Business Briefs: A seat at Dante's Table
by Raymond Flournoy
A Castro business owner is expanding locally, as Franceso d'Ippolito, owner of Poesia (4072 18th Street) has begun renovations on Dante's Table (544 Castro Street). D'Ippolito is working toward opening later this month.
The new restaurant will feature d'Ippolito's signature Italian cuisine, but in a more casual environment, targeting a slightly lower price point. The eatery will be open in the mornings for coffee and Italian pastries, then later in the day it will feature pizza and small plates served with Italian wines and a full bar. Dinner service will extend until midnight.
Dante's Table will also feature a tradition from d'Ippolito's native northern Italy called "aperitivo." Occupying the pre-dinner time of 5 to 7 p.m., aperitivo will feature wine and cocktails with complimentary finger foods. D'Ippolito envisions the restaurant as being a first gathering place for friends, and a kick-off point for an evening in the Castro.
The location is the former home of Dancing Pig, and d'Ippolito is currently overseeing a full renovation of the space themed to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. The front dining room will represent the Inferno, painted with a forest of dark, gnarled trees, and featuring quotes from the hellish work. The hallway leading to the back of the restaurant will represent Purgatory, and the back dining room and patio will be the restaurant's Paradise.
The interior artwork is being produced by John Baden , whose mural of Harvey Milk graces the wall of the Human Rights Campaign Action Center (575 Castro Street) across the street.
A new Beaux in town
The former site of Trigger will find new life this fall as Beaux (2344 Market Street), under a new proposal by the owners of three other Castro bars, Qbar (456 Castro Street), the Edge (4149 18th Street), and Midnight Sun (4067 18th Street).
Co-owner Tim Eicher appeared before the April meeting of the Merchants of Upper Market and Castro to present plans for the new bar and to ask for support for the transfer of the liquor license and for a license for live entertainment. Eicher and his co-owners Rob Cotterman, Jeff Eubanks, and Rob Giljim are all gay.
In presenting the proposal, Eicher described the two major challenges that he and his partners faced in reopening the space: addressing noise complaints from the neighbors, and making the cavernous space more inviting.
Under Eicher's plan, numerous changes will be made to the building to baffle the sounds from Beaux. Doors will be rearranged to reduce noise leakage, sound-absorbing materials such as wooden flooring will be added, and an entire second roof will be built over the current roof. In creating the noise-abatement plan Eicher's designers took sound readings from surrounding roofs and other locations to learn how and where the bar noise was escaping from the building.
"It turns out that the roof basically was acting like an enormous subwoofer, amplifying the sound," said Eicher, "so the second roof is the best way to solve that problem."
As for the space itself, Eicher noted that the size of the club is a mixed blessing. "Trigger had the problem that unless a good number of people were in the club, the space would feel empty," he said. "So they had a lot of pressure to really bring in a large crowd every night."
As a solution to that problem, Beaux will feature an elaborate reflective curtain that can be drawn to divide the space on weekday nights when business is slower. The curtain will create a more cozy space, which Eicher describes as a "cocktail lounge feel." Then on busy nights, the curtain will be drawn back to reveal the full space, which includes a dance floor and mezzanine level.
Renovations will begin once administrative approval for the licenses has been granted, and Eicher is targeting September for the opening of Beaux. MUMC voted unanimously to support the liquor license transfer and the license for live entertainment.
Pica Pica: A 'little bit' of Venezuela
Foodie favorite Pica Pica has finally opened the doors of its new Castro location at 3970 17th Street. The restaurant, whose name means "a little of this, a little of that" in Venezuelan slang, is the third location for the local mini-chain.
The restaurant has been in development for the past two years, but was delayed repeatedly as owner Adriana Lopez Vermut dealt with health issues. The space Pica Pica occupies faces onto Jane Warner Plaza and was created during the renovation of the Cafe (2369 Market Street) back in 2009. The storefront stood empty until Pica Pica's launch on March 23.
The centerpiece of Pica Pica's menu is the arepa, a corn meal cake split to form a pocket, and stuffed with various fillings. Currently Pica Pica is offering a special "Arepa Panda" in honor of San Francisco Giants player Pablo Sandoval, who hails from Venezuela. The tribute arepa is stuffed with black beans and cheese, and then dyed Giants orange.
Pica Pica is currently open for lunch and dinner, and is working through permitting issues for its liquor license. When asked for a guess on when Pica Pica would begin serving beer and wine, business partner Tom Carlaccini said, "We fully expect to lift a glass and celebrate with our neighbors and fellow foodies by the end of this month."
Macy's Men's fashion benefit
Macy's and Out magazine are putting the spotlight on men's designer fashions, with proceeds benefitting the San Francisco LGBT Community Center (1800 Market Street), the Human Rights Campaign, and the Trevor Project.
The fashion event will be held on April 25 from 6 to 8 p.m., on the 3rd floor of the Macy's Union Square location (120 Stockton Street). Attendees will preview spring lines from major designers while enjoying a 25 percent discount in the Designer and Impulse departments. Local queer-identified clothier Jake Wall will also be presenting items from his Artful Gentleman collection.
Tickets for the event cost $25, with the money going directly to one of the three beneficiary organizations. To RSVP, visit http://www.macysmensdesigner.eventbrite.com.
More Macy's Men's
Details magazine is on the lookout for one stylish shopper to appear in its July issue. Could you be the one?
Come to Macy's semi-annual Men's Style Event Saturday, April 13 at 4 p.m. at the Union Square location, where representatives from Details will be searching for someone with the right look for the summer spread. Even if you are not chosen, you can still enjoy a 25 percent discount off of a menswear purchase of $100.
Networking opportunity for lesbian businesswomen
A new organization for connecting lesbian businesswomen has formed in the North Bay. The kick off event will be held on April 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the offices of Monty White, LLP (1000 Fourth Street, Suite 425, San Rafael). According to the group's Facebook page, "We will be hosting recurring events where women can showcase their businesses and network among each other. These events will be an amazing foundation to create new connections and to reach out to lesbians and allies in our community."
To learn more, visit the group's Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lesbian-Businesswomen/583804558298171.
Castro beautification benefit
The Castro-Upper Market Community Benefit District and Herth Real Estate are hosting an art show to raise funds for the hanging flower baskets along Castro Street. The event will be held April 18, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Herth's location at 555 Castro Street.
Attendees can enjoy wine and hors d'oeuvres while browsing artwork by local artists. Twenty percent of the art sales will go toward the flower basket fund.
The goal for the fundraiser is to raise $15,000, which would support 20 baskets on 10 poles throughout the Castro district.