Pascal Rigo’s boulangerie is reborn

THE $100 MILLION MAN is coming home.

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.


Local Anglican archbishop resigns

Archbishop James Provence at St. Thomas Anglican Church in San Francisco

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.

EARLIER: “Archbishop of the neighborhood

For Jet Mail, the end is here

Photograph of Jet Mail's Kevin Wolohan by Kathi O'Leary

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.


Jerry Mapp is finding his voice

Singing has helped Jerry Mapp battle Parkinson's disease.

Singing has helped fundraiser Jerry Mapp battle Parkinson’s disease.


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.

Then he got Parkinson’s disease.


She’s one of the boys no more

NOW WHO WILL WE ASK how to cook a pot roast?

The neighborhood’s reigning maven of meat — Mollie Stone’s butcher Lorain Arruabarrena — retired June 1.

For more than three decades, she served up meat and fish and advice on what to do with it, the lone female behind the counter in an almost entirely male industry.

Butchering was in her blood. Her grandfather was a butcher who raised rabbits in Sonoma. She grew up around animals, and spent her time off hunting deer at an otherwise all-male camp up in Lake County she joined in 1956.

Butcher Lorain Arruabarrena

Butcher Lorain Arruabarrena

“I’ve loved to hunt and fish since I was four years old,” she said. “I was always a tomboy. Barbie and Ken didn’t have a chance with me.”

In a profile a few years ago, she acknowledged being a mother figure and mentor to some of the younger men cutting chops at Mollie Stone’s, at 2435 California Street. It helped that she knew how to cook.

“I’m a piece of the furniture at this place,” she said at the time. “I don’t know if I’m a recliner yet.”

Now she knows.

She got sick last fall, but battled her way back to work. She didn’t have the energy to walk across the street to Dino’s for her usual Coke and slice of pepperoni, so she’d take her breaks upstairs in the lunchroom.

“It didn’t feel right,” she said.

She used up her sick leave and vacation time, then filed for retirement in February. She’s been out of the store since April 7, when the doctors decided major surgery was required.

“They cut me from my rib cage down to my bikini line, and down both legs,” she said. “I was scared shitless. But the lady surgeon who did it was very good.”

And it turned out the father of one of her caregivers had been her first boss when she was a young butcher at Petrini’s.

“Now I’m okay,” she said the night of her retirement as she celebrated with her brother and son. “I cooked a roast beef.”

If her health continues to improve, she hopes to start working again part time at the store in the fall.

EARLIER: “One of the boys

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.


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

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

Farewell to a Fillmore icon



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

Weir cooking in the neighborhood

Joanne Weir's cooking shows on PBS are filmed in her home kitchen on Pine Street.

Joanne Weir’s cooking shows on PBS are filmed in her home kitchen near Fillmore.

NEIGHBORHOOD CELEBRITY CHEF and cooking teacher Joanne Weir is launching a new public television series — her eighth — focusing on complete menus from fresh, local ingredients. “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh,” like her two most recent series, “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class” and “Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence,” will be filmed partly in the neighborhood.

“Many people don’t realize that kitchen is my home kitchen studio right here in the neighborhood,” she says. “For a few years, I shot in the studio at KQED and, though I liked it, I love being in my own kitchen. When I open a drawer, I know what I’m going to find inside. And if we run out of something, we can always run over to Mollie Stone’s or Whole Foods.”

In the new series, she will also step out of the kitchen to spots in Northern California and beyond searching for fresh ingredients, exploring organic tomato farms and walnut orchards, visiting fig growers and cheese producers — even fishing in Alaska. Using seasonings from Spice Ace, the neighborhood’s spice emporium, the show’s menus will be inspired by the farmers, butchers, fishermen and cheese makers featured along the way.

As in her previous shows, she will be joined in her kitchen by special guests, including several principal dancers from the San Francisco Ballet. For the broadcast schedule, visit her site.

Shell garage told to close

Owner Doug Fredell and his fellow mechanic Chelse Batti have built a loyal clientele.

Owner Doug Fredell and his fellow mechanic Chelse Batti have built a loyal clientele.

DESPITE AN OUTPOURING of support from its customers in the neighborhood, Shell Auto Repair at 2501 California has received notice it must close by January 31.

UPDATE: Just as they were preparing to pack up their tools and shut down, the mechanics at Shell Auto Repair got a three-month reprieve. The business will continue through April 30, giving its two mechanics extra time to find a new location.

“We’re going to see about lining up an alternative location for the shop,” said owner Doug Fredell. “If not, we’ll close. We at least have a fighting chance.”

The owners of the Shell station have submitted plans to the city that would eliminate the garage, add gas pumps and replace the current building with a two-story 24-hour Loop Marketplace convenience store and cafe. The proposal is expected to come before the Planning Commission early in the new year.

More than 200 people signed an online petition opposing the plans and dozens sent letters and emails to City Hall.

Mechanic Doug Fredell, who has leased the garage for the past decade, said he and fellow mechanic Chelse Batti have been overwhelmed by the support they received from the community.

“The neighborhood really stepped forward,” Fredell said. “It’s pretty incredible to know people care that much.”

Ultimately, that support appears to have backfired. When the owner of the station, Nick Goyal, learned that officials at City Hall were listening to neighborhood sentiment against his plans, he notified Fredell he had to be out by January 31.

“It’s a lot cleaner to have the space empty for whatever they want to do,” said Fredell, who had a month-to-month lease. He sought legal advice about his options and found he had none.

Fredell said he has hired a broker to look for another space, preferably nearby, but has found nothing so far.

“Anything that’s a car repair shop is being turned into something else,” he said. “Too bad there isn’t a nice little place on Sutter Street, where everybody else is going.”

Fredell said he remains hopeful a new location will surface — perhaps through a client — in the new year.

“We spent a lot of time building up a good business,” Fredell said. “We wanted to be that place in the neighborhood that is indispensible to people.”

He said telling customers the garage has a definite closing date has been tough.

“Customers get so outraged,” he said. “They found a good place they liked and could trust.”

The garage has operated continuously on that corner for decades. It was owned by Bud Martinez for nearly 60 years. After Fredell took over, Martinez continued to work part time until his death in 2012.

EARLIER: “This Bud’s for you

‘The city’s most charming theater’

Michael Blythe at his frequent post behind the Clay Theater concession stand.

Michael Blythe at his frequent post behind the Clay Theater concession stand.


Michael Blythe has worked at the venerable Clay Theater at 2261 Fillmore Street for nearly a decade. In that time he’s had the opportunity to lavish his love of old theaters on the Clay, which is now more than 100 years old.

On New Year’s Eve he helped launch a new venture as the Oasis nightclub on 11th Street began a new life. But he’s not entirely leaving the Clay behind.

What first attracted you to the Clay Theater?

I come from a lighting background. When I was a kid I was obsessed with lights, and still am. I was a nightclub lighting director in San Francisco before I moved to Minnesota, where I honed my craft running large moving rigs for a couple of clubs downtown, including shows I did at the legendary First Avenue nightclub.

When I returned to SF I got the job at the Clay that allowed me to have the freedom to work shows, but also get into one of my other longstanding obsessions: old theaters.