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.

Read more »

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.

NICHI BEI WEEKLY: “Identity and authenticity
EARLIER: “The Majestic: living up to its name

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.

Read more »

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.

Read more »

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

Lots of chic new shops, not so many shoppers

The new Rag & Bone boutique at Fillmore and California.

The new Rag & Bone boutique at Fillmore and California, formerly a coffee shop-laundromat. Photographs by Daniel Bahmani

RETAIL REPORT | BARBARA KATE REPA

It’s impossible to ignore the cries and whispers: Fillmore, long loved and lauded by locals, has been transformed from a neighborhood street serving residents who live nearby into a high fashion shopping destination.

In recent years, two dozen new clothing boutiques have set up shop on the street, most offering single lines with corporate roots and identities. They have renovated aging storefronts, many of which needed attention, into chic new showplaces for their brands.

But one key element seems to be missing: shoppers. Most of the stylish new shops are empty much of the time, except for sales associates checking their cell phones and security guards stationed at the front doors. And very few shopping bags are in evidence on the street.

Read more »

The gathering place

Photographs, Text and Video by ERIKA KOCOURKOVA-TETUR

Half a century has passed since the neighborhood had at least one barbershop on each side of every block. Back when churches were the places people gathered on Sundays, barbershops served that function the rest of the week. People went there not just for a haircut, but also to talk to their neighbors and get the news.

Over the decades, barbershops disappeared, one by one. Among the survivors in the Fillmore were New Chicago Barber Shop and the Esquire Barber Shop. The New Chicago, at 1551 Fillmore, was one of the oldest businesses on the street, finally closing in 2012. The Esquire, at 1826 Geary, remains one of the last local businesses of its kind.

Tucked between the Boom Boom Room on one side and Mr. Bling Bling, a maker of teeth grills, on the other, this small traditional establishment continues to be the place, five days a week, for conversation, news, gossip and even the occasional trim.

“A barbershop is a social media hub,” says Jon Kevin Green, owner of the Esquire.

The Esquire's Gail Pace is a rarity: a female barber

The Esquire’s Gail Pace is a rarity: a female barber

Since 1968, the shop has served a range of people, from businessmen in suits to the dudes hanging out on the Geary bridge.

A second-generation barber, Green remembers the days when gentlemen came to the shop, smoked cigars and discussed philosophy, religion and the weather while getting a haircut.

Walking through the shop door now is like stepping back in time. With a stash of magazines and newspapers lying around, an antique chessboard and a Bible in the corner, the Esquire Barber Shop has maintained its traditional character. The steel and leather chairs still have ashtrays, even though smoking is no longer allowed.

The major change since the old days, says Green, is that now he employs a female barber, Gail Pace, who formerly worked at New Chicago. Green says there weren’t many female barbers when he was growing up.

While the neighborhood has undergone massive changes in recent years, Green remains optimistic about his business. “Things change, but people will always need a haircut,” he says. “We just have to roll along with the times.”

EARLIER: “New Chicago: more than a barbershop

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.

5 Fillmore favorites

OUT & ABOUT | FAITH WHEELER

It comes as no surprise that San Francisco has the most restaurants per capita — about 39.5 per 10,000 households, according to the U.S. census. No other city comes close. New York is fourth.

As a result, we’ve become restaurant news junkies, always trying to keep up with the hottest new places rather than honoring old favorites. Restaurant-going has become as much about fashion as Fillmore’s many boutiques, with diners vying for boasting rights on the reservations they’ve snagged.

As a restaurant consultant for more than 25 years, I am often asked where to eat. First I list all of the newest, toughest reservations. Then I send them to the neighborhood — because strong signature items will always persevere, and we have in our midst some timeless go-to dishes that can easily keep pace with any new arrival.

To that end, here are five of my favorite tastes at local spots. They never disappoint — and are very likely still to be on the menu when you look for them next time.

Read more »