Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 49 / 7 December 2017
 

Vacant SF eatery begins hiring staff ahead of planned spring opening

Staff is being hired for the long vacant Patio Cafe space in the Castro. (Photo: Rick Gerharter)

Staff is being hired for the long vacant Patio Cafe space in the Castro.
(Photo: Rick Gerharter)

The owner of the long vacant Patio Cafe eatery in the heart of San Francisco’s gay Castro district has begun hiring staff ahead of a planned spring opening.

Whether the restaurant will be a franchise of the national Hamburger Mary’s chain as proposed is unclear.

Owner Les Natali took out an ad in this week’s Bay Area Reporter asking for resumes from people interested in being hired as chefs and a kitchen manager.

According to the job posting, the hires are to help “open and manage full-service kitchen at Patio Cafe location” with an “anticipated opening April-May 2015.”

Nowhere in the ad does the name “Hamburger Mary’s” appear, raising questions on if the restaurant will become a location of the fast-casual burger chain. Natali has not responded to emailed questions on if he still plans to operate the restaurant as a part of the chain that had its start in San Francisco back in the 1970s.

An email to the corporate headquarters of Hamburger Mary’s about the status of a franchise in the city has yet to generate a response.

The reopening of a restaurant at the 531 Castro Street space will bring to an end a 13-year saga that saw the storefront sit vacant as Natali battled city planning officials over a number of zoning issues throughout the years. The most recent skirmish involved Natali’s objections to needing to seek a conditional use permit to open a Hamburger Mary’s.

He had argued it should not be considered a formula retail use and thus not need to be signed off by the planning commission. After planning officials rejected his arguments, the oversight body approved the necessary permits in December.

Natali, who also owns 18th Street gay bars Badlands and Toad Hall, bought the Patio Cafe in the late 1980s. It closed in 2002 as Natali sought to make structural improvements to the interior, work which included expanding the restaurant’s footprint and revamping adjacent storefronts.

According to a planning staff report issued late last year, the restaurant space is divided into three areas allowed to operate under different conditions.

The entrance area near the sidewalk features a bar and seating that can remain open between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. seven days a week. A smaller dining area near the kitchen can be open during the same hours.

The outdoor patio seating and a second bar in the back of the space, where a retractable roof is located, can be open from 6 a.m. until midnight all week. Due to concerns about noise in the apartments nearby, Natali agreed to close the roof each night by 9 p.m.

Two other outside seating areas not under the retractable roof can only be used between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Natali had also proposed having live entertainment at the restaurant, including DJ/VJ performances, emceed television-watching nights, bingo, karaoke and live drag performances. The live music has to be restricted to the inside area of the restaurant, as stated in the staff report.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 18, 2015 @ 7:00 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized


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