Vivande returns for an evening

Vivande owner-chef Carlo Middione was celebrated and seranaded at a dinner in his honor.

Vivande owner-chef Carlo Middione was celebrated and seranaded at a dinner in his honor.

FILLMORE’S LEGENDARY Vivande Porta Via was reborn for a night as chef-owner Carlo Middione and his wife Lisa were celebrated on April 16 at a dinner of Vivande classics at Luce restaurant at the InterContinental Hotel.

“It was a packed house, full of regulars and friends, some who traveled from quite far to be there,” reported the Tablehopper. Middione “was looking great, beaming like a happy man with a roomful of friends and past regulars should.”

The dinner was organized by Intercontinental boss Peter Koehler, a neighborhood resident and longtime friend and fan of Vivande and the Middiones.

MORE PHOTOS FROM THE DINNER

The menu was all Vivande, including its famous hazelnut meringue cake.

The menu was all favorites from Vivande, including its famous hazelnut meringue cake.

Vivande was one of a kind

Photograph of Carlo Middione at Vivande by Daniel Bahmani

FIRST PERSON | MARK FANTINO

The kitchen phone rang.

It was concealed on metro shelving between a mound of recipe binders camouflaged in a thin veil of flour, clipboards clamped with stacks of checklists, inventories and ordering forms, plus all of Carlo Middione’s published cookbooks. Just to the right was a two-way mirror on the other side of which stood Carlo, invisible and watchful.

“Mark speaking,” was how I answered. Carlo barely knew me then, and vice versa.

“This is Carlo,” said the voice. “Please go to page 124 of La Vera Cucina and follow the recipe carefully and bring me the results.”

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Blue Bottle may open on Fillmore

By CHRIS BARNETT

Trendy Blue Bottle Coffee has confirmed it may open a cafe in the storefronts previously occupied by Tully’s Coffee and Juicy News magazine shop at 2453 and 2455 Fillmore. The new landlord reportedly intends to demolish the wall between the stores and combine them into a single space.

Several real estate sources claim that James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, based in Oakland, bought the two spaces to create his fifth coffee shop in San Francisco.

However, Freeman, identified on the Blue Bottle website as “a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic,” refused to be interviewed about the Fillmore venture.

A representative at his publicity firm said the project “is very much not confirmed.” Then the firm issued a one-paragraph statement in which Freeman confirmed he does indeed hope to open on that key corner:

Blue Bottle Coffee is excited to be pursuing a new cafe located at Jackson and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco. Like most cafes, there are a surprising amount of steps that need to take place in order to make it a reality, but we’re very excited about the prospect of joining this lovely neighborhood. I have admired the building for many years. We will have more details regarding the process and timing of the cafe very soon.

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Barry for Pets closing after 60 years

Mark Ulriksen's Dogs Only, set in Alta Plaza Park, is featured in his new book.

Mark Ulriksen’s Dogs Only, set in Alta Plaza Park, is featured in his new book.

By BARBARA KATE REPA

Barry for Pets at 1840 Fillmore, reputedly the oldest independent pet supply store in the city, is closing at the end of April after six decades on Fillmore Street.

“It comes to a point, with the demographic changes on the street, that this business just doesn’t pencil out anymore,” says owner Gary Collings.

“Now the big box stores have just done us in,” adds co-owner Alice Barkley. “If you look at the pet industry, the same thing is happening to us that happened to the pharmacy industry a while back: The small independent drug stores were put out of business by the big chains like Walgreen’s.”

Barry for Pets opened in the early 1950s up the street in the building in which original owner Janet Barry lived, at 2328 Fillmore, now occupied by Cottage Industry.

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A noir thriller set locally

HOLLYWOOD COMES to the neighborhood April 10 when a new film, Man From Reno, has its San Francisco premiere at the Sundance Kabuki Theater.

ManFromRenoActually, Hollywood is coming back to the neighborhood, since much of the film was shot nearby at the Majestic Hotel and on the streets of Japantown.

It’s the story of a famous Japanese crime novelist drawn into a murder mystery of her own while hiding out from the paparazzi. It stars Ayako Fujitani, Steven Segal’s daughter, and Pepe Serna, a veteran actor with more than 100 film credits, including Scarface. Dave Boyle directs.

Man From Reno fascinates,” wrote a New York Times reviewer, and “nods to noirs from Chinatown to Vertigo.”

In addition to its setting, the film has other local connections. Neighborhood resident Ben Lyon is a co-producer and veteran actor Karl Heinz-Tauber, also a longtime Pacific Heights resident most known for his role in Amadeus, has a scene-stealing role.

“This will be one of the most fun things to happen in the neighborhood in a long time,” said Lyon: “an award-winning independent film made in our own back yard.”

Man From Reno will screen daily from April 10 through April 16.

Minerva’s Owl was a beloved bookstore

FIRST PERSON | CAROL FIELD

Juicy News is moving down the hill to 2181 Union Street — the very place, longtime locals will remember, where Minerva’s Owl Bookshop was located for many years.

Minerva’s Owl was actually created three blocks east at 1823 Union in 1964 from what was originally a coal yard. I founded the bookstore with my partner Ruth Isaacs. We met when I worked for her at the Golden Gate Valley branch library, the lovely Beaux Arts building at Green and Octavia. People from all over the city came to her for advice and recommendations about what books to read.

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Benevolent spinsters’ home now Allyne Park

Remnants of the Allyne house and gardens remain in Allyne Park.

Remnants of the Allyne house and gardens remain in what is now Allyne Park.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

A llyne Park, at the corner of Green and Gough Streets, is a San Francisco gem for which I have a strong affection. It’s across the street from our home. The park, adjacent to the historic Octagon House, is a little plot of green that is a daily gathering place for neighborhood dogs and their human friends. While there is no playground, the park is a favorite hide-and-seek haunt for local kids, who mostly manage to co-exist with the dogs.

Named for the longtime owners of this large lot, the park includes the remnants of a garden landscape that once surrounded a grand Victorian-era house built sometime before 1886. A 1905 map of the property shows a large house with a rambling footprint and several small greenhouses.

At one point, the Allyne family owned all of the lots stretching from Green to Union along the west side of Gough Street, and several parcels along Green Street as well.

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Shell station revamp up for a vote

The Shell station and garage at California and Steiner Streets.

The Shell station at California and Steiner.

PLANS TO RAZE the Shell station and garage at 2501 California Street and replace it with a 24-hour Loop convenience store have been rescheduled yet again and will now come before the Planning Commission on April 30.

The plan has sparked outrage in the neighborhood and more than 200 people have signed an online petition opposing the plan. District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell has said he also opposes the plan.

“I want to be clear that I do not support a 24-hour convenience store at their location, and you can count on my support to oppose their current application,” Farrell said. “However, please know that when the hearing time is scheduled we will need all the community support possible, and hope you will be able to come testify as well.”

The Planning Commission meets in Room 400 of City Hall at noon. Email may be directed to Commissions.Secretary@sfgov.org.

EARLIER: “Shell garage told to close

Charting change on Fillmore Street

hoodline_UFpie

LUXURY APPAREL chain stores have made a major incursion onto Fillmore north of Bush Street in recent years, a new survey confirms, and clothing stores now make up nearly a third of all businesses on the street.

But the survey also finds there are still dozens of service businesses and non-apparel retailers — and that most businesses on upper Fillmore have been open for more than a decade.

The analysis of city data, Yelp price rankings and news articles was conducted by Hoodline, a neighborhood news website based in the Lower Haight that aims to help people better understand what’s happening in city neighborhoods by quantifying businesses and services.

“Why have so many luxury apparel chain stores opened on upper Fillmore?” the surveyors ask. Their conclusion: “Beyond the general economic growth of the city, our findings suggest that the success of independent retailers created an especially attractive environment for them.”

On Fillmore south of Bush Street, it’s a different story.

“For a variety of historical and architectural reasons, the quaint Victorian storefronts aren’t available south of Bush,” the survey says. “The area unfortunately reflects the decades of failed experiments in urban redevelopment. Vacancy rates are higher.”

Hoodline also finds that fewer storefronts are available in the redeveloped areas of lower Fillmore.

“Large portions of the blocks are dominated by blank concrete walls, and the decline in density of shops is unmissable,” it concludes.

Read more: “A victim of its own success?

Farewell to a Fillmore icon

BlueMirror

By ROCHELLE METCALFE

Independent, strong, a fighter, bold and daring, the Fillmore’s Leola King was a phenomenal woman — and a beautiful, sophisticated lady. The high yella Sepia Queen turned heads when she entered a room, divine in her furs, jewelry and glamorous outfits that fitted her style and personality. The lady was a star.

She passed away on February 3 in Palm Springs, where she moved in 2010 to be near her son. She was 96.

Leola King came to San Francisco in 1946. She was a fixture in the Fillmore District and contributed greatly to it becoming the “Harlem of the West.” She was one of the first women of color to own a nightclub and to build a real estate empire in the Bay Area. 

Leola King with her mother in the 1950s.

Leola King with her mother in the 1950s.


Her popular Blue Mirror club opened in 1953 on Fillmore near McAllister, featuring the likes of Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong and Dinah Washington. Pianist-crooner Earl Grant would fly up from L.A. to perform on Monday nights.

Goldie, as she was affectionately known by her friends, was also the name of her last nightclub, on Post Street near Van Ness. 

She lost most of her property during redevelopment. Like others, she received a voucher promising she could return. Unlike many, who could not afford to wait 10 years or more, Leola King had the fight and the money to hang on — but still did not get a piece of the action in the new Fillmore.

During the construction of the Jazz Heritage Center in 2006, she dreamed of reopening the Blue Mirror. When she learned the name would be used for a restaurant in the center without her permission or consultation, she threatened a lawsuit. Instead, the restaurant opened as 1300 on Fillmore.

At her homegoing on February 13 in the heart of the Western Addition at Third Baptist Church, Leola King was passionately eulogized by Rev. Amos Brown, former mayor Willie Brown and others.

Among those who came to express condolences were legendary Fillmore entertainers Sugar Pie DeSanto and Bobbie Webb, both still performing. A repast was held at West Bay Community Center on Fillmore, around the corner from her San Francisco apartment building on Eddy.

Read more: “Leola King: Queen of Fillmore