Two new eateries are headed to San Francisco’s gay Castro district in early 2014, while a famed local chocolate company will be unable to open its new store in the gayborhood in time for the Christmas holiday season.
Spanish tapas set for new spot on 18th
Going into the former garage space below the Castro Country Club at 4058 18th Street will be a new Spanish tapas place called Beso, the Spanish word for kiss. It is the second restaurant from the owners of the French bistro Bisou – French for kiss – at 2367 Market Street below dance club The Cafe.
“We are very proud to be in this neighborhood and we want to expand in this neighborhood,” said chef co-owner Nick Ronan during the monthly meeting this morning (Thursday, November 7) of Castro Merchants, which voted to drop its old moniker of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro.
The space had been approved for a restaurant by planning commissioners back in February when it was slated to be a sausage grill operated by the building owner George “Jorge” Maumer. Yet, as the Bay Area Reporter noted at the time on its blog, those plans were already in doubt prior to the vote.
Ronan and his business partner, Damien Chabaud-Arnault, opened Bisou nearly 4 years ago. Their new venture likely will open in March next year, with seating for up to 52 indoors.
They are seeking neighborhood support for a beer and wine liquor license from state officials, as they do not need approval again from the city’s planning body for the restaurant. The merchants group voted unanimously to back their application to serve a limited selection of alcohol.
New Mexican place in the works
Two of the partners behind gay sports bar Hi Tops are looking to open a new Mexican sit-down restaurant nearby at 2200 Market Street in the new mixed-use development dubbed The Century San Francisco (seen at left). Co-owners Jesse Woodward and Dana Gleim hope to welcome diners to their so-far-unnamed eatery by June next year.
“This will not be a taqueria,” said Woodward.
They are buying the liquor license once owned by the property owner, Leticia Luna, who had operated her own Mexican restaurant Leticia’s at the site for a time. Prior to the demolition of the building that had stood there was the Thai House restaurant.
Woodward and Gleim have signed a lease for the nearly 3,000 square foot corner retail space at the intersection of Market and 15th Streets. There is a second ground-floor commercial space fronting Market Street that is for lease.
They filed their application this week to seek a conditional use permit and have yet to be scheduled for a hearing before the planning commission. It is likely they will be approved, as they are Castro residents and local business owners taking over a prominent corner location as opposed to a chain store or formula retailer.
The new restrictions on such national chains opening along Market Street that were adopted earlier this year will not impact their proposal.
“We need a conditional use permit because the building was demolished,’ Woodward said during this morning’s meeting of the Castro business group, which voted unanimously to support the proposed restaurant.
The plans call for 12 sidewalk seats and 80 seats indoors, with a bar lounge. The interior space had initially been designed for a bank.
But after an 18-month moratorium on financial businesses opening on Market Street was enacted this summer, Luna approached the Hi Tops team about operating a restaurant in the space.
Woodward said they were able to work with Luna’s architects to redesign the oddly shaped storefront to fit the needs of an eatery.
They plan to open for dinner during the week from 4 to 11 p.m. and on weekends for brunch, lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Lunch is also a possibility on weekdays.
Chocolate store delayed
Down the street at the Safeway shopping plaza, South San Francisco-based See’s Candies will not be able to open their first location in the Castro in time for Christmas. Its planning commission hearing on the proposed store has been delayed and is now scheduled to take place Thursday, December 12.
The company’s roots date back to 1920 when its first shop opened in San Francisco but is now owned by Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway. See’s wants to open in the 1,900 square foot space that had been occupied by Mike’s Cameras, formerly known as Wolf Camera, at 2016 Market Street.
Because the chocolate company is a formula retailer, it is subject to the rules that require any chain store that brings the concentration of such businesses within a 300-foot radius to 20 percent or more be automatically recommended for disapproval by planning staff.
Yet, if there is enough neighborhood support for the business, planning commissioners have the discretion to overlook the staff’s determination and approve the permit request.
Due it its location in the shopping complex, See’s triggers the percentage rules, though the company is hopeful it will win approval.
The Castro merchants voted for a second time today to back See’s, while two of the Castro’s neighborhood associations have decided to take a neutral stance.