St. Mary’s Cathedral soon after its opening, beyond the tower of St. Marks Lutheran Church. Photos: San Francisco History Center | San Francisco Public Library
LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY
May 2016 marks the 45th anniversary of the dedication of the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, a recognized masterpiece of religious architecture at 1111 Gough Street. Opening after an agonizing design process, the building was not immediately loved by many of San Francisco’s Catholics, who had previously worshiped in two very traditional churches.
NOTED SAN FRANCISCO graphic artist John Mattos has been selected to create the poster for the 2016 Fillmore Jazz Festival, coming on July 2 and 3, and this week he revealed his design.
“Like good jazz, it’s unexpected,” said Mattos. “There isn’t a guy with a horn in this, so it’s not replicating the experience of the festival. After all, the real function of the poster is to get attention, and a complete departure like this might get more attention than visually interpreting the aural experience — plus, it’s kinda light-hearted.”
Mattos follows other top poster artists who have offered their take on the Fillmore festival in recent years, including Michael Schwab, Craig Frazier and David Lance Goines.
PERHAPS YOU HAVE noticed something unexpected coming out of Browser Books lately — the smell of soup cooking, or shrimp scampi sauteeing, or fragrant onions softening in a skillet.
That’s an added benefit of the new cooking demonstrations Browser Books is now sponsoring each month. Randy Denham, a retired caterer who two years ago began working in the bookstore on weekends, is in charge, cooking in the store and serving up samples.
The Elite Cafe closed on March 27 and will remain dark while new owners take over.
By THOMAS REYNOLDS
Stop by the Elite Cafe on a Wednesday night in early March to meet a friend for a drink and the bartender asks: “Have you heard? The Elite’s been sold.”
It’s a shock. For 35 years a mainstay on Fillmore Street, its classic neon sign a beacon at the heart of the neighborhood, the Elite looks like a place that has always been there — and for nearly a century, it has. It opened in its Art Deco splendor in 1928 as the Lincoln Grill. In 1932, during the dry years of Prohibition, it became the Asia Cafe, which is what the neon sign spelled out for the next half century. It became the Elite Cafe in 1981.
Peter Snyderman took over a decade ago, after swearing he would never run another restaurant when he closed the Alta Plaza at Fillmore and Clay. “You don’t get an opportunity to own a place like the Elite very often,” he reminisces before heading in for the final brunch on Easter Sunday, March 27. “But I realized it was time to let someone else breathe new life into the Elite.”
The new owners will keep the name and the look and the New Orleans flavor, he promises. “It’s not part of the deal, but it’s part of the understanding,” Snyderman says. New owner Andy Chun, a rising restaurateur, confirms much will stay the same.
“It just means so much to so many people,” Chun says. “When an opportunity came up to do something with the Elite, we wanted to keep it the Elite and make it the best it can be.”
Gary Mureta and Eric Trabert operate side-by-side shops on Fillmore.
LOCALS | JENNIFER BLOT
“He can sell ice to an Eskimo,” says Eric Trabert of Gary Mureta, his next-door neighbor at the top of Fillmore Street.
But Mureta doesn’t hear his friend’s admiring endorsement. He’s busy juggling the demands of what appears, at first, to be a small and sleepy antique store. But the store phone is ringing. Then his cell phone rings. A customer comes in to pick up a massive — and heavy — bronze sculpture. His only employee is due to go on a break. And Trabert, owner of Trabert Goldsmiths, has popped in to say hello.
Mureta walks out the door to talk to someone on the street and leaves Trabert to hold down the fort. But Trabert doesn’t seem to mind. Inevitably he’ll spot something in the golden glow of the store he’s never seen before. There’s a massive vintage silver and enamel Margot de Taxco cameo pendant, a Scottish agate silver buckle bracelet and numerous Victorian gold insect brooches with semi-precious eyes and bellies. Beyond jewelry, the store is brimming with an eclectic assortment of decorative pieces, silverware, sets of pastel colored stemware and oil paintings by 19th century California artists.
Trabert’s shop next door is a contrast in both ambience and inventory. Brightly lit, with high ceilings, its cases sparkle with contemporary baubles: stackable rings, pieces anchored with unusual pastel sapphires, pearl chokers and thin gold bangles. Trabert offers his own designs as well as pieces from about a dozen contemporary jewelry lines.
The home at 2570 Jackson (left), built in 1924, has been completely renovated.
LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY
A flurry of recent renovations along the north side of Jackson Street facing Alta Plaza Park are nearing completion. The two blocks include a string of historic residences that have been home to many prominent San Franciscans. The exquisite French Revival style house at 2570 Jackson Street has been meticulously renovated and is again a private residence, after serving for decades as the official residence of the French consul general. Read more »
Nick Pallone was the chef behind the Academy Bar and Kitchen. Photo by Marc Gamboa.
PIZZA IS BACK. The rebirth of long-running Pizza Inferno as the Academy Bar and Kitchen — with former Florio chef Nick Pallone bringing a more adventurous dining experience to the corner of Fillmore and Sutter — is over. Though the Academy name will remain, Pallone is gone and the previous menu consisting mostly of Neapolitan pizzas has returned.
“I regret to inform you that my time at Academy Bar and Kitchen has come to an end,” Pallone said in a Facebook post. “Due to logistical constraints, my partners and I have come to the conclusion that it is best to go our separate ways.”
Pallone and owner Peter Fogel reportedly tusseled over whether pizza should be offered at the Academy and it disappeared from the revamped menu. Then last weekend the restaurant closed, less than six months after its debut, with a sign in the window citing “restaurant maintenance and upgrades.”
By the end of the week the old pizza menu had returned.
After the rain, a line was waiting for brunch at the Elite Cafe on Sunday morning, March 6.
THE ELITE CAFE, the bustling Art Deco period piece at 2049 Fillmore Street, has been sold.
Peter Snyderman, a Fillmore veteran who has run the restaurant for the past decade, is handing over the reins to a new group headed by Andy Chun, who created the Press Club near Union Square and more recently reinvigorated Schroeder’s in the Financial District. Among the investors is Rick Howard, who owns Harry’s on Fillmore.
The liquor license transfer was filed March 9. The Elite’s staff was told the night before that March 27 will be their last day.
Photographs of Jackson Fillmore at 2506 Fillmore Street by Marc Gamboa
Q & A | FAITH WHEELER
Rare is the restaurant in San Francisco still going strong after 30 years. But Jackson Fillmore — the beloved, quintessential neighborhood Italian spot at 2506 Fillmore, now under new ownership — remains noticeably unchanged. That’s thanks to the brother-sister duo Kelly and Casey Sullivan, lifelong family friends of original owner Jack Krietzman. Kelly Sullivan remembers coming to the restaurant the year it opened when she was a 4-year-old and eating cold zabaglione.
AFTER CONSTRUCTION started and then stopped, neighbors began to wonder if Blue Bottle Coffee was backing out of its plans for a new outpost on the shuttered Tully’s corner at Fillmore and Jackson.
Not so. It’s still on.
The new coffee shop started before Blue Bottle announced it was merging with Tartine Bakery. A combination of the two in the pair of storefronts at the top of Fillmore seemed like a terrific addition to the neighborhood.
The merger was later called off, but Blue Bottle applied on January 27 for a building permit for “tenant improvements for new coffee cafe in existing coffee cafe space” valued at $200,000. Blue Bottle got permission earlier to combine the former Tully’s and Juicy News storefronts.
“Blue Bottle Coffee is still forging ahead to open at this location and the cafe is progressing nicely,” says Defne Crow, a spokesperson for Blue Bottle. “We are very excited to open our doors later this year.”
With the continuing onrush of national and international fashion and cosmetics brands onto upper Fillmore Street, retail space has become so sought after that corporate tenants are willing to pay rent for months while their storefronts sit empty, waiting for city permits to be approved.
A dozen storefronts north of Bush Street are now vacant, but almost all are already leased.
Among the stores in the works:
• Intermix, the Gap’s newest acquisition, is taking over Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece space at 2223 Fillmore.
• 45rpm, a Japanese clothing brand, is coming to 1905 Fillmore.
• Space NK, a cosmetics company based in London, plans to open at 2000 Fillmore, former home of Paolo Shoes.
Among the other businesses with leases on the street are Frye Boots at 2047 Fillmore and Ardis Coffee at 1903 Fillmore, now occupied by the Ministry of Supply pop-up. Blue Bottle Coffee is coming to 2455 Fillmore.
CITY PUTS YOSHI'S
UP FOR GRABS
More than a year after it went dark, Yoshi's jazz club and restaurant at 1330 Fillmore is still looking for new life.
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.
To stir up activity in the meantime, the city is offering to lease some of the public areas in the building to community groups. Book here.
COMING AND GOING AT
DIVIS AND CALIFORNIA
The busy intersection of California and Divisadero is getting ever livelier — and tastier.
• While longtime local favorite Food Inc. has closed after more than 20 years, it will be replaced by a new wine bar called Scopo Divino.
• Across the street, Tataki has moved its sushi bar a few doors west into a sleek new home. In its old space, the owners have opened Limu & Shoyu, which they’re billing as “San Francisco’s only sustainable poke bar.”
• On the corner, Wild Hare has been taken over by the owners of Lightning Tavern on Union Street. The name will remain the same, but there’s a new menu, and changes to the look of the place are coming. “It doesn’t feel like a frat house anymore,” says staffer Stephanie Mancia. “A lot of the regulars have come back.”
• And more change is coming: Bistro SF Grill, the burger joint that got its start as a pop-up on Saturday mornings at the Fillmore Farmers Market, will be closing within a couple of months and moving to Castro and 24th. “We’re sad to leave,” says co-owner Hasim Zecic. “We know our neighbors. When we got here it was just cars, no people. Now it’s friendlier and busier.”