When the P.O. was on Post

The neighborhood post office was located at 1949 Post Street circa 1950.

The neighborhood post office was located at 1949 Post Street (right) circa 1950.

FLASHBACK

Before the neighborhood post office moved to 1849 Geary, where it stands today, it was around the corner on Steiner. And before that, it was at 1949 Post. The building now houses Ace Hardware. A cleaners remains next door, but with a new name.

The 1900 block of Post Street today.

The 1900 block of Post Street today.

Ever a house of healing

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Its richly ornate Romanesque portal welcomes visitors to 1801 Bush Street.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The Romanesque Revival, L-shaped building with the colorful garden courtyard at the corner of Bush and Octavia Streets was originally built nearly 90 years ago as Greens’ Eye Hospital. Doctors Aaron S. and Lewis D. Green, of Latvian heritage, came to San Francisco shortly after the 1906 earthquake to intern with Stanford Hospitals. Noted researchers, inventors and practitioners of various corneal treatments, the brothers were also active in community service, including working as ophthalmologists at San Quentin Prison.

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Sundance sells Kabuki cinemas

Sundance revamped the Kabuki complex when it took over in 2007.

Sundance revamped the Kabuki complex when it took over in 2007.

ACTOR-DIRECTOR-PRODUCER Robert Redford and his investors have sold their five Sundance movie houses — including the eight-screen Kabuki cinemas at Fillmore and Post.

The new owner, Carmike Cinemas, based in Columbus, Ga., is the fourth-largest theater chain in the U.S., now with 274 theaters in 41 states and ambitions to expand further. A Carmike official said no immediate changes are planned in the operation of the Kabuki cinemas.

Redford at the Kabuki in 2012.

Robert Redford at the Kabuki in 2012.

Sundance revamped the Kabuki complex when it took over in 2007, upgrading the decor, seating and sound and adding expanded food and beverage options.

“We have no intention of eliminating the popular beer, wine, cocktail and food programs offered at Sundance Kabuki,” said Brian Dobson, director of restaurant operations for Carmike. “The current arrangement works.”

Dobson said his company will continue Sundance’s reserved seating program, which allows tickets to be purchased online in advance, and will continue to show no ads before screenings. Sundance’s “custom content” messages projected before films begin will remain, said Dobson.

Ticket prices won’t change, Dobson said, but there may be more “alternative programming” — ballet, theater, opera and small indie films of the type that first put Redford’s Sundance Film Festival on the cinematic map.

Carmike bought all five Sundance theaters — the others are in West Hollywood, Seattle, Houston and Madison, Wisconsin — for $36 million in cash. Carmike will continue to operate the five theaters under the Sundance name, but may not expand the Sundance brand, according to statements both firms issued announcing the deal.

Neither local Sundance spokesperson Nancy Gribler nor Kabuki general manager Michael Spring responded to repeated requests for information about any effects of the sale on the Kabuki’s operations. Spring was said to be on a long conference call with his new bosses in Georgia.

Uncle Nick takes charge at Dino’s

Photograph of Nick Nickolas by Daniel Bahmani

Photograph of Nick Nickolas by Daniel Bahmani

By CHRIS BARNETT

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.

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It all started with a tomato sandwich

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FIRST PERSON | JOANNE WEIR

When I was 6 years old, a feisty little thing with a mop of red hair spiraling every which way, my mom made me a simple sandwich for lunch. Not peanut butter and jelly or tuna fish salad, mind you; my mom was a professional chef, after all. Mom’s version of simple was her tomato sandwich: homemade white bread, homemade mayonnaise and a ripe sweet red tomato plucked fresh from her garden.

As Mom arranged tomato slices, still warm from the sun, atop a generous slathering of mayonnaise, she looked me in the eyes and said: “Whenever you eat or cook tomatoes, they need a sprinkle of salt. Salt brings out the sweetness and acidity.” I watched closely, tummy grumbling, as she liberally dusted the sliced tomato with kosher salt.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was a kid; I just wanted to eat my lunch. But looking back, I think my lifelong love affair with food may have begun in that precise moment. Little did I know how right my mom was, or how often I’d think of her sage advice while cooking or teaching. But I swear it comes up in almost every single class I teach, and I tell the tale and pass her wisdom along. Read more »

Back home for the holidays

LOCALS | THOMAS REYNOLDS

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.”

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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.

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Grand in a very Victorian way

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LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The Payne Mansion at 1409 Sutter Street, on the south side of Sutter between Franklin and Gough, is a distinctly visual reminder of the city’s Victorian past. Recently renovated to accommodate the boutique Payne Mansion Hotel, the building was constructed in 1881 and survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. It was designed by the architectural collaboration of two brothers-in-law, William F. Curlett and Theodore Eisen.

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Diary paints life as an internee

Daisy and Yonekazu Satoda in their apartment in Japantown.

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.

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Pizza is only a slice of the Academy

Photograph of Academy chef Nick Pallone by Marc Gamboa

Photograph of Academy Bar and Kitchen chef Nick Pallone by Marc Gamboa

By FAITH WHEELER

Nick Pallone is being interviewed, juggling phone calls from business partners and purveyors while a vendor waits patiently to discuss the possibilities of adding more wine to the list. That night the restaurant would have its first dinner service and the benches were still tacky from the last coat of black paint.

Such is the drama of a restaurateur’s life: multitasking, flying seat-of-the-pants and concentrating on the thousands of details it takes to open. Luckily for Pallone, his new restaurant, the Academy Bar and Kitchen, is in the space of an old one — the 21-year-old Pizza Inferno, on the corner of Fillmore and Sutter Streets.

Pallone would often eat with his kitchen staff at the pizza joint after working at Florio, the spot two blocks up Fillmore where he was executive chef for the past four years. Pallone is an Italian food purist, who fought for a pasta machine at Florio to ensure all pasta was freshly made. From Italian American roots, his fondest food memories were watching his Grandma Pallone form the gnocchi for their bountiful Sunday feasts. It didn’t take long for Peter Fogel, Pizza Inferno’s owner, to ask Pallone to become a partner and reinvent the restaurant. An alliance was formed.

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Rising from the ashes

Glenda Queen and Terry Brumbaugh founded Union Street Goldsmith in 1976.

Glenda Queen and Terry Brumbaugh founded Union Street Goldsmith in 1976.

By JENNIFER BLOT

For a small retailer to survive in San Francisco for 40 years — and rebound from earthquake and fire — takes something more than luck. For Union Street Goldsmith, scheduled to reopen November 14 after a fire in early June shut down its longtime Union Street home, the key to longevity is no mystery. It’s having loyal customers.

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