr by Andrew Burton.

Photograph of former State Librarian Kevin Starr by Andrew Burton

By CHARLES FRACCHIA

He was born and grew up in public housing on Potrero Hill. When his parents could no longer take care of him and his brother, he was sent to a Catholic orphanage in Eureka. After a stint as a seminarian he attended St. Ignatius High School, where his Jesuit teachers noticed he could not read well, had his eyes checked, and bought him glasses.

It is a surprising start for what happens next. He attends the University of San Francisco and graduates with honors, does a stint as an officer in the U.S. Army, is given a Danforth Fellowship and attends Harvard University, where he receives a Ph.D. in American literature. Following a teaching stint at Harvard, he returns to San Francisco in 1973, where he becomes a special assistant to Mayor Joseph Alioto and City Librarian.

This protean figure is Kevin Starr, who, during the four and a half decades after his return to San Francisco, became one of the major cultural historians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, a journalist and editor, a generous abettor of many authors, an amiable clubman, State Librarian of California and a distinguished professor at the University of Southern California, to which he would commute weekly from his home in San Francisco.

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A shop becomes a gallery

Mariko Suzuki and Tomoaki Takashima and their treasures at Sanko.

Mariko Suzuki and Tomoaki Takashima and their treasures at Sanko.

Story & Photograph by FRANK WING

Sanko Kitchen Essentials, the anchor shop at the northeast end of Japantown’s Buchanan Street Mall, is sporting a new look these days.

For more than 35 years, it has been the go-to purveyor of hard to find Japanese cookware, unique bento boxes, exotic children’s lunch pails and enough teacups for every day of the year. But recently it has been transformed into an elegant gallery of fine ceramics imported from Japan.

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Tombonistically speaking, in the key of Bernstein

Photograph of Nick Platoff by Terrance McCarthy

Photograph of Nick Platoff by Terrence McCarthy

CULTURE BEAT | PAMELA FEINSILBER

Nick Platoff moved here a year ago to join the San Francisco Symphony’s acclaimed brass section, in which he is associate principal trombonist. Only 25, he helps kick off the fall arts season this month, performing in the symphony’s opening night gala on September 14, followed from September 22 to 24 by “Celebrating Bernstein,” four pieces by Leonard Bernstein to honor the centennial of the master conductor and composer’s birth.

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So long, Charlie

charlie with preschooler

THE NEIGHBORHOOD HAS lost one of its most familiar faces: Charlie, the large golden doodle known for relaxing on the sidewalk outside Peet’s at Fillmore and Sacramento, has died. Charlie always put smiles on the faces of passersby with his unusual size and gentle demeanor. 

He was a frequent customer at George, his favorite destination, and also enjoyed the carpets at Browser Books, where the staff posted a memorial. Said erudite Browser bookman Fred Martin: “He had the soul of a saint and the body of a blonde bombshell.”

VICTORIA’S SECRET

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By BARBARA KATE REPA

Victoria Dunham is bucking the trend.

At a time when many small businesses with unique offerings have been priced out and forced off Fillmore Street, the proprietor of the HiHo Silver jewelry store at 1904 Fillmore has just opened a second shop next door, doubling her retail space.

“I live in this neighborhood, too,” she says. “I know what it means to have mom-and-pop stores here, and this is a mom-and-pop — or at least a mom.”

In mid-July, Dunham opened a new boutique one door north, naming it simply for its address: 1906. The spot allows her to showcase the many gems and curiosities she finds too weird or wonderful to resist while traveling the world scouting for silver: scarves and shawls, framed insects, stainless steel vases, sting ray wallets and coin purses and polished wooden boxes.

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Bumzy’s is back

bumzy

THEIR FANS WERE almost ready to give up, but not the mother-daughter duo Sheila and Toni Young.

Their labor of love — Bumzy’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, at 1460 Fillmore — was shut down by flooding last September and stayed closed for nine long months.

But just in time for Fillmore’s annual Juneteenth Festival, their cheery pink balloons were back on the sidewalk and an entirely new Bumzy’s was baking all-natural, handmade cookies.

“We had to start all over,” says Toni Young. “It was a real nightmare. But we’re back better and stronger than before. Something positive always comes out of something negative.”

Their chocolate chip cookies have been hailed as the best in the neighborhood.

“We make homemade products,” she says. “So we want it to feel like home.”

In addition to a dozen kinds of cookies, made one small batch at a time, they also churn homemade ice cream. And now they’ve added Hawaiian shave ice — snow cones to the locals.

“It’s a happy thing,” says Young. “My mom says people come in as an adult and skip out as a happy kid.”

EARLIER: “Cookie lovers in the jazz district