Reader summarizes Les Natali Hamburger Mary’s meeting
We were not able to make the meeting yesterday for the proposed Hamburger Mary’s at the Patio Cafe space, but one of our commenters who goes by the handle “loic” was and provided this report:
I was at the meeting. It was kinda bizarre. From what I remember, the arguments for Hamburger Mary’s were:
- Hamburger Mary’s is not really a formula retail in Mr Natali’s eyes
- He will not use the franchise sign, fiber glass doll, menu, uniform
- Bring back Hamburger Mary’s in the City where it originated
- The space will be open after being closed too long
- Hamburger Mary’s is gay
Arguments against it were:
- Hamburger Mary’s is a formula retail (more than 11 locations in US, even one in Germany and try to expand)
- Can we trust Mr Natali to open anything at the The Patio anyway, after so many disappointments
- Noise concerns (there is a nice retractable roof in the back) lots of echo (big room with tile), lots of Hamburger Mary’s have drag shows, cabaret…
The great question not really answered though, was: Why did he choose Hamburger Mary’s, a formula retail ? He could open today (or yesterday) a burger place without having to fight the City Hall and everybody would live happily ever after ?
His answer was basically that he wanted the help of Hamburger Mary’s staff to open the restaurant (they would get a percentage, as an incentive). I found hard to believe that he could not find anybody to help opening a burger joint, without signing with a formula retail… The space is fantastic, ready to go, everything is ready, all the permits are done, all the equipments are there, just bring the buns and the pickles! Lots of people went through much more troubles to open a restaurant in the City, and succeed. Even the $4 toast place on Divisadero is packed, they are building an expensive parklet to hold even more. The Patio is an absolutely gorgeous place. Mr Natali did an excellent job there. This thing will be successful even with mediocre food.
Then someone argued that a simple burger joint would not be enough, we need to bring something GAY, because the neighborhood is getting more straight (and apparently straights get drunk and loud… because you know, gays are never drunk or loud). Well if Mr Natali opens his own burger joint, it will be as gay as a Hamburger Mary’s. He does not need a franchise to make it gay. He could even call it “Hamburger Fairies” to address that particular concern if needed.
So overall it was not very convincing to me. It actually feels a bit sad and tired. Mr Natali has been a successful business man, with an entourage and lots businesses (Zapata, Badlands, Toad Hall, The Mix, Dancing Pig, etc.) that have been mostly successful. I like most of those businesses, but at the same time I am wondering if the neighborhood would rather need someone from outside, who does not take it for granted, someone who brings some fresh competition. Because as much as I like those businesses, they won’t obviously compete with each other, some even stay close rather than compete (The Patio, the open space close to Toad Hall). It feels that this pseudo sad and tired monopoly is actually causing this depressing feeling in the Castro that people complain about. And I really don’t know if a Hamburger Mary’s (if approved) will help at all…