UPDATED: A proposal to open a new sausage eatery in the Castro that was up for a vote at the Planning Commission Thursday January 24 was continued to next month. The panel is now set to vote on the project at its February 7 meeting.
Local businessman George “Jorge” Maumer is seeking city and state approval to open The Castro Sausage Grill in the garage space below the Castro Country Club. As part of the plan, Maumer intends to seek a liquor license for the new eatery.
Maumer had been the owner of Superstar Video on Castro Street, which he announced last year he was closing. He bought the property housing the sober space at 4058 18th Street in January 2012 for a reported $1 million.
At the time he pledged to maintain as a tenant the Castro Country Club, which describes itself as “a safe haven for LGBT people in recovery from drugs and alcohol” on its website. The club has been housed in the 1901 Edwardian since April 1983, but after the death of the longtime property owner in 2010, club leaders feared the new owners would evict them.
As part of his application process for the restaurant, Maumer is also seeking the city to legalize the country club’s use of residential space in the building. The nonprofit’s occupation of the second floor would be classified as nonresidential use.
“We feel that both the Castro Country Club and the new restaurant are uses that enhance the vibrant and diverse fabric of this neighborhood,” wrote Ahmad Mohazab with Tecta Associates in a letter to the Planning Commission.
The prospect of having beer and wine sales, as Maumer has proposed, underneath a gathering spot for those recovering from alcohol addictions raised eyebrows when it was first revealed last year. But according to a planning staff report on the project, the department has not received any opposition to the plans.
Leaders of the Castro Country Club informed the Planning Department that they have no objection to the restaurant nor have they taken a formal position on it.
Mohazab told planners that the restaurant is essential for helping Maumer see a return financially in his investment in the property and will help keep the country club’s lease from being unaffordable. Nor did he see having alcohol available on site as problematic.
“The income from the restaurant is the best way to offset the purchase price for the building and the considerable and cost to replace the masonry foundation,” he wrote.
He acknowledged that “at first pass this strikes some an anathema to the perceived mission of the CCC” but noted that alcohol is currently sold within 15 feet of steps of the club.
“Those who abuse alcohol will find a place to do so. Most likely that place will not be in this restaurant, Brandy Ho’s next door, or around the corner at the Fork Cafe or Osaka Sushi,” wrote Mohazab. “Rather, that abuse will be at one of the local bars, or in private. And for those who abuse alcohol in the Castro, it will continue to be important that the Castro Country Club is there, open and available.”
The restaurant would be built into a roughly 1,985 square feet ground floor space with outdoor dining service in the front setback area.
“The proposed restaurant is not a formula retail use but rather an independent, locally owned business. It is designed to mainly serve residents from the local neighborhood and may create between eight to ten job openings,” states the planning staff report, which recommends approval of the project.
The proposed hours of operation would be from 11 am. to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.