Black Bark chef David Lawrence: “We might as well go for it.”
By BARBARA KATE REPA
When David Lawrence and Monetta White announced plans to open their high end but homey restaurant, 1300 on Fillmore, eight years ago, friends cautioned against it. “They said, ‘You’re going down to lower Fillmore? Are you nuts?’ ” says White, whose mother and grandmother both grew up in the neighborhood.
But soon after the doors opened, the joint was jumping, fueled by foot traffic brought in by the adjacent Yoshi’s restaurant and jazz club. The club was part of the Fillmore Heritage Center — a 240,000-square-foot mixed-use complex that included Yoshi’s, 1300 on Fillmore and a nonprofit art gallery, with 80 condominiums rising above — all constructed in an ambitious attempt to revitalize Fillmore south of Geary.
For a few years, the $75 million bet seemed to pay off, as the new businesses and residents brought a vibrancy, unity and goodwill to the nascent jazz district, along with new patrons and customers. Then suddenly things changed. Fingers pointed at various culprits: a lagging economy, changing neighborhood demographics, bad management, the new SF Jazz Center in the Civic Center. The Lush Life Gallery closed first. Then Yoshi’s declared bankruptcy. An attempt to revive the club as The Addition quickly failed. For the last year, it has sat empty — an eerily silent space nearly a block long. Many people assumed 1300 on Fillmore was no longer in business, either.
I’ve been a resident of Pacific Heights for almost a century. I grew up in the 1920s, living with my folks in an apartment on Pacific Avenue. Then I bought my own place on Washington Street in 1959, raised four kids there with my wife Nancy — and we’ve lived in that home ever since.
There were really only two major interruptions to my neighborhood residency: going to Stanford, and going to war. While college attendance had expanded my horizons and given me new perspectives, going to war changed everything.
“The war has changed me in ways that will take the better part of my life to understand, let alone make peace with. Don’t ask me how. If you have to ask, you’ve never been to war.”
Those are the opening lines of my just-published book, Battle Rattle: A Last Memoir of World War II.
Being in WWII was the major event of my life. The experience still haunts me to this day — even 70 years after the fact. This is why I spent countless hours in my study on Washington Street sitting in front of a computer to write my memoir.
Isabelle McGee, owner of Regard Interiors: “I work to simplify lives and add a little zest.”
SHE’D WORKED FOR THE RITZ in Paris and other international corporations, mostly designing hotels, but French designer Isabelle McGee wanted something different — something more intimate — when she set out to establish her interior design atelier in San Francisco.
One day she was walking on Sutter Street, just a block from Fillmore, when she struck up a conversation with Joan O’Connor, longtime proprietor of Timeless Treasures at 2176 Sutter and a notorious neighborhood networker.
“I need a space like this,” McGee told her. So O’Connor promptly called upstairs and introduced her to the landlord of a nearby vacant storefront.
She had found her home. In late 2013 McGee opened her consultancy and showroom called Regard at 2182 Sutter.
Nick Nickolas could be the poster boy for a happy retirement. A tanned 78-year-old who looks and sounds 20 years younger, he built and ran a fine dining empire of 30 restaurants that stretched from Honolulu to Miami, is madly in love with his new fiancee and has all his hair and his buttons.
But he simply can’t stop working.
For the last four years, Nickolas has been managing, maitre’d-ing, setting and bussing tables at Dino & Santino’s at Fillmore and California, spelling his nephew, Dino Stavrakikis, on Thursdays and Saturdays so the single-dad owner could have time with his young son, Santino.
Now, with Santino turning 5 and heading to kindergarten, Dino might be expected to spend more time at his pizza palace, with his Uncle Nick backing off to take a cruise for two and play couples golf. But Nickolas isn’t one to sit on the sidelines.
In fact, he is taking the reins of the 28-year-old restaurant and ramping up to five days a week. Stavrakikis has given him carte blanche to change the menu, with some exceptions: Uncle Nick can’t touch “Mama’s meatballs or her spinach pie,” he says, or a few other house signature items.
He’d lived in the flat on California Street near Steiner for 37 years. Suddenly late one afternoon Jim Scott realized something was wrong.
He called 911 and tried to answer all the dispatcher’s questions. Finally he told her: “Look, I have to get out of here. My room is full of black smoke.”
Sparks from a welder working next door had started a fire. The squadrons of firefighters soon on the scene flooded the blaze before it reached Scott’s apartment — but only after they had bashed in his ceiling and windows, leaving his home a soggy and sooty mess.
In his new book, The Al Tarik, Scott, now 93, gently unfolds the story of the three years that followed and landed him in a residential hotel on Sutter Street he describes as “a century-old San Francisco pile” that is “a refuge for those like myself who in their last years have been roughed up and tossed on the rocks and shoals.”
At first his landlord assured Scott he would be back in his apartment within a few months. He moved in temporarily with a neighbor across the alley. But as the renovation of the building languished, he needed another place to stay, and found no good options. So he moved back into his charred apartment.
Daisy and Yonekazu Satoda in their apartment in Japantown.
By PATRICIA LEIGH BROWN
The New York Times
Until recently, Yonekazu Satoda says, he did not recall the diary he had written in neat cursive in the laundry building of an internment camp in Arkansas. He would eke out his entries at night amid the washboards and concrete sinks, the only private space in the camp with light.
Satoda, who gives his age as “94½,” was 22 when he and his family were uprooted from their home in San Francisco and sent to an assembly center in Fresno, and then to the Jerome Relocation Center in the mosquito-ridden Arkansas Delta. They were among an estimated 120,000 people of Japanese descent, about two-thirds of them United States citizens, who were regarded as enemy aliens and incarcerated after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Pascal Rigo reopened his original Pine Street boulangerie October 5, barely two weeks after it was shuttered by Starbucks, which in 2012 bought the maison mere and the 22 La Boulange cafes that grew from it. In the coming weeks he will also reopen five of the cafes, including the prime locations on Fillmore and Union.
For Rigo, it is a homecoming that rarely happens — a return to the place it began 17 years ago when he built his dream bakery and lived with his family above the shop.
Archbishop James Provence at St. Thomas Anglican Church in San Francisco
JAMES PROVENCE, the longtime rector of St. Thomas Anglican Church at 2725 Sacramento Street — who advanced to become archbishop of his entire breakaway province in 2007 — has resigned following allegations of sexual misconduct with a former parishioner of St. Thomas.
In a July 20 letter to the church’s governing body, Provence wrote that he had been advised“for reasons of my health and chronic medical condition to step down from my ecclesiastical duties. I am therefore submitting to you my resignation as archbishop. I am relinquishing my seat on the council of bishops, resigning as ordinary of the diocese of western states and as rector of St. Thomas Anglican Church, San Francisco.”
His resignation followed a formal complaint alleging “pastoral misconduct within a counseling relationship” submitted for the parishioner by attorney Charles H. Nalls, who is also an Anglican priest and executive director of the Canon Law Institute in Washington, D.C.
“We regard the matter closed,” Nalls told Virtue Online, a website that bills itself as “the voice for global orthodox Anglicanism,” after Provence resigned.
“We presented a detailed complaint with exhibits including photographic evidence,” Nalls later commented on the website. “Mr. Provence resigned shortly after the complaint and accompanying evidence were presented without availing himself of procedure or even offering a defense.”
The former parishioner, Kathy Webb, alleged in a public letter that Provence had engaged in improper sexual behavior with her and with another woman.
Calls and messages to Provence and St. Thomas Church seeking comment were not returned.
Photograph of Jet Mail’s Kevin Wolohan by Kathi O’Leary
IT SEEMED AS IF Jet Mail had cheated death.
Two and a half years ago, with its prime retail space at 2130 Fillmore coveted by the onrush of fashion boutiques eager and able to pay far higher rent, the packaging and mailing store moved south to 2184 Sutter. In the process, they sparked new life on a sleepy stretch of Sutter Street.
Now the gig is up.
Jet Mail will go out of business on September 15, ending a 25-year run in the neighborhood. The space will become an insurance office.
Singing has helped fundraiser Jerry Mapp battle Parkinson’s disease.
LOCALS | THOMAS REYNOLDS
For 25 years, Jerry Mapp raised money and cultivated donors to help build California Pacific Medical Center into the respected hospital it has become, with a state-of-the-art new home rising at Van Ness and Geary.
As president and chief executive of the CPMC Foundation, Mapp led a team that raised more than $300 million and helped build a portfolio of assets and endowments.
A year after it went dark, Yoshi's jazz club and restaurant at 1330 Fillmore is still looking for new life.
Finally city officials have announced they are looking for interested buyers — and for local citizens to help choose among the ideas proposed. More information and applications are here.
FILLMORE IS LOSING
SOME OF ITS SOLE
The waves of change keep coming on Fillmore. Now it’s all makeup and clothing.
Both Paolo Shoes and Gimme Shoes packed up their wares early in the new year, after many years on the street. A second Paolo store on Hayes is for sale, but Gimme still has both its Hayes Street shops.
TWO SPOTS GET
A FRESHENING UP
There’s a sassy new look at Benefit Cosmetics, at 2117 Fillmore, all pink and fun and girly.
And Ten-Ichi, the venerable Japanese restaurant and sushi bar at 2235 Fillmore, has also had a makeover.
A pleasant surprise greets customers entering The Postal Chase, the mailing and packaging store at 3053 Fillmore: Longtime Fillmore denizen Kevin Wolohan, formerly of Jet Mail, now works there.
And mechanics Douglas Fredell and Chelse Batti, formerly of Shell Auto Repair on California Street, are now at All American Automotive at 846 Harrison Street.
A LONGER COMMUTE
FOR SKIN CARE
After 17 years upstairs at 1756 Fillmore, Lisa Bradbury Skin & Body Care vacated when its lease was up — and the rent went way up.
Bradbury, a local resident, was one of the first of the many skin care spas now on the street. She has relocated, at least temporarily, to 2358 Pine, above the Pacific Heights Health Club. But she’s also doubled her commute — from one block to two.
Known for its denim offerings, Paige is now open at 2237 Fillmore in the space formerly occupied by the women’s clothing boutique Limu.
Although the Paige brand is available in many department stores, the Fillmore boutique will be only its sixth freestanding store; there are two in Los Angeles and three in New York.
A few blocks south is another new boutique, Luxe, offering glam and glitzy fashions and accessories. It’s just off Fillmore at 2291 Pine in the space that for 20 years housed an art gallery.
Amour Vert has popped up again, this time at 1905 Fillmore — the brand’s third time popping up on Fillmore — while the Japanese fashion line 45R gets its permits in order.
At 2047 Fillmore, the longtime home of Vitamin Express, look for Frye Boots to open a new shop offering both its signature footwear and a line of clothing for men and women.
GAP'S NEW LINE
Among the other fashion stores with eyes on Fillmore is Intermix, a group of 42 boutiques acquired by Gap Inc. in 2012.
Intermix describes itself as “a multi-brand women’s fashion retailer” that favors locations on neighborhood streets — such as 2223 Fillmore, now the home of Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, which Intermix hopes to replace next year.
Intermix claims it is exempt from chain store limits because Black Fleece is owned by Brooks Brothers.
COMING OUR WAY
If it’s not fashion, it’s cosmetics. A new company, Space NK, plans to bring its curated selection of beauty and wellness products from around the world to 2000 Fillmore, currently home of Paolo Shoes.
At 1820 Fillmore, EZ Brow and Beauty will soon be offering facials, waxing and threading.
A GREEN LIGHT
FOR BLUE BOTTLE
The city Planning Commission has given its approval to ambitious plans by Blue Bottle Coffee to combine the two spaces at Fillmore & Jackson — formerly occupied by Tully’s Coffee and Juicy News — into a single space. Construction began, but now plans for a Blue Bottle-Tartine merger are off.
PAINT 'N' SIP
The Planning Commission has given the go-ahead to Pinot’s Palette, which bills itself as “America’s fastest-growing franchise,” at 1981 Sutter, formerly a deli and grocery.
At its 130 existing or planned locations around the country, customers come together for an evening to create a painting while they drink wine.