Humpday Castro Business Briefs

Business Briefs

Monday brought the opening of two highly anticipated Castro businesses. Réveille Coffee on 18th Street near the Mix and Gyro Xpress at the high turnover location on 18th and Castro formerly known as K*Pop.

Scouting around the Castro we found a few more business items of note.

Health smoothies below Fitness SF

Green Surge Coming SoonThe space below Fitness SF (2301 Market Street) at Noe and Market (not the place Weaver’s Coffee & Tea will occupy) is set to be filled again this time with an organic smoothie shop named Green Surge. Green Surge specializes in hand-crafted, seasonal, all natural organic smoothies and cleanses. Smoothies will even come served with a kale salad if one so wishes. This shop, when finished, would be an excellent stop before or after the gym for Fitness SF gym-goers. A match made in heaven? We’ll see.

Real estate office at Industrialists spot

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The old-Industrialists location (2201 Market Street) had the covers taken off the windows for a brief time. It was long enough to get a picture of what will be going in. I snapped a few photos before some of the setup guys gave me dirty looks. The space will be the new home of Catarra Real Estate. I checked the company’s website and confirmed that they have listed 2201 Market Street as their “flagship location.” Being at the center of so much newly developed real estate at nearly every corner of 15th, Sanchez, and Market, I’m sure they will get a lot of foot traffic from people curious about these upcoming properties.

Beauty shop closing

L’Occitane at 556 Castro Street is set to close by the end of the month according to an anonymous source from a local merchants association. If the beauty shop does close it will be the second beauty shop in the Castro to close since the beginning of the new year following The Body Shop.

Hamburger Mary’s at Patio Cafe spot?

A reader kindly linked us to a PDF from the SF Planning Department which is a response to a request from Les Natali, owner of the Toad Hall and Badlands, to find out if he can open a Hamburger Mary’s in his defunct/perpetually vacant Patio Cafe space (531 Castro Street). The Planning Department let Natali know that he would need to file a Conditional Use Authorization as a Hamburger Mary’s franchise location would be considered “formula retail.” The letter of determination doesn’t confirm that the restaurant is going to happen, merely that Natali is considering it and finding out from the city what would be required of him. We’ll follow this.

Thanks to Biscuit tipster Brian W.!

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about politics, camping, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Mark Vogel says:

    Thank you for the updates. A very busy week of activity, indeed! I can hear the murmuring already: “Does the Castro really need another real estate office? Wouldn’t Starbucks have been better?” Perhaps. That’s water under the bridge. At least the space is being renovated and put to use.

    As for Natali’s Hamburger Mary idea, is this 1994?! What an antiquated concept. I thought there was rumor of a home-style BBQ with patio and folks speculated only the Patio would match that description. I thought I read it here but I can’t find it in the archives. There’s no way a formula retail concept is going to get approved for that space.

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  2. Joe says:

    I have to wonder how long the ‘Roided Jackovic’s Brothers will allow the Smoothies to stay open? If it ever opens. Castro Bistro last about 2 hours. And 10+ months and 4 more coffee places already open, what happened to Weaver??

    We have a better chance of Michael Petrilis finally shutting the fuck up about Gilbert Bakers art installation at Harvey Milk Plaza, then Lester doing anything with the Patio. Hamburger Mary’s? Classy. Didn’t Les(s of a man) say HE was going to reopen the patio just as soon as he got thru planning? Lying sack of face lifted, dyed hair shit. Remember kids, plenty of places to get a cocktail in the neighborhood, BOYCOTT BADLANDS and TOAD HALL

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    • Hey Joe, I feel your pain, but please let’s refrain from letting anger get the best of us and resorting to name calling. I think some of your points are valid, but I do not want the comments section of my blog turning into a place where people can bash other people. Stick to the facts and no name calling.

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      • Joe says:

        Sorry Roy,
        It just feels like we are promised something and then nothing happens. Or we hear the same old complaints/stories, over and over, and over, until I just want to scream! I allowed my frustration get the best of me. I apologizes.

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    • sjg says:

      The Weaver project is currently pending approval by the Planning Department. Project signs are already posted in the windows

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  3. MCon says:

    Hey, I’m no Les fan. But as a former member of MUMC (local merchants) I do keep up with what is going on. And it’s been the city that has kept the Patio Cafe empty, not Les. He’s filed no less than 6 proposals with the city, just like this Hamburger Mary’s one, and they’ve shot him down. And they will probably kill the Mary’s deal since they consider it a chain. Even though there are like 3 left in the world. If we, as a neighborhood keep restrictions so tight on what comes into the Castro, nothing will ever go in there. Granted, I don’t want a “chain” like McDonalds or Chevy’s. But a mini, tiny, gay chain like Mary’s that also does music and entertainment, why the hell not?

    And I was just saying to my partner the other day, “How many friggin’ coffee places can possibly open up in one neighborhood?” But also, I find it hypocritical that we can tell Starbucks, “No, you can’t have a second location in the Castro (on Market), and then turn around and approve 4 more coffee spaces in the 6 months? Why?

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    • Elsewhere says:

      Yet restaurants open in the Castro with some sort of regularity, don’t they? If Mr. Natali can’t get through the process of opening a restaurant after six or so attempts and 20 years, perhaps he’s just not very good at it. The idea that the city has a vested interest in keeping the space closed and unoccupied makes no sense, but Mr. Natali can take the price of the lease money that he’s not receiving for the vacant space off of his business taxes.

      If you follow the money, it usually leads to the problem.

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      • Kevin_BGFH says:

        If I recall correctly, I believe the BAR reported that there’s at least one Planning Commissioner who votes down anything with Les’ name on it. I’m assuming it’s bad blood from the Badlands boycott days.

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        • Elsewhere says:

          The only boycott that comes to mind was in (I think) 2005 and cited alleged discrimination against African Americans; and the suit ended up being dropped after a settlement was reached. (If I’m remembering that wrong, please feel free to correct me.)

          So if that’s the reason for the last nine years of Mr. Natali not getting permits, what would be the reason for his failure to obtain permits for the first eleven years? And again, how can so many other restaurateurs successfully game a difficult system, but Mr. Natali can’t?

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  4. mjohnsonsf says:

    Oh boy! With L’Occitane closing, we can get another coffee shop! YAY!

    (totally joking here).

    C’mon Castro, let’s get some fun, interesting, unique totally San Francisco places in these shops and support them!

    It feels like the Castro has more empty store fronts per area than any other area in the city.

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    • Joe says:

      What would you suggest? I know plenty of entrepreneurs who just can’t figure out what would make money.

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      • mjohnsonsf says:

        Perhaps look to other neighborhoods that are thriving? Noe, Valencia for example.

        I think the widening of the sidewalk will help with foot traffic, but the neighborhood will be jacked until it’s completed. I am already dreading Castro between 17 – 19th.

        I just hope with the widening of the sidewalk we don’t become Disneyland with the rainbow crosswalks or glitter sidewalks.

        But truthfully, the only thing that draws the money spending tourists to the neighborhood is the Castro Theater and the giant Rainbow Flag. I have witnessed them get off the F-Line, take a picure of the flag and the theater and hope back on the F and go back to Union Square.

        We need a mix of shops that locals will go to and ones that the tourists will spend their money in.

        And coffee shops, Thai resturants, Nail Salons and Porn shops ain’t cutting it.

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    • sjg says:

      Maybe a pharmacy with a gourmet coffee bar will open in it’s place

      Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  5. Elsewhere says:

    And a friend of mine went into Réveille Coffee and asked how the shop’s name was being pronounced, and he was told it reh-VAY, which they believe to be the correct French pronunciation. (I’ll leave that argument for others.)

    Réveille also has breakfast and lunch items, including morning toast with peanut butter and jelly for only $4.50. See

    There are evidently more people with four and half dollars to spend on PB on toast than I ever would have guessed.

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  6. Don says:

    Hamburger Mary’s originated in SF and I like the idea of bringing it back home (particularly given the sad/absentee alternatives). I actually thought the former “Home” space on Market at Church would be a location for something like this. I hate to say it, but we are not ABOVE drag queens serving burgers and wings while flirting with us and bitching about the table across from us. This is not NY (yet) after all. The concept is old but it doesn’t have to be “tired” if thought through carefully and funded properly…. but I’m not sure I’d trust the execution of it with Natali involved. It would need to be “fresh”, as original as a “chain” could be, retro-modernish and have a prominent bar component (up front of course). I say, bring back the over-the-top kitsch (tastefully done of course), add some extra estrogen and stir my themey cocktail already!

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  7. Pickles says:

    Everybody wants more independent businesses (as do I) but the reality is that landlords get delicious, addicting tax write-offs for keeping commercial spaces empty. I don’t quite get it but in general, people like Les Natali can write off what they would be getting in rent today against what they last recieved when the former tenants leased. It’s too complicated for me to perfectly articulate but places like The Patio, Injeanious- are offered at over-market lease rates combined with zero motivation to lease for less.

    I’m not anti-landlord but I’m anti-jerk and some landlords are just that. The good news might be that with every new building going up along Market, there will be a swell of commercial inventory (again, all the developer/landlords will enjoy vacancy write-offs). All of those new retail spaces will have no-formula business bans, so perhaps, we’ll have a commerical renter’s market and there will be some bargaining power for independent retailers… one can hope.

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    • sjg says:

      A “no formula” business ban” does not exist as stated. It is more accurate to call it a restriction.

      Any new or existing commercial spaces are subject to the same formula retail restrictions as any other space. This regulation has been implemented for most of the Octavia-Market corridor (including Castro Street). Formula retail can still submit location project proposals, but the project is submitted under a “Conditional Use” permit application. This process allows community input on the project before final approval. Under the current system some projects will win approval (See’s Candies) others will not (Starbuck’s/Chipotle)

      Any chain with 11 U.S.. locations or less is exempt from the current restriction. The current regulation also exempts foreign locations from being included in the count.(this is why Illy was able to win approval, because it’s 1000+ foreign locations were exempt from a location count). This loop hole has been extremely controversial. A good example is the battle in the Mission against the opening of a Jack Spade location. Although the Jack Spade division had only 9 locations,it’s parent company (Fifth and Pacific) operates hundreds of stores under different labels(Kate Spade,Lucky Brand)

      Ultimately, there is still the ability of formula retail to open stores in the Castro,the process is just more challenging. I do not believe there will be much movement on leasing cost. The builders of the new apartment building on 15/Market have submitted a proposal to create a food market featuring local merchants. It will be interesting to see if their commitment to local merchants will result in lower rents.

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      • Patrick says:

        I thought they had closed ithe international loop hole.

        Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

        • sjg says:

          As far as I am aware, the adjustment in policy to include a count of foreign locations is still under consideration. I haven’t received any information indicating the policy has been formally implemented.

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  8. loic says:

    Now that is clever. By proposing a formula retail, he could later claim that the neighborhood association is responsible for the delay and/or rejection, and buy him even more time. He should have ask for McDonald’s that would have actually been funnier. But by choosing Hamburger Mary’s it is actually more controversial.

    Hamburger Mary comes from San Francisco (SOMA 1972). It has been resurrected in 2007 by some gay(-friendly) people, and it is doing fairly well (at least 14 locations in US). The franchise tries to expand internationally (one in Berlin). Drag shows are part of the franchise package.

    I am wondering if Hamburger Mary’s will get the profits on the bar (allegedly the contentious point before to get someone interested on the place).

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    • sjg says:

      The Hamburger Mary franchisee application does request information regarding liquor license. They may require a cut of the bar sales as part of the fees the franchisee will pay. Probably in addition to the percentage of restaurant sales and annual licence fees
      Whether they take a cut of the liquor is probably a key part of the negotiation.

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  9. Mitch Mansfield says:

    Oh the hangovers I used to nurse at the old Hamburger Mary’s. Miss that place, and the original Stud. Back in the days when gay men were the only folks you saw walking around SOMA late at night.

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  1. February 18, 2014

    […] reported two weeks ago that Les Natali  requested a letter of determination from the SF Planning Department to find out […]

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  2. March 4, 2014

    […] Surge, the health smoothie and salad place we mentioned in our previous business brief located underneath Fitness SF (2301 Market Street), is now open (and has been for a week or so). We […]

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  3. March 26, 2014

    […] seems to be a tough business in the Castro recently. Beauty stores The Body Shop and L’occitane were just shuttered. Hopefully Dermalogica can persist where others have recently […]

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