Castro Business News: Coming, Moving, Staying or Closing

We’ve gotten a few tips from local residents and readers while walking around the Castro lately regarding business changes going on up and down the main business strip of the Castro. Here’s the skinny in brief.

Eureka!COMING: Eureka! (451 Castro), is a new coffee shop venture from local, long time biz pair, Patrick Batt and business partner, Bill Singleton. Mr. Batt is a former Board Prez of Merchants of Upper Market Castro (MUMC) and current owner of the vintage porn store Auto Erotica on 18th Street. They plan on joining the Castro’s hotly contested coffee battle at the end of the month in time for Leather Walk which kicks off the City’s week-long celebration of Leather Pride culminating with the 30th anniversary of Folsom Street Fair. If they pull it off they’ll also beat two other neighborhood coffee concerns who’re mid-remodel of new locations in the Castro, Weaver and Illy. Eureka! plans on selling Blue Bottle coffee as well as an assortment of other high-end goods produced from within SF.

HERO StoreMOVING: Hero (2286 Market St), the new mens clothing store that started as a pop up in the old Kard Zone is looking for new digs. Things are rough out there in the retail real estate market for small, local start-ups despite all the available empty store front space that haunts the Castro. Hero owner David Wilson has been negotiating with every property owner available who has space that will meet his needs. He first tried to slip into the recently completed mixed-use space across the way from his current local at the new build Icon, but, their price per foot proved to be too high for his budget. He’s hoping something that will fit the bill becomes available soon. CVS is slated to start remodel soon and the store has been given until the 20th to move. If you’ve got a lead on property feel free to drop in and leave him the info. It’s good to support and promote local Queer businesses in the Castro.

Under One Roof Pop UpSTAYING: Under One Roof (541 Castro) announced that their experimental pop up store on Castro will be its permanent home for now. Located directly across from their former, still unoccupied digs on Castro St., the AIDS non-profit is seeing great foot traffic and an uptick in sales following its return from its other temp digs in the highly exclusive Crocker Galleria. Their landlord, Les Natali, agreed to the organization carrying on at this new local. Mr. Natali recently acquired all permits needed to re-open the more than decade shuttered Patio Cafe, and after great hope and media fanfare, the once well loved eatery remains closed. No word again of when it might reopen.

De La Sole FootwearCLOSING(?): De La Sole Footwear (549 Castro), one of the only exclusively shoe orientated stores in the neighborhood is rumored to be closing. The door states they open at 11 but that rarely is the case and crude signs announcing vacations were put up following several days of being shut. Their phone and website are both out-of-order and now another handmade sign announcing all goods on sale 50% off was stuck in their front window. None of this bodes well for the once highly Yelped shop. No one has been available at the store for comment every time I dropped by. Guestimate-keep your eyes peeled for an open sign, grab a cheap pair of good shoes and don’t be surprised when the ‘out of biz’ notice pops up.

We’d like to encourage all our readers to continue to shop local and support small business owners in the neighborhood. They’re part of the integral fabric that helps keep the Castro going as a destination and a community.

Waiyde Palmer

Waiyde Palmer loves San Francisco, social activism and punk rock(ers). His work has appeared in Handbook Magazine. SF Bay Times, The Advocate, Diseased Pariah News and American Music Press . He also has an extensive and repeatedly redacted FBI file.

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15 Responses

  1. Shane says:

    Ugh….another coffee/tea establishment? Really?! I guess the silver lining is that they’ll have ice cream. *sigh*

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    • rblack says:

      Survival of the fittest. Try them all and then patronize the best one. The dead weight will improve or go out of business.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  2. Mitch Mansfield says:

    How many Eureka’s does one neighborhood need? “I’ll meet you at the Eureka!” now has a double meaning.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  3. rblack says:

    Great news for Under One Roof. (and Mr. Natali’s small heart grew three sizes that day)

    Now if he’ll just open the Patio or sell it to someone who can use the space.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. Stephen says:

    It seems like a business cannot open in the Castro unless it is a bank, nail salon, real estate office, pharmacy or coffee place. It’s rather sad when you consider that Hayes Valley, 24th Street, and Upper Haight all have great shopping and dining options in comparison. I have noticed even the tourist look disappointed when they walk around.

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    • rblack says:

      I’ll give you Hayes Valley. That neighborhood got to start from scratch after the freeway was torn down and has that certain “coolness” factor that is hard to reproduce, it seems to just happen.

      But 24th St and Upper Haight has just different shops and dining, not necessarily better.

      Is Castro hip? No. Is it fashionable? No.

      But it’s not all dire:

      Dining: Frances, Pesce, Starbelly, Chow, Fable, Poesia, Anchor, Catch, Canella + more

      Shopping: Unionmade, Citizen, Entour, Cliffs, Kenneth Wingard, Sui Generis, Local Take, A&G Merch, Jeffery’s, Books Inc, Veo Optics, IXIA + more

      Maybe we need to get out of this negative mindset of focusing on what we don’t have/what we want, instead of promoting and patronizing the good businesses we have.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      • Mitch Mansfield says:

        Nice list, but notice how many are NOT on Castro Street. That is where the problem is and that is where we pale in comparison with Haight and 24th Streets. I think it is dire, especially when three owners control most of the vacancies for the two blocks between Market and 19th Street.

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        • rblack says:

          Oh, so our neighborhood is now the two blocks on Castro between Market and 19th?

          Pick two consecutive blocks on Haight or 24th St and tell me the great shopping and restaurants that are on them.

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          • Mitch Mansfield says:

            I don’t think I said the neighborhood was only two blocks. No judgement, just love! As I said, it is a good list.

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          • rblack says:

            My point was you can’t just compare two blocks of Castro St to several blocks of Haight and 24th streets.

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    • lola says:

      Don’t forget Mama Ji’s! That place is getting a lot of (well deserved) buzz. Personally, I think it blows Mission Chinese away.

      Also, retail-wise, Local Take just a few doors down 17th from Market & Castro) is a terrific addition to the ‘hood.

      Now if only we could get a good clothing store for women (Globba’s cute…if you’re a 23-year-old club kitten…and I love Sui Generis, for super high-end, dressy stuff…but where’s our version of Rolo or Citizen?)

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  5. Kevin_BGFH says:

    I was going to suggest that Hero move to De La Sole’s space, but I guess it’s unclear when they’re vacating.

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  6. Matthew says:

    I feel that the Casto is going through a transformation. Since the 70′s it was considered the “Gay Destination”. But I don’t think that that mindset exists anymore.

    We do have some unique shops: Body, Citizen, Cliffs, Kenneth Wingard, Sui Generis, Union Made, Levi’s, Books Inc. IXIA.

    And some nice places to eat: Starbelly, Chow, Catch, Eureka, and others depending on your tastes; burgers, thai, etc.

    But what surprises me is the tourists that come to the neighborhood. They do not stay and shop or visit. They step off the F-Line at Jane Warner Plaza. They take a few pictures of the Rainbow Flag and the Castro Theater and hope back on the F-Line and go back to Union Square.

    And even though I live in the Castro, I really don’t shop there.I go to Union Square, and other places. I want more variety. The stores listed above hold no interests for me. I visit them but they hardly ever have anything in my size (Medium) or something that I can wear to work. I am also tired of eating at the same places too. I guess that is what happens when you live in an area for 5+ years. But there is a surprise every now and again. I recently discovered the Peruvian Resturant next to Curry Boyzz, and it’s really good!

    I’m curious to see what the sidewalk widening project will do? Perhaps the landlords will think that they need to do some cosmetic work on their properties to make the neighborhood “fresh” again.

    But I saw something yesterday on my bike ride that really made me perk up! Two stores on Market: Sweet Inspirations and a dry cleaners next door both had fresh exterior paint and brand new awnings. What a difference it made just in those two stores.

    It got me thinking and looking around. The Castro feels drab and dirty. I think that if all the buildings got cleaned / new paint / new awnings, etc, that it would really bring new life into the neighborhood.

    Think about the building on the corner of 19th and Castro that is blue and purple and green. It may not be to your particular tastes, but it is eye catching. I’m not saying that we need rainbow colors everywhere. But a nice cleaning / new paint jobs would really liven things up, even if it’s a simple cream.

    The Castro Theater (after “Milk” got filmed here) became better than ever when the did a fresh paint job and made the “lights” dance and sparkle.

    I think we need to bring pride back to our neighborhood. That is what feels like is lacking.

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