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Fillmore boutiques carry on, but slim down

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


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.


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.



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


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.


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.

Farewell to one of Fillmore’s finest

David Johnson | Fillmore Street, circa late 1940s

DAVID JOHNSON, who took the most famous photograph ever taken on Fillmore Street, looking south from Fillmore and Post in the late 1940s, died on March 1 at age 97.

Johnson, a Florida native, first came through San Francisco on his way to serve in the navy during World War II. He returned after the war to become the first black student in a new photography program directed by Ansel Adams at what became the Art Institute. Adams encouraged Johnson to “photograph what you know,” which led him to Fillmore Street at a time when it was alive with jazz clubs and home to a vibrant black community.

Johnson’s photographs were rediscovered when KQED in 1998 began its award-winning documentary, “The Fillmore.” His work was featured in the book that followed, “Harlem of the West,” and in numerous exhibitions around the country.

MORE: David Johnson in the New Fillmore

David Johnson talks about his work at Marcus Books on Fillmore Street.

Medical library may become condos

Rendering of proposed additions to the library at Sacramento and Webster.

A PLAN TO upscale the landmark Lane Medical Library at Sacramento and Webster into 24 condominiums — which so far has found smooth sailing through the city’s planning apparatus — has run into a roadblock. It is being appealed to the Board of Supervisors, with a hearing scheduled on February 6.

After serving as a medical library for more than a century, the classical structure built in 1912 was sold in 2018 when California Pacific Medical Center moved to its new home on Van Ness Avenue. Since then it has been an event facility.

Now Gokovacandir LLC proposes gutting the interior of the building and adding towers to the east and south sides of the building that would extend to 87 feet — more than double the height limit in the neighborhood. The structures would include four four-bedroom units, nine three-bedroom units, 10 two-bedroom units and one one-bedroom unit, plus 26 underground parking spaces.

Sacramento Street elevation, courtesy of BAR Architects.

The project has been helped along by new state laws that encourage the construction of more housing, allowing developers to build beyond current zoning restrictions and giving them a “density bonus” if the project includes below-market-rate units. The 2395 Sacramento project would include three “affordable” units, qualifying it for five additional units as a density bonus.

In his appeal, neighbor Jonathan Clark challenges the Planning Department’s approval of the library conversion.

Clark’s lawyers argue that the city “has embarked upon a dangerous, far-reaching and blatantly unlawful interpretation” of environmental laws governing the project. They write: “The proposed project will jeopardize the historically significant Lane Medical Library, which is listed as City Landmark 115, by placing an 87-foot tall building on one side of the historic landmark and a 72-foot building on another side — all in a zone with a 40-foot height limit.”

Webster Street elevation, courtesy of BAR Architects.

The addition on the Webster Street side would sit between the library and Temple Sherith Israel at California and Webster, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The medical library has also been nominated for the National Register. Both buildings were designed by noted architect Albert Pissis. A three-panel mural by Arthur Mathews, one of early California’s most respected artists, would be removed, along with the rest of the library reading room, as part of the project.

Critics say the project exemplifies the problems created by speeding projects through the city planning process and using density bonuses where historic resources are involved.

UPDATE: Supervisors approve redevelopment of medical library

MORE: “Will all new housing be exempt from environmental review?

Calvary moved to Fillmore from Union Square

Calvary Presbyterian Church held its first service at Fillmore & Jackson in 1902.

SF Heritage

The story: the imposing Calvary Presbyterian Church on the corner of Fillmore and Jackson streets — which seems like an ancient temple that has stood on its plot for time immemorial — was moved there from Union Square.

Let’s play detective and take a before-and-after look.

Read more: “One Million Bricks

A night at the Eclipse

IT WILL BE a night from the past, still relevant today. On Thursday, January 11, Sheba Piano Lounge will present “The Fillmore Eclipse,” a one-night evening of immersive theater that brings to life a familiar neighborhood story.

It’s a recreation of a 1950’s underground jazz club, called the Eclipse, at a time when Fillmore Street was alive with music but threatened by redevelopment. In the Eclipse, modeled after the legendary Jimbo’s Bop City, the music runs all night, but there is also a sense of impending doom for the club and the neighborhood. Actors mix among the audience and tell the story of the club, the music and emerging ideas about how to save the neighborhood — ideas that still shape the Fillmore today. 

To learn more, visit “The Fillmore Eclipse.”

It’s still his square

A bench in Alamo Square now honors a beloved neighbor.

JUST ABOUT THIS time of year, for decades, Joe Pecora would be throwing open the doors of his beautifully maintained Victorian home near Alamo Square for his annual Christmas pot luck. The house would be brimming with friends and neighbors and decorated from top to bottom with his collection of antique ornaments and Christmas cards.

Joe died in 2020. But he is remembered as the author of “The Storied Houses of Alamo Square” and a true friend of the neighborhood. Now he has a permanent presence in Alamo Square. Friends came together at the park in high style on Sunday afternoon, December 10, to dedicate a new bench in his honor.

Read more: “A photo report from Ron Henggeler

Joe Pecora’s book debuted in 2014 where it should have: at Alamo Square.