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Ever-evolving vitality on Fillmore

STREET TALK | CYNTHIA TRAINA

Every time I take a walk, there’s something new. Fillmore Street is constantly evolving. 

Every stroll up the street brings new signs of vitality — new stores and restaurants, creative opportunities, neighbors meeting friends and going about their daily lives. In recent weeks returning college students have arrived, eager to fill the “help wanted” signs dotting the street. And the Fillmore Jazz Festival — everybody’s favorite street party — is coming up on July 6 & 7.

With the transition go familiar friends: Gone is the iconic goldfish mural (above) at the corner on Wilmot and Fillmore. The static aquarium was a favorite of Instagram influencers. Now it has been painted over to match the minimal aesthetic of SVRN, the men’s store soon to open in that building, formerly home to Prana. There are now a number of striking murals near Geary. But who will create the new Instagrammable backdrop to entice selfie fans to celebrate shopping and dining on upper Fillmore? 

Pop-up shops Little Words Project and Pollen and Wool are gone. … Merchant Roots is moving its Michelin tasting menu from 1365 Fillmore to 7th and Mission later this summer.

The fates of popular corner restaurants Palmers and Noosh remain mysteries. That warm and woody Palmers interior, ruined by a massive water leak, has been stripped of its long bar and furnishings; litigation is said to be involved. Noosh shows no signs of reopening.

Welcome to the neighborhood: After much anticipation, Sue Fisher King has now opened at 1913 Fillmore. Her upscale home furnishings emporium, long a mainstay on Sacramento Street, is a beautiful addition to Fillmore’s offerings.

Several “For Rent” signs have been taken down — including those for the old Mio and Dry Bar locations — but no new tenants have been announced. … Sterling Bank’s successor at Fillmore & Bush will be a sister act. The owner of Chapeaux by Michelle next door is being joined by her sister, an artist who is still deciding on the space’s future. Stay tuned.

Dr. Aja Hall has opened OneDental, a comprehensive dental care clinic at 2226 Bush, next to Mattina. Check the website for new patient specials.

OneDental’s sleek new office at 2226 Bush Street.

New eateries: Fillmore just got a PHD — the new Pac Heights Deli on California near Fillmore. They’re serving made-to-order sandwiches, smoothies, wraps and coffee from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, with variable weekend hours, at 2411 California in the old Sift Dessert Bar spot. They come to the neighborhood with experience: owner Al Alhaj also operates Marina Deli on Chestnut Street.

Kevin Chen’s intimate sushi restaurant Bubu has opened a few doors west at 2417 California. Don’t miss happy hour, with $5 drinks and sushi specials. Chen opened the cozy izakaya Nono at 1730 Fillmore last July.

Hotel Kimpton Enso, in Japantown at Sutter & Buchanan, is home to Hed11, an 11-course Thai tasting menu from chef Piriya “Saint” Boonprasarn, renowned for his work in Michelin-starred restaurants and with Hed Very Thai in downtown SF. Enjoy unique cocktails inspired by Thai and Japanese liquors along with an exceptional wine list. … Ganji, located in Buchanan Plaza in Japantown, offers a fusion of traditional Japanese cuisine with a modern twist, focusing on katsu. Also on the menu are a selection of udon and yakitori, Japanese beers and sake. It’s the sister restaurant of Nara in the lower Haight.

Welcome back: Bumzy’s Cookies is coming back to the Fillmore. The dynamic mother-daughter duo is bringing back their famous chocolate chip cookies to the other side of the street at 1521 Fillmore.

Burger King is open again at 1701 Fillmore after a fire in the apartments above shut it down temporarily. No further word on earlier reports that the upscale Super Duper burgers will dethrone Burger King on the corner of Fillmore and Post.

Rendering of the proposed Super Duper on Fillmore by William Duff Architects.

They’re drinking less on Union Street: According to a recent Gallup poll, the number of adults under 35 who drink alcohol has fallen 10 percent from a decade ago, down to 62 percent, and even those who drink are drinking less. See it for yourself: Head to Fillmore and Union Street and check out New Bar. Or, a few blocks east, Better Sunday at 1695 Union. Satisfy your thirst with non-alcoholic mocktail mixes, beer and wine. Both venues offer in-store events including happy hours, social events and cheese and wine pairings.

Experiential is in: At Honey Art Studio, located at 1981 Sutter, Ericka Scott and her team offer classes in the visual and performing arts, all with a social justice focus. Not artistically inspired? Sit back with a cocktail and enjoy the Fillmore Eclipse at the Studio. It’s an immersive theatrical experience celebrating Fillmore’s heyday as the Harlem of the West. Performed by San Francisco’s Walking Cinema, an SF-based “storytelling studio,” the show brings alive again the area’s jazz clubs and cultural history several nights a month. Check their website for class and performance schedules.

Wheelhouse Clay Studio is a new pottery studio at 2201 Sutter Street. Learn how to make pottery with classes taught by a collective of women artists or buy a membership to practice your craft at your leisure.

Real estate update: Coming soon is an $18 million co-op at 2000 Washington Street on the northeast corner of Lafayette Park. … A couple of blocks away: the least expensive listing in Pacific Heights, a $550,000, 791-square-foot studio at Franklin and Jackson. … On the block again, this time for $6.5 million, is the “Full House” Victorian located at 1709 Broderick. Sorry, no public tours. Neighbors of the “Tanner House” quashed plans by the creator of the TV series to turn the home into a fan site.

A time for giving: Goodwill is accepting donations again at Post and Fillmore after a long hiatus. Donation hours are 10 to 2 on Saturdays and 11 to 3 on Sundays. … Join the next “Refuse to Refuse” Fillmore clean-up on June 21. Meet at 3 p.m. at Compton’s Coffee House at 1910 Fillmore.

Celebrating the neighborhood: Explore Fillmore history with the Jewish Community Center’s free lecture “Glimpses of Fillmore District’s Jewish Past” on June 10. … Celebrate Juneteenth on Saturday, June 15, on Fillmore from Geary to Fulton with live music, a kids zone, fashion show, car show, carnival rides and games.

Cynthia Traina is a longtime Fillmore resident and an agent with Vantage Realty San Francisco. Send items for Street Talk to CT@cynthiatraina.com.

Why We Live Here

A BEAUTIFUL DAY in Alta Plaza Park. Photograph by Dickie Spritzer.

Bringing antiques back to life

Cow Hollow Woodworks owner Enrico Dell’Osso

By NIKKI COLLISTER

At Cow Hollow Woodworks, no two projects are alike. The furniture restoration shop prides itself on blending artistry and craftsmanship to give new life to centuries-old antiques, as well as cherished wood objects of any vintage. 

“Every single job is custom,” says owner Enrico Dell’Osso, acknowledging the unique history and design of each piece that comes through his doors.

A recent visit to the shop, located on a quiet corner at 3100 Steiner, one block from Fillmore Street, found Dell’Osso sanding the base of a stately wooden table. Antique chairs in various states of restoration hung from the walls, some of them stripped down to their bones, waiting to be revived.

While private collections provide the majority of the shop’s business, their handiwork can be found in public spaces, too. The team at Cow Hollow Woodworks recently finished restoring the entry doors of the historic Gas Light Building in the Marina, bringing its stately oak doors back to their 19th century glory. It was tricky to apply just the right finish to match the interior color, Dell’Osso says, but in the end, it’s this kind of attention to detail that has earned his customers’ respect.

Tools of the trade. Photographs by Kathryn Hyde.

“I was always interested in restoring things,” Dell’Osso says, “and my parents were willing to tolerate the mess and frustration that came with it.”

Once an aspiring art historian, Dell’Osso earned degrees in English and commercial art, and worked briefly as a graphic designer before moving into construction in the Bay Area. During that time he was hired by Ron Hazelton, founder of Cow Hollow Woodworks.

Hazelton opened his shop in 1978. He designed the shop’s handcrafted sign — still displayed on the western face of the building — and would go on to become a beloved home improvement TV host. The shop gained visibility when it was featured in a television commercial for Visa credit cards.

“I had some basic understanding of the trade,” says Dell’Osso, who was initially hired as an estimator, “but the specifics of restoration I had to learn on the job.” And while he didn’t have formal training, his background in art history and hands-on experience in construction provided a strong foundation for the position. 

So when Hazleton decided to sell the shop in 1993, he found a willing buyer in Dell’Osso.

Chairs of all styles on the wall and in the works.

Today, a small team of specialists ensures the shop can take on a variety of projects. Some of them focus on preparation: stripping, sanding and filling holes before restoration can begin. Then woodworkers conduct repairs as needed, including regluing chairs and restoring intricate marquetry. Other employees focus primarily on refinishing, using historical techniques to stain and seal each piece. Cow Hollow Woodworks is often sought after for their expertise in French polishing, a practice known among woodworkers for bringing out the natural beauty of the wood.

The team takes care to match the original material and coloring of the piece, whether it’s western black walnut for a Victorian side table or elegant mahogany for an intricately inlaid drawer. Dell’Osso also employs expert painters and gilders on a project-by-project basis, and even a specialist who solely repairs the handwoven rattan caning on chairs.

And while the end result can be a piece of art in its own right, Dell’Osso emphasizes that antique furniture should be enjoyed for its utility, too. When approaching a skeleton of a piece, he says, he’s already thinking about how to enhance its functionality: “We want to optimize it; we want it to be the best version that it can be.”

Dell’Osso has been the hands-on owner of the shop since 1993.

Through the ups and downs of the industry, Cow Hollow Woodworks has kept a steady and loyal customer base. In some cases, customers from the 1990s have passed on their enthusiasm for antiques to their children, who come into the shop with their own projects.

On one recent house call, Dell’Osso was surprised to find a younger customer with a stunning collection of antiques in a home with the magnificence of the Pacific Heights of yore.

It’s a reassuring reminder that as long as there are those who appreciate the beauty of handcrafted wood furniture — and there are still plenty in this aesthetically-minded town — Cow Hollow Woodworks will remain a vital part of San Francisco’s cultural fabric.

This article is part of a series produced by reThinkRepair, a grassroots group that has interviewed and photographed more than 40 local repair businesses since 2018. Composed of a small team of eco-conscious San Franciscans, reThinkRepair celebrates the art of preservation by sharing stories of local repair shops with the broader community.

Now it’s Camellia Salon

Yuki Matsui now operates the salon at 1724 Fillmore, named for a favorite flower.

By FRAN MORELAND JOHNS

It might be called “The Little Salon That Could,” tucked away in the ground-floor retail space of an historic Victorian at 1724 Fillmore.

For decades it was called Citrine Salon, until the pandemic forced its closing. Beloved Citrine proprietor Rene Cohen, who had struggled to keep the business alive by adding racks of quirky fashion, shelves of high-end jewelry and outdoor haircuts — a complicated trick on cool San Francisco days — died during the shutdown and the shop was boarded up with sheets of plywood.

Enter Yukina Matsui, a soft-spoken hairstylist who moved here from her native Japan some 15 years earlier. “Yuki” saw the promise of the place. With the signing of a new lease a few months ago, Rene’s lively clutter metamorphosed into a spare, bright-lit salon now home to several stylists and Ukrainian nail artist Sofiia Pidlozna. The boards came down, a handsome wrought-iron fence went up, and a hand-painted — by Yuki — sign was hung announcing its resurrection as Camellia Salon.

“Rene had the camellia plant in the back yard,” Yuki says. “And my mom, who died over 10 years ago, loved camellias,” which flourish in Japan. It was a natural name for the new salon.

Its home has history. When veteran real estate agent Dona Crowder bought the three-level Victorian in the mid-1980s, the ground-level retail space housed a vacuum cleaner repair shop. A second-hand clothing shop followed before Citrine Salon opened in the early 1990s. The upper floors, also dark during the pandemic, continue to serve as office space for therapists.

Camellia is on the ground floor of Victorian Square in a building relocated there.

Crowder has been part of the metamorphosis — of building and neighborhood — for decades. Born into a storied Alabama family, she came west with her mother at age 16 and never looked back. Her mother, Dottie Crowder, the only daughter of a World War I widow, “knew one person in Burlingame,” according to her daughter. But she made up for any lack of California connections with wide-ranging intelligence, energy and determination. In the 1960s she founded an independent real estate business headquartered in the Fillmore neighborhood. Dona, after graduating from UC Santa Barbara, joined her mother in the business in 1976. 

Before its purchase by Dona Crowder the building and the block between Post and Sutter had metamorphoses of their own. “Carlo Middione had the idea of creating a Victorian Square here,” Crowder says. Before Middione became the celebrated chef and owner of Vivande Porta Via restaurant on Fillmore, he worked for the Redevelopment Agency. With the help of San Francisco Heritage, which was created in 1971, he engineered the relocation of 12 Victorian houses. Among them were the salon’s building and those nearby, one of which housed Marcus Books for decades — and before that was the home of the legendary Jimbo’s Bop City when it was in its original location on Post Street in Japantown.

For years the block was tended by nearby resident Zema Daniels, known in the neighborhood as “One Hand” for his talent for shooting pool with one hand, or sometimes as Mr. Hands. “For years, ‘One Hand’ kept the street clean,” says Crowder. “He would be out with his bucket and brooms, cleaning the sidewalks.”

“She was such a sweetheart,” Crowder says of her longtime friend and tenant Rene Cohen, owner of Citrine. Camellia owner Yuki and Rene never met. But so strong was the spirit of her predecessor that Yuki has taken pains to keep it alive. She moved Rene’s azaleas and other plants into freshly prepared new garden plots and relocated the lemon tree into a sunny corner where it now thrives. The backyard garden abuts a totally renovated parking lot, also managed by Crowder.

In early May, the block suffered a blow when a two-alarm fire broke out across the street in the Jones Senior Home building. That forced the evacuation of about 100 residents and shut down the Burger King on the corner. There were several injuries, but no fatalities.

Burger King quickly reopened, but no one is predicting when all of the apartments will again be habitable. Given the resilience of the renovated buildings in Victorian Square, however, and the quiet determination of Yuki and her friends at Camellia Salon and her nearby neighbors, the future of the block looks to be in good hands.

Fillmore’s on sale for Memorial Day

Get a monogram on new bags at Clare V.

STREET TALK | CYNTHIA TRAINA

Come to Fillmore Street this Memorial Day weekend for the food, stay for the sales. Among the promotions: Get “tagged” at Clare V, which is offering on-site monogram services for their bags, or buy a leather tag and get a complimentary monogram. And Rag and Bone will be serving canned cocktail spritzers while supplies last.

Some of the other promotions being offered over the Memorial Day weekend include:

Sales

  • Alexis Bittar: 20 to 30 percent off most pieces.
  • Jonathan Adler: 25 percent off everything, up to 70 percent off select items.
  • Mio: Get 38 percent off many items for their 38th anniversary sale. 
  • Margaret O’Leary is offering 20 percent off all Margaret O’Leary items. 
  • Marcella: 40 percent off select items.

Spend and Save

  • Third Love: 20 percent off when you spend $150 or more.
  • Velvet: 20 to 30 percent off, based on purchase amount.

Sale on Sale

  • Athleta: Additional 25 percent off sale items, select items up to 40 percent off.
  • Alice and Olivia: 25 percent off sale items.
  • Veronica Beard: 20 percent off sale items.
  • Eileen Fisher: 30 percent off sale items.
  • Heidi Says: 30 percent off sale items.
  • Frame: 30 percent off sale items.

And Lululemon offers 15 percent off all purchases to active military and veterans and their spouses this weekend and throughout the year.

Cynthia Traina is a longtime Fillmore resident and an agent with Vantage Realty San Francisco. Send items for Street Talk to CT@cynthiatraina.com.

Fillmore boutiques carry on, but slim down

“Fashioned on Fillmore” by Joe Ceballos, from his SF/LA exhibition.

STREET TALK | CYNTHIA TRAINA

Seems like even retail is slimming down these days, with three longtime Fillmore shops moving to cozier spaces.

Shuffle & Reshuffle: Mio, a Fillmore fashion staple since 1976 known for its chic European and Japanese clothing, has relocated two doors south to a smaller space at 2031 Fillmore. . . . Mudpie, offering luxury babywear and gifts, moved a few doors down the block from the grand old Fillamento space to 2121 Fillmore. . . . Scarlet Sage gave way at 1903 Fillmore for the Cielo boutique, formerly at 2225 Fillmore, which has been catering for decades to Fillmore’s high-fashion enthusiasts.

Hail & Farewell: We’ll miss grabbing sweet treats at the Sift Dessert Bar, which has permanently closed at 2411 California. . . . Fillmore Street lost another ATM with the departure of Sterling Bank on the corner of Fillmore and Bush. . . . And craft beer haven Pizza Inferno quietly closed in April after decades on the corner of Fillmore and Sutter.

Hello & Welcome: The surge in new fashion options on Fillmore — with the arrival in recent months of Sezane, Finirie, Pollen & Wool, Marcella, Flannel, Lawrence, Rachel Comey and No Rest for Bridget — continues. SVRN is the next addition, bringing high-end labels like Marni and Kenzo to the former Prana location at 1928 Fillmore. . . . Sue Fisher King, whose treasure trove of global home goods has been a fixture for decades on Sacramento Street, is moving to 1913 Fillmore. . . . And Ministry of Scent is expanding from Valencia Street with a second location on Fillmore, bringing more fragrance to the neighborhood.

Woodhouse’s $15 lobster rolls for its 15th anniversary were a big hit, with long lines.

Dining delights: Newcomer 7 Adams at 1963 Sutter is making waves in the Michelin Guide with its incredible $87 five-course tasting menu, and there’s an even more decadent $157 eight to 10 course option. This prix-fixe restaurant was the only Bay Area addition to the 2024 California guide. . . . Get ready for authentic New York bagels with Emily Boichik’s expansion of Boichik Bagels into the old Johnny Rockets/Glaze space on the corner of Fillmore and Pine. . . . On the opposite corner, a note on the door indicates Noosh is closed due to mechanical issues. Rumors swirl about a possible connection to the Mehta mega real estate deal, which could be pushing out this popular Fillmore restaurant.

Real estate news: Seven buildings on Fillmore between Pine and Clay have changed hands since January. After a secretive buying process involving numerous LLCs, it was revealed that Neil Mehta, founder of GreenOaks Capital and a Pacific Heights resident, purchased the buildings for approximately $36.1 million — reportedly “bent on boosting the quality of retail stores” and replacing chain retail stores with locally owned shops and restaurants. The buildings now house Noosh, La Mediterranee, Starbucks, Joe + the Juice, the former L’Occitane, Alice & Olivia and others, including the historic Clay Theater. Locals are keen to know what’s on his vision board.

On the calendar: The 45th San Francisco Decorator Showcase continues at 2898 Broadway through May 27. . . . Japantown Peace Plaza’s $34 million upgrade is underway. Take a peek at the proposed Geary Blvd. mural design on May 11 from 2 to 2:30 p.m. at Issei Memorial Hall at 1840 Sutter. . . . Refuse to Refuse is hosting volunteer cleanups on Fillmore Street. Meet at Compton’s on May 17 and Pinsa Rossa on May 31 from 3 to 4 p.m., with free drinks afterward. . . . And get ready to groove at San Francisco’s favorite street party: the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival is happening on July 6 and 7.

Cynthia Traina is a longtime Fillmore resident and a realtor with Vantage Realty San Francisco. Send items for Street Talk to CT@cynthiatraina.com.

Revenge of the Victorians

The Van Bergen house on southwest corner of Fillmore and Jackson Streets in the 1880s.

NEIGHBORHOOD HISTORY | WOODY LaBOUNTY

In the 1930s, the WPA’s Federal Writers’ Project put unemployed authors to work on guidebooks. The contributor to the architecture section of California: A Guide to the Golden State, had some opinions on the architectural tastes of the moneyed classes in the late 19th century:

“[W]ealth meant even larger buildings with more and more architectural elements. An epidemic of the Victorian pestilence in aggregated form seized California.”

The author saw a benefit in the city’s greatest disaster: “In San Francisco thousands of Victorian horrors were destroyed in the earthquake of 1906; but many remain, their lines sometimes a little softened by shrubs and vines, sometimes stark and bare in their shabby decay.”

Make up your own mind. This Saturday, May 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the public is invited into one of the city’s finest “Victorian horrors,” a magnificent survivor of the lamentable pestilence the WPA author abhorred, the Haas-Lilienthal House. San Francisco Heritage is opening the doors of its longtime headquarters to host a book sale.

Read more: “Victorian Comeback II

Farewell to a filmmaker who knew the neighborhood

Eleanor Coppola’s 2020 film was shot on Washington Street.

REMEMBRANCE | ELEANOR COPPOLA (1936-2024)

By ALISON OWINGS

The sad news spread fast among her friends: Ellie Coppola died. 

She was 87, and died at home in Napa Valley on April 12.

For years she and her creative family lived near Fillmore Street, first on Webster Street and later up on Broadway.

Late in life, Eleanor Coppola – often known as the wife of moviemaker Francis Ford Coppola – returned to shoot one of her own films, “Love Is Love Is Love,” at the handsome Victorian house at 2561 Washington Street, just steps from Alta Plaza Park. The home of her good friends Carol and John Field, it was empty after their deaths, while the Field children determined what to do with it. The film was inspired in part by a memorial lunch her writing group held after Carol Field’s death in 2017.

Love is Love is Love,” a trilogy distributed by Blue Fox Entertainment, never gained the acclaim of her earlier documentary, “Hearts of Darkness,” about her husband’s fraught in-the-making war epic, “Apocalypse Now.”  

The Fillmore segment of “Love” contained a much smaller scale drama: that of a table of women talking with intimate honesty about a cherished friend who had died. It echoes in ways a lively bunch of Bay Area writers and artists who jokingly call themselves “the Ladies Lunch Group.” They still occasionally have lunch, if not as frequently as in years past. The group included Ellie — and cherished her, too. Many lunchers responded with shock to the news of her death, and with appreciation. The consensus: Ellie was kind, inclusive, considerate, generous, caring and unassuming. Only weeks before she died, she contributed to a fund to help one of the other ladies. Typical.

At her death, she was editing a documentary about her daughter Sophia Coppola’s film, “Marie Antoinette.”  Eleanor Coppola was not finished.

FROM 2020: The backstory about Eleanor Coppola’s newest film

Alison Owings’ latest nonfiction book, “Mayor of the Tenderloin: Del Seymour’s Journey from Living on the Streets to Fighting Homelessness in San Francisco,” will be published in September by Beacon Press.

Reflections from a neighborhood glass shop

Photograph of Rosalba Martinez by Sharon Beals

By NIKKI COLLISTER

In the front office of SF Silver Glass & Mirror, every piece of glass tells a story.

There’s the decorative French window with colorful stained-glass panes, made by founder Salvador Martinez for his wife, Rosalba. And a tall, narrow mirror with diamond-shaped bevels cut by Salvador’s son, German. A round, larger-than-life mirror was donated by a happy customer many years ago. Another decorative mirror on the wall came from a prominent hotelier. 

The collection, mounted proudly against brightly painted walls, reflects both the longevity and family-oriented nature of the business.

In a city filled with Victorian homes, antique window and mirror restoration is high in demand. But few businesses offer what Silver Glass & Mirror does: a wide array of glass working skills with a personal touch. From large-scale public jobs to residential work, there’s no project too large or too small for this hard-working team.

Husband and wife Sal and Rosa Martinez first opened the business in 1982 at 2176 Sutter Street. A decade later they moved to 2401 Bush Street, where the shop has occupied the corner of a historic auto garage at Bush and Pierce ever since.

Since Sal died in 2001, Rosa has kept the business going strong.

When she and her husband — who were both born in Colombia and met in Los Angeles — first decided to open the shop, Rosa relished the opportunity. “I thought, this is beautiful, because I can work with my hands,” she says. She had previously worked at a data systems company for more than 20 years, but had always considered herself a creative person.

Her husband Sal had learned the glass trade as a young man in Colombia, and had spent many years as a union worker. He began showing Rosa how to cut and handle glass, which she learned quickly.

Rosa’s specialty is antiquing, the process of applying an artistic, vintage finish to a mirror.

“Like people, mirrors get wrinkles,” Rosa says with a smile. She can give any mirror this “aged” look by applying acidic chemicals and paint. Sometimes she’s working with a hundred-year-old mirror that needs a touch-up, other times she’s antiquing a brand-new piece of glass. It’s a precise and time-consuming process that can take up to four weeks to complete. 

The result is a finish unique to each mirror, and an art form in itself.

In 2001, Sal signed a contract to restore part of the glass facade of the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. But he died from prostate cancer before the project was completed.

Rosa remembers that he told her before he died, “You have to prepare yourself, because when I’m gone I don’t want anybody mistreating you.” Although glass restoration has historically been a man’s profession, both Rosa and Sal knew she could do the job. “He was a kind man,” she says of her late husband. “And a hard worker. I learned all of the ins and outs of the shop from him.”

With the deadline for the conservatory looming, Rosa got to work and finished the job, overseeing a team of 21 workers and cementing her place as proprietor of SF Silver Glass & Mirror. 

Over the course of four decades, the business has built up a loyal customer base, taking on projects of all kinds, whether it’s designing shower doors for the Salesforce Tower gym, repairing delicate glass panels in a household lamp or installing windows in historic homes. 

Rosa employs a small team of glaziers — expert glass workers — who can be found in the high-ceilinged workshop cutting, sanding, and etching glass. Many of them have been with the company for years. “We are like family,” Rosa says of her staff. 

The family sentiment extends to their customer base as well. “This place could keep going on and on just from returning customers,” says German Martinez, Rosa’s stepson. “But there’s still new customers that come aboard.” 

It’s a testament to both the team’s quality of work and Rosa’s unwavering dedication to her clientele. “I take good care of my customers,” she says proudly. “They are the most important.”

It’s been many years since Rosa came to America as a 20-year-old migrant from Colombia, but she has no plans to retire. She still works six days a week, employing the same work ethic she’s shown her entire life. She muses that her stepson may someday take over the business, but doesn’t concern herself too much with the future. 

For now, she’s happy to remain at the helm.

Reflecting back, she takes pride in having employed people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. Ultimately, it’s the craft that brings them together. “Glass,” she says with a twinkle in her eye, “has its own language.”

This article is part of a series produced by reThinkRepair, a grassroots group that has interviewed and photographed 40+ local repair businesses since 2018. Composed of a small team of eco-conscious San Franciscans, reThinkRepair celebrates the art of preservation by sharing stories of local repair shops with the broader community.

Sue Fisher King is moving to Fillmore

Sue Fisher King runs one of San Francisco’s favorite home design stores.

By CYNTHIA TRAINA

After more than four decades on Sacramento Street, luxury home goods retailer Sue Fisher King is moving her store to 1913 Fillmore Street. She will take over the storefront just south of Florio restaurant recently vacated by the wellness brand Saje. 

Rather than retire, she is looking forward to a new chapter. 

“Fillmore is a wonderful street with interesting stores,” King says. “It has a lot of activity and was the only viable location for us.” She adds with a smile: “And our staff is looking forward to all the new dining options.” 

King looked at several locations on the street before selecting the corner of Fillmore and Wilmot. She is especially fond of the Victorian architecture on the block and its mix of interesting shops. 

Embarking on the move as she prepares to celebrate her 45th year in business, she says: “The important thing is not to think about it. I’m just not someone who can be bored, and I still want to contribute. I need something concrete to do every day — and besides, everyone here is so nice to me.”  

In fact, many of her core staff were hired straight out of San Francisco State University and some are still with her after 25 years. “I have been lucky to hire great people who are smart and contribute a great deal,” she says.

The Sue Fisher King crew is preparing for an early to mid-May opening. Remodeling is underway. Saje’s iconic green plant wall is gone, but the herringbone floors stay. The space’s interior arches are being modified to divide the store into three sections.

Shelves for her bestselling handmade ceramics from Astier de Villatte have already been installed. Those milky white ceramics were a brand she discovered in Paris in 1996 and launched into the U.S. market. Since then, the brand has expanded across the globe. 

The store will also experiment with new inventory and will continue to collaborate with new artists. Sue Fisher King staples include handcrafted and traditional items, including handpainted porcelain from Richard Ginori and Marie Daage, Fortuny lighting, Porthault linens and glassware from Murano, Italy.

When she was 16, King’s parents insisted she had to find a job in her hometown of Portland. She went to work in retail and to her surprise fell in love with the variety of people she met on the job. After graduating from UC Berkeley, she joined the executive training program at Joseph Magnin, where she specialized in selling high-end home goods. Determined to share finds from her personal travels and visits to the studios of design world creatives, she opened Sue Fisher King in 1978 at 3067 Sacramento Street. The store quickly built a following for its refined and quality home goods, including a range of luxury tabletop items, decor accents, fine European bed and bath linens, handmade jewelry, furniture and unique gift items. 

In addition to the retail store, Sue Fisher King has a thriving online business and a warehouse near Polk Street. The company is currently hiring sales associates for the new location. 

Cynthia Traina is a longtime neighborhood resident and a real estate advisor with Vantage Realty.