Western Neighborhoods Project is dedicated to the history of San Francisco's Richmond, Sunset, OMI and West of Twin Peaks districts.   read more ...

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 516: Bazaar Cafe

The Bazaar Cafe at 5927 California Street is celebrating its 25th anniversary, so Nicole & Arnold look at the history of the building and its occupants.
by Nicole Meldahl - Sep 16, 2023

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 516: Bazaar Cafe Outside Lands Podcast Episode 516: Bazaar Cafe

(above) California & 22nd Ave, circa 1915

View east on California. Sea Cliff Market on corner.

Podcast Transcription

WNP516 - Bazaar Cafe

Nicole: [00:00:00] It's Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of Western Neighborhoods Project. Your weekly dose of friendly neighborhood history.

Hello, Outside Landers. I am your host, Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I am your co-host, Arnold Woods.

Nicole: And it's a very exciting day in the Western Neighborhoods. Bazaar Cafe at California Street and 21st Avenue is celebrating its 25th anniversary. And if you know this spot, then you already know, but for those who don't know, this is one of the best places to spend an afternoon in San Francisco. Grab a book or bring a friend to catch up. Their garden patio is without equal, and I will stand by that. I was first introduced to this spot by a dear college buddy named Max. And then, while dating a musician in my twenties, [00:01:00] I spent many an acoustic evening here because the cafe has hosted incredible live performances for years as well, which is a really long way of saying that I love this place. So, we're doing a full podcast episode on the history of its location today.

Arnold: You dating a musician of 20 is going to become the new, when the old guys used to talk about all the places they used to drink in the Outside Lands.

Nicole: Yes, you know, carrying on the grand tradition of Western Neighborhoods Project and reminding everyone weekly that I got around the city in a, a primly promiscuous way.

Arnold: Alright, moving on. Let's get into the history of this place.

Nicole: Yes. Let's definitely move on into the history of this place.

Arnold: According to the San Francisco property information map, 5927 California Street was built in 1907. [00:02:00] The first substantial business that we found at this location was a two chair, three living room barber shop, when it was listed for sale in September 1916 on account of the owner-proprietor going, quote, “East.” And another for sale ad in March 1917 noted that the business had been active since 1911.

Nicole: By 1920, Blanche Willard was running Willard's Grocery from this location. Blanche was originally from Salinas, and she married James C.

Willard in Santa Barbara in April 1914. Now when they get to San Francisco, James worked as a salesman for the Dairy Delivery Company, while Blanche ran the grocery store. Which, you know, is pretty convenient. It's a pretty convenient setup, if you ask me.

Arnold: Absolutely. And the Dairy Delivery Company was no ordinary dairy delivery company. This is what we might consider today, big dairy. It was a consolidation of all the large [00:03:00] creameries in San Francisco that basically monopolized milk production in the Bay Area, until they were all absorbed by the Borden Milk Company in 1929.

Nicole: The whole history of dairies in San Francisco is really wild. We actually covered this in a prior podcast, episode number I can't remember. Elizabeth Creely was our guest at the time, because her family history has crazy milk production history and including a overlap with the Dairy Delivery Company. So, just proving that all of our podcasts are iterative through the end of time. Now, anyways, check out this scandalous dairy history sometime. It's great. But to come back to the grocery store, so, the Willards seemed to have run into some trouble shortly after opening the store, although it wasn't for a lack of trying. In 1921, Willard Cooperative Stores, Incorporated of California, was [00:04:00] created, curiously without James listed as a founding director. And throughout 1922, both James and Blanche were plagued by lawsuits. And then, in 19, or in February 1923, the business filed for involuntary bankruptcy. Local newspapers covered efforts by petitioning creditors, like Procter and Gamble, who forced the Willards’ hand, presumably because they weren't paying their bills at all.

Arnold: So, okay, you could get a close shave here and then pick up milk on your way home from work, but we were excited to find a long history of delicious, sweet things connected to the premises, because we love delicious, sweet things. The first confectioner to grace the building did so during the Willard grocery era, and it was, began with confectioner Elton Bennallack, who worked there in 1922, while living at 630 4th Avenue near Balboa Street. Not far from another favorite [00:05:00] cafe today, which is Cinderella Bakery.

Nicole: Oh, love it so much. We just brought in a bunch of cookies for a meeting we had yesterday at the office. But, you know, that's maybe another podcast or a whole week long of festivities in which we just celebrate baked goods. And by the way, something we learned for this podcast is the difference between bakeries and confectionaries. So please allow us to share this knowledge with you now. A bakery makes and serves things like sweet pastries and cakes, whereas confectionaries specialize in candies, chocolates, chewing gums, and sweet meats, which include candied fruit and sugar covered nuts, things like that. Because this is the sweetest local history podcast around, trust us when we say this will help you understand the rest of this history.

Arnold: And getting back to that history.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: The Willards leave town and are living in Los Angeles by the time of the 1930 census. In [00:06:00] 1923, an announcement in the trade magazine, International Confectioner, shared that E.F. Jacobson had formally succeeded Jackson at 5927 California Street. So, we are now officially in the Jacobson-era of the property.

Nicole: And I couldn't find anything on who Jackson was. So, my apologies on not having a Jackson-era portion of this podcast. But Ellis Frank Jacobson was originally from Missouri, born in St. Louis to German immigrants, Rachel and Herman Jacobson in 1888. And we still have more research to do on this family, but Ellis and his four siblings grew up in Mexico, Missouri, where his father was a, well, a successful or at the very least prolific businessman. So, Herman was also known as Jake, I assume because of his last name, Jacobson. And he started out as a saloon keeper running Jake's saloon. But then, he built the Windsor hotel with a partner and local papers at the time of the [00:07:00] hotel's construction, again, in Mexico, Missouri, said, and I quote, “Jake is an enterprising man and will run the business right up to the handle in first rate style.” End quote.

Arnold: And we don’t think it's a stretch to say that Ellis’ sweet future can be traced back to his family. As was not uncommon for the time, he did a variety of things. In 1884, he was involved in dry goods and, by 1900, Jake worked as a traveling salesman. That same year, Rachel and her daughters, Fannie and May, opened an ice cream parlor and county counter, candy counter, in Mexico, Missouri. But, by 1910, the entire family was living in San Francisco where Jake worked as a bookkeeper for a liquor store.

Nicole: Yeah, when Ellis registered for the draft in World War I, he was living at 152 12th Avenue and working as a clerk and stenographer for the Western Pacific Railroad Company in the Mills building [00:08:00] downtown. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 6th, 1917, and served for the duration of the war as a sergeant with Baking Company No. 324 of the 41st Division, which is a part of the Quartermaster Corps, or a combat support service.

Arnold: And he sailed out for Europe out of the port of Hoboken in December 1917. And, according to an article by Park City Museum research coordinator Mahala Rudell, baking units provided more than 1,000 pounds of bread per day to troops on the front. Two shifts of men kneaded and baked seven batches of dough in eight-hour shifts. Each batch produced 144 pounds of bread. They were also prepared to bake in less than ideal conditions, learning how to improvise with open trench ovens and materials on hand.

Nicole: What a wild way to serve during the war. Absolutely wild. And the letters that Ellis [00:09:00] sent home to the Jacobson family, at 955 Geary Boulevard, from France made it into local papers in the summer of 1918. So, we're going to read some excerpts from this because it's one, so adorable, and two, so evocative of what people experienced at the time. So, in May 1918, he wrote, and I quote, “my dear darling mother, today is the biggest and grandest day of the year for it is Mother's Day. Gee, but that word looks like a pretty picture to me. And I want to write a letter to you, and you alone, my dear mother, from over here to let you know how well and happy I am. Yes, happy, not due to the fact that I'm over here, but happy to know that I'm coming back to you and coming back soon, too.”

Arnold: And Ellis went on to gush about how wonderful it will be when he returned, anticipating decorated buildings and, quote, “the streets lined with cheering people.” End quote. He continued on, quote, [00:10:00] “we all think of those things every once in a while. Sometimes we get a little blue and despondent thinking about all the good times we were missing back home. But then I will start thinking, what if I were one of those who remained home? You think I would feel satisfied? I should say not. I would feel like a leper and a menace to all good people with red blood in their veins and would imagine that everyone that looked at me was thinking slacker.” End quote.

Nicole: And he ends the letter by saying, and I quote, “this is why we never feel blue and disheartened for any length of time. And mom, I want you to feel the same and not to do any worrying. Sometimes when we talk among ourselves, we say that if it had to be done over again, we would never have enlisted, but way down in our hearts, we know good and well, we would do just as we did, for it is the only thing any true American could do. And I know dear mom, that even though you do worry at times, you are mighty glad your son, your two sons, are [00:11:00] over there. With all love in the world and a million kisses and hoping that May 12th, 1919, we will be celebrating Mother's Day together in California. From your soldier boy, Ellis.” End quote.

Arnold: And guess what? Ellis did return to the United States in time for Mother's Day the next year. He arrived back in Boston aboard the USS Wilhelmina on May 4th, 1919. Sadly, however, he would not see his father again. Herman Jacobson died in San Francisco on April 29th, 1919. That's just, what, six days before he got back?

Nicole: Yeah, it's heartbreaking.

Arnold: Yeah. According to the 1920 census, he found government work as a clerk and lived with his mother and two sisters, Dottie, who worked as a bookkeeper, and Frannie, whose husband, Harry Schaff, was a tailor. This is, for back then, a solid middle class San Francisco life.

Nicole: Yeah, and on August 20th, 1922, Ellis and Mae [00:12:00] Amy Barnes were married by Rabbi Jacob Nieto, who was associated with Sherith Israel at the time. And Mae was divorced, way to go Mae, and the couple opened a confectionary at 5927 California Street. The 1923 city directory lists that address and the location of Mrs. Mae Jacobson Candies. By 1929, the business was known as The Sweeterie, spelled S-W-E-E-T-E-R-I-E. We've seen it spelled differently in some popular accounts, so we want to make sure that's on the record here on the Outside Lands podcast.

Arnold: Is that E-R-I-E ending to words, that's like, you know, like rotisserie, cuterie, you know, like food related words?

Nicole: Yeah, sure.

Arnold: I don't know what exactly it means.

Nicole: I don’t know. Maybe it's just a funny way to spell the word. You know what? Tell us listeners.

Arnold: Exactly.

Nicole: Tell us what it means.

Arnold: Although Ellis’ [00:13:00] name was often attached to the business, he also held other jobs. And while Mae worked there full time, at least during the war effort in 1942, when Ellis registered for the draft in World War II, he noted that he's working for the Western Pipe & Steel Company in South San Francisco. And by the 1940s, the Jacobsons were also living at 5927 California Street.

Nicole: Yeah, the business was in business for a long time. Ellis even carried on after Mae's death in December 1946. He remarried kind of quickly, although no judgment, we're all here to live our lives, and shifted the Sweeterie's business model kind of slightly, calling it a soda fountain in the 1950s census. His new wife, Jeanette, worked there as a waitress, so it was still a family business, and one fondly remembered at least well into the ‘60s. We're not sure when the business closed, but memories of the neighborhood from the [00:14:00] ‘50s and ‘60s, folks remember that they had comics and hamburgers. You know, this is the perfect hangout for teenagers in the neighborhood, but, but Ellis was living in Reno, Nevada when he died in May 1961. So, it's unclear to me if the business lasted beyond that.

Arnold: And because we don't know when it ended, we don't know if we have like a gap here in our history of the building, because the next thing we've got is the Bazaar Cafe, which is there because of Makiko Wisner. Makiko grew up in Japan, but according to a 2014 interview, she quote, “longed for a new adventure and experience.” End quote. She studied English for six years and moved to the United States in 1967 at the age of 18, studying in Oklahoma City for two years. before transferring to the University of San Francisco, where she majored in social studies. Like all of us history nerds, she had a hard time finding a job after graduation and worked as a senior guide at a history museum exhibit and an assistant in a [00:15:00] law office.

Nicole: She's like a combination Arnold and Nicole, if we ordered, if we opened a café. Maybe that's our retirement, Arnold.

Arnold: We shall see.

Nicole: So, Makiko married Les, Les Wisner [pronounced “Wise-ner”] or Wisner [pronounced “Wheeze-ner”]. I'm, I don't know how to pronounce your last name you two. I'm so, I'm so sorry. But she married Les in 1971. They started a family and the couple decided to open a cafe to showcase local artists, musicians, and create, and I quote, “an inviting atmosphere for the neighborhood.” End quote. In 1998, they found a vacant cafe on California Street near 21st Avenue, a few blocks away from where they lived. And the rest, as they say, is history. Without any experience, they learn the business of running a cafe as they went along, you know, licenses, laws, recovering from burglaries, which is apparently a San Francisco story as old as [00:16:00] time, right?

Arnold: It is. But what they created is truly remarkable. You can feel the authenticity of this cafe pouring out of the building's 1907 bones. Its age makes it warm and welcoming. It's a little beat up, but clean and comfortable, like visiting your favorite aunt's apartment. We see all these slick businesses opening up throughout the West side now, and you know what, you can tell when a business is a concept. instead of a passion. You can feel when somebody puts their heart and soul into a place. Bazaar Cafe, run by people who lived in the neighborhood, became a refuge for people in the neighborhood and an incubator for local artists.

Nicole: Absolutely. And in 2012, we almost lost the cafe. Times were tough and Les and Makiko asked the community for $7,000 in donations so they could stay open, and they raised just over $27,000, which is an incredible outpouring of support from the community they've always supported. [00:17:00]

Arnold: Yay community!

Nicole: Yeah, I know, right? They paid off their bills, and they used the rest to start a nonprofit called Bazaar Foundation for the Arts, Inc., which sponsored performances at the cafe, but also financed concerts at local schools, libraries, and other locations. And I, this is so amazing, like, I love knowing that we have folks like them in the Richmond District.

Arnold: In 2013, Les wrote, quote, “while we know that life can seem harsh at times, and the world is a pretty crass place, we know, too, that there is another side, you have shown that in great measure, through your kind generosity, support, and love. We will never forget what you've done for us and for the café, ever.” End quote.

Nicole: Oh my god, I, when I was researching this, I'm like sitting here typing out the notes for the podcast, just like bawling, crying, I'm like, oh my god, oh my god, if this is good in the [00:18:00] world, it's okay, everything's gonna be alright. Anyways. The Wisners retired for good though in August 2018, after running the business for 20 years, and they moved to Costa Rica. So, you know what? Keep living your best life Wisners. In announcing the decision on the cafe's Facebook page, Les wrote, and I quote, “it is difficult to write just now. Our decision has been a year in the making, weighing many factors, business and personal, coming face to face with our emotions, recognizing that a major period in our lives invested in something we have passionately nurtured for 20 years is coming to an end.”

Arnold: So, he went on to explain why Bazaar's commitment to hosting music, first explaining he isn't a technical musician, then saying, quote,” what I know is what and how music and songwriting moves me, forces me to reflect, makes me laugh, makes me cry. 20 years ago, what I would have thought [00:19:00] about that seems shallow to me. You have taught me so much. You have enriched my life. And I am indebted to you forever.” End quote. Over 6,000 performances later, he felt a part of that music community and said it kept him young. Shout out to Sarah B and the Richmond District Blog for getting this history on the record, by the way.

Nicole: Yeah, without their articles, we wouldn't know half of these things, coming straight from Les and Makiko. So thank you so much. And also, as part of that message, Les announced that the cafe would be closed for a brief hiatus and would reopen under new ownership, but still in the same cafe family. Josh Johnson, the cafe's Thursday open mic host for seven years, and his wife Rozanne Stoman, took over the business and everyone in the neighborhood collectively released a deep sigh of relief. The music would play on and the pair announced that their intent was to be [00:20:00] bigger coffee nerds, process nerds, about all the little things that make a cafe a cafe in December 2018. I was very, very nervous when that retirement announcement went out and I was like, oh my god, San Francisco is losing its soul. And then, I was like, oh my god, San Francisco is actually saving its own soul. This is amazing.

Arnold: Yeah, not only did Josh and Rozanne keep the places alive, they've somehow managed to make it maybe even more perfect. Josh is from Virginia and came to San Francisco in pursuit of art and animation. Rozanne is from South Africa and came here to pursue her own muses. She's a songwriter and the couple met at the Bazaar's open mic.

Nicole: Oh my god, such a, such a meet cute. This is the best cafe history of all time. So, as Josh said in a recent interview, he said, and I quote, “we're not weird. We're just bizarre.” And [00:21:00] they've been floating that as like the cafe's tagline. Super into it, Josh. Keep on using it. I want that on a bumper sticker. I would buy that immediately. And they do an open mic, I think every Thursday, something they kept going during the pandemic online. Which is incredible. Local artists are exhibited inside and they host workshops like writer's salons all the time. And let's not forget about their breakfast folks. They have house made biscuits with curry that can't be beat. Everything is made in house and the few things that aren't are made by special outside vendors like Aunt Netties, a husband and wife team from Santa Cruz. You can also get beer and wine there. Like this is your spot, my friends. Like I don't, like this, this is where, why are you even going anywhere else?

Arnold: And if you're listening to this podcast on the day of its release, which is Saturday, September 16th, then you need to head over to the Bazaar Cafe because Josh and Rozanne are hosting a music festival and [00:22:00] a fundraiser to celebrate the Bazaar's 25th birthday. They just had their rent raised because, it's San Francisco.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: So, they need your help. We hope to see you there. But if you can't make it, you can also donate to their Kickstarter campaign.

Nicole: Yeah, and if you miss their birthday if you get to our episodes a little late, go there anyways. Please just go and support one of the best businesses in the Western Neighborhoods today, tomorrow, next month, next year. And who knows, you might see me out in the back patio eating a biscuit and reading one of my poetry books.

Arnold: And, of course, this leads us to now say, Say What Now?

Nicole: Yeah, and you know what Arnold? I'm pretty sure they serve Fort Point beer at Bazaar Cafe. If they don't now, I have definitely had one there in the past. And I'm using this as an excuse to segue into what I want to tell you again. As you [00:23:00] may or may not know, you know, we're buddies with the folks who own and run Fort Point and we've been doing super fun trivia nights with them all over town, because to be honest, you know, these folks are really awesome. They approach life similarly to us. It feels actually like they're more of a community group than a commercial enterprise, because they're always coming up with new and fun things. Like a new website they just launched to answer the burning question, is it hot in San Francisco today?

Arnold: We love this website. We don't get true summer days in San Francisco too often, although this is the time of year when we start to really get them. But the project is Fort Point’s way of helping you make the most of those days. It uses real time weather data, from a local microclimate app called Mr. Chilly, to tell you if it's hot in San Francisco. And when it is, you get 25% off of our favorite sunny day beverage, KSA Kolsch [00:24:00] with free one hour delivery. So, you find it at www.isithotinsftoday.com to get in on this action.

Nicole: That website's harder to say and figure out than any of our branding nightmare websites. I'm sorry, Fort Point, we love you guys. But we also, if you're thinking, hey, I think they read that same thing last week, we did. We're doing this as a favor to our buddies. So, pretty cool website. Help us, help our, help our, help our friends out. That's, that's what it's all about. Okay, moving on to... listener mail! So, Arnold, how the heck do you send us listener mail?

Arnold: Well, you should absolutely check out our social media presence on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. [00:25:00] You can post podcast comments there. But the far, far easier way is to simply send an email to podcast@outsidelands.org.

Nicole: That is the easier way. I always, I'm really bad at posting about the podcast on Instagram, cause I take the weekends off. I don't, I don't post stuff on the weekends because I am weekending. But I'll try to do so on Saturday for the benefit, for this one, so we can celebrate the Bazaar cafe. Anywhosit. After listening to our podcast number 508 about Beeps Burgers, Joy wrote to us because she has a very personal connections with Beeps. This is one of our lengthier podcast emails, but it's so, so worth it. I promise. Joy said, and I quote, “my niece, Iris is in, in the Sunset District, just shared your July 1st podcast with the family. And that's how we learned that we're related by marriage to the founders of Beeps [00:26:00] Burgers. We thought you'd enjoy learning that because of that marriage, the founders of Beeps are related to the founders of the equally iconic Whiz Burger at 18th and South Van Ness.

Arnold: Amazing.

Nicole: This might be the best thing our podcast has ever accomplished. She's not done yet. She goes on to say, “you see, my aunt Maude Fatooh married one of the, one of those George Essaffs, the George N. Essaff who welcomed a daughter in 1937. My dad described him as the editor of the Lebanese newspaper who also owned a grocery store and a fine gentleman, and all the definitions of the word gentleman.” End quote. This is so awesome and wild.

Arnold: So Joy goes on, she says, “Maude was the first of seven children of Mariana Beainy Fatooh, who [00:27:00] was the first of six children herself of Jacob and Asma Beainy of Batroun, Lebanon, then considered part of Syria. Mariana was 15 when Asma arranged her marriage to Khalil Fatooh shortly before he left for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She soon followed with baby Maude. Within about a year, Asma went to San Francisco with Mariana's two next younger sisters, Latify and Nazera, leaving the youngest three kids behind with Jacob. Eventually, nearly all of the Beainys and Fatoohs would end up in San Francisco.”

Nicole: Oh my god. “Another family from Batroun came here along with Asma and her daughters, the Hiders. Latify and Nazera were barely teenagers when they were married off to the two Hider brothers. It was Latify's sons, John and Fred Hider who bought an old, dilapidated mansion [00:28:00] from a pirate with a wooden leg on the same intersection as Latify's grocery store on the corner of 18th and South Van Ness, demolished it, and built the original Whiz Burger in 1955.” I'm sorry. “At some point, Nazera’s son, George Hider, joined them in the business and they opened a second Whiz Burger on Geneva Avenue and also, the now gone Tops Burger on Ocean Avenue behind Balboa High School.” I'm sorry, a pirate, a, a, a pirate with a wooden leg? I'm never not going to think of that when I think about Whiz Burgers now.

Arnold: This story has so many great twists and turns to it.

Nicole: Oh, this is the best moment of my career, Arnold.

Arnold: So, in short, the George N. Essaff, whom we said in our podcast is related to the founders of Beeps, married Maude Fatooh, [00:29:00] whose cousins John, Fred, and George Hider founded Whiz's and Tops. Or, as Iris jokes, Iris jokes, quote, “guess what? Every Syrian in the San Francisco is related and only works in two fields, groceries and burgers.” End quote.

Nicole: Oh, and by the way, Mariana, Latify, and Nazera had one brother named, oh no, what do you think? Name was George and George's great-grandson, Gregangelo's place in St. Francis Wood, maybe one of the most remarkable in West San Francisco. And it's neither a burger joint, nor a grocery store, nor for that matter, a museum. We do, we are using that word very loosely these days, but he has to call it something. So, you can go to www.gregangelomuseum.com. I have to tell you this person's writing the family history will include Beeps as a fun footnote and said thank you. We've been getting requests for [00:30:00] so many years to do something on the Gregangelo Museum and I've always wanted to go. And I'm trying to get Chelsea to go with me, but it's like, it's kind of interactive, and she's like, she's not down for that. So, like, they make you, like, be part of the, whatever's going on, and she's like, absolutely not. So, I'm gonna have to find another companion to go to this with me.

Arnold: Anyways, these were just remarkable connections of Joy.

Nicole: Jeez.

Arnold: Beeps Burgers and Whiz’s Burgers and Tops Burgers, all related in a way. Thanks so much for letting us know all about it. And when you do get around to writing that family history book, do let us know when it's done.

Nicole: Absolutely. I'm envisioning a podcast, but we'll, maybe we'll publish it for you. You let us know what you need, Joy. We're here for you. Speaking of us being here for you, Arnold, I think we need to tell folks about the benefits of membership [00:31:00] and donating.

Arnold: Indeed, there are an unquantifiable amount of such benefits. Maybe. Anyways, you should go clickety, clickety, clack on the big orange membership or donate button at the top of every page on our website. If you become a member, you get the quarterly membership magazine. You get discounts on events. You get other exclusive perks. Whether you're a member or you just donate, all of that helps support the good work we do and make available for free, such as this podcast, of course, our Cliff House collection, all the care it requires and our efforts to exhibit it, and then, of course, our treasure trove of historical photos on opensfhistory.org. You help us to keep scanning and adding to it and it's just going to keep on growing and growing.

Nicole: Yeah, [00:32:00] infinite. The benefits and the work of WNP is infinite. We are careening to infinity. Thank you, Edward Luby, for giving us, giving me the word careening, because it perfectly describes how we approach the work here. Anyways, Arnold, it's time for a new segment that is an old segment. Are you ready for what that is?

Arnold: Please. Do tell.

Nicole: I have made the executive decision as Executive Director of Western Neighborhoods Project to rename what we have been calling Announcements to What's Up with WNP. So for this segment of What's Up with WNP, I want to let you know why we're doing this. It's because people are curious, inquiring minds need to know what goes on behind our closed office curtains and our locked doors. A fact that became very obvious to me when we [00:33:00] hosted an open house last weekend at the WNP Clubhouse and folks were like, what the heck is this? Who are you people? What goes on in here? What are, what, what's happening?

Arnold: Yeah. Cause we haven't really been open for a while, but we did open last weekend as part of the California Preservation Foundation's statewide activation that they called Doors Open California. So last Saturday, our doors were open from 11 to 4. Visitors got to come in and see artifacts from the Cliff House Collection, which never fails to excite people. And, the, like one of the most asked questions when we had The Museum at The Cliff open, and even since we closed it and now people just talk to us at events, people keep asking us who, when's the new Cliff House restaurant going to open? And guess what? We have some news on that front that we just heard about. So, apparently there is a [00:34:00] new tenant for the Cliff House. It is the Sutro Lands End Partners LLC, which is led by the environmental attorney, Alexander Leff, who grew up in the Richmond district. And he's working with the Hi Neighbor Hospitality Group, which is the operator of five other Bay Area restaurants. And they will be in charge of the restaurant spaces. So hello, Alexander. Hi Neighbor. Talk to us. We'd like to put some of these Cliff House memorabilia stuff back in the Cliff House. So, give us a call. We're very excited to learn this and I hope this doesn't fall through. I mean, fingers crossed.

Nicole: You know, don't, don't put that negativity out there, Arnold. Also, Alexander, are you related to Judy Leff? Because if you are, Judy, you call me. You call me now. Those muses are your babies and you know we'll put them wherever you want, so. But yes, [00:35:00] I want to, I also want to say that this is not our announcement. We learned about this through the news like everybody else did. And believe me, everyone who has ever known me texted me these articles. So, thank you, thank you West side community for making sure I'm in the loop. Tagged on social, like you name it, meh. I'm like, yes, yes. Oh great. Okay. Anyways, we also found their website has a thing where it's like community members, please let us know what you'd like to see with this space. And we need all of you listening to use that function and be like contact WNP to get the Cliff House collection exhibited there again. That's all I need you to do. Please do us a solid. Anyways, moving on. So, what else could visitors see when they came into our rarely open office? Well, they got a sneak peek at extremely fragile fragments from the former Egyptian interior of the Alexander Theater, [00:36:00] Alexandria Theater, excuse me, which is literally fighting for its life right now. And we're about two weeks away from unveiling our new window exhibition dedicated to the Alexandria's 100th anniversary this year. So, so cool. Theater historian Gary Parks is helping us curate this show and working with our friends at San Francisco Neon to design a very special souvenir, an enamel Alexandria pin made possible by a generous donation from local film projectionist Jim Cassedy. This is so fun. It's part of like, a huge collaborative that we're, or collective that we're a part of. We're doing a program in November at the Balboa Theater, too. I love doing work with the, like this and I love our community so much because we get to do such cool things because of all of you. So, keep an eye out for our email blast and all that kind of stuff when we give you more details on when you can come see this exhibition and whatnot.

Arnold: And visitors last weekend also got to see our new [00:37:00] OpenSFHistory exhibition on the walls.

Nicole: Finally! It happened! It's happening.

Arnold: They got to see what we're calling Time Frame, which is a new exhibition that centers new work by photographer Christine Huhn in conversation with photos from our archive. As part of the series titled Simple Devotion, Nicole is highlighting Ansel Adams as a son of the West side and collapses the space between art and artifact by soundtracking each photo and writing a prose poem to accompany each edition. Plus, there's Polaroid activity. Which our visitors last weekend got into a little bit.

Nicole: Yeah, they did!

Arnold: Many people were asking when we would be open again to see this show and everything else. Which is a good question. We're looking for volunteers as we speak to have the office open, and we're hoping to do it one Saturday a month, but stay tuned, we'll get the details on that coming up.

Nicole: If you come into the office and you, you read [00:38:00] the Time Frame exhibition to, and you don't like it, please don't tell me. It's a very personal thing that I'm doing here and I poured my heart and soul in it. So just tell Chelsea you don't like it and move on. And of course, you know, like Chelsea and I are very excited. We just announced Shipwreck Week coming up from October 7th through the 14th. It'll be like Shark Week, except it has nothing to do with sharks and we are in no way affiliated with the Discovery Channel.

Arnold: They both begin with S-H and end with K. So.

Nicole: That's it. Yeah. Other than that, that's where it starts and stops. And this is going to be epic, friends. You don't want to miss it. See our website. We have a full roster of eight days of events. We've got merchandise dropping, the Great Highway Gallery reopening, which is super exciting, and all kinds of fun stuff from programs to podcasts to happy hours at the Riptide. So, this is, this is going to be epic. We're so excited to, to celebrate, well, to remember shipwrecks. It's, you know, it's very serious, but, you [00:39:00] know, there will be a rum punch drink. So.

Arnold: As always, we have walks and talks happening, including a partnership with Shaping San Francisco, which is to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Find out the details on our website at outsidelands.org/events, where you can also sign up for a monthly newsletter. Or you could just go over to our Eventbrite page, sign up and join over 400 followers of our Eventbrite pages. And when we list new events there, they send you out an email to let you know immediately. And when we did that for Shark Week, the response was amazing. We started getting all kinds of people saying, yes, we want to go to these things.

Nicole: Did you say Shark Week?

Arnold: See, I'm already screwing it up.

Nicole: Not, you know, the week. Yeah, you know, if any of our listeners work for Eventbrite, may I just formally lodge a [00:40:00] complaint that we're super bummed that you're going to start charging us even more than what you already take out of our proceeds. Thanks for nickel and diming local nonprofits who rely on your product to survive. I'm sorry. We try to keep this positive, but sometimes it's really hard to run a nonprofit in the most expensive city in the world and every new cost that adds up really bums me out. Anyways, on that note of positivity and sunshine, we're going to bring you a preview for next week. Arnold, where are we going next week?

Arnold: We are headed back to Clement Street for some more beer-fueled history.

Nicole: Very excited for that. Until next time, I'm Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.

Nicole: And this has been another episode of Outside Lands San Francisco. Thanks for being with us, history friends. [00:41:00]

Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.

Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.

More Podcasts
  • Podcast # 93: Giant Camera

    Built in the late 1940s, the Giant Camera next to the Cliff House, is perhaps the only camera obscura to be on the National Register of Historic Places. And it costs less than $5 to enjoy! (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Oct 17, 2014)
  • Podcast # 338: The Hot House

    The Spanish-inspired eatery at Ocean Beach that survived the end of Playland. (Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast Aug 3, 2019)
All Podcasts...

The Outside Lands San Francisco podcast is also available as a subscription via iTunes and by RSS feed.

Save SF History