A battle of two wieners?

4144 18th Street
4144 18th Street

If you happen to have walked by the vacant retail space at 4144 18th Street (between Toad Hall and Specs in the City) this past year, you might have seen a sheet of paper posted in the window that read, “Hot dog shop?”. Les Natali owns the space which used to be home to a dry cleaner that vacated sometime in late 2010 / early 2011. One of our readers pointed the sign out to us last year and we just assumed Natali was trying to offer interested lessees a possible business idea.

Well it looks like after a year or so of trying to (possibly/maybe) subtly suggest a hot dog business move in, Natali is taking matters into his own hands. A DBA (doing business as) was registered by Les Natali under the nameĀ “Castro Hot Dogs” for that location last month. Recently, a sign that reads, “Hot Dog Deli Coming Soon!” was posted in the window of the vacant space. However, no building permits or zoning permits have been filed as of yet which would be required to authorize food service at that location.

Dapper Dog (417 Castro Street)

Dapper Dog (417 Castro Street)

Since no permitting or renovations have been made to Natali’sĀ space yet, this could be in response to the imminent opening of the Dapper Dog Premium Hot Dog Shop in the old Bead Store location (417 Castro Street) near Lisa Hair Design. Is Natali hoping the Dapper Dog will go soft? Is the Castro big enough for two wiener shops? A look over the papered windows of the Dapper Dog location reveals that the interior is plumbed and tiled and looks nearly ready to go. The Dapper Dog may already have a leg up in the wiener wars.

We reached out to Natali last week for details regarding his new food venture, but haven’t heard back. Natali is probably busy running his campaign to bring Hamburger Mary’s into the Castro at his long-vacant Patio Cafe (531 Castro Street) location. The Hamburger Mary’s, by the way, received a majority support vote from the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association back in June and is awaiting approval from the Planning Commission for a conditional use authorization for formula retail operations.

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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24 Responses


    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  2. More like a fight between one weiner and one hot dog stand?

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  3. rblack says:

    Can the Castro not support “nice” restaurants? Can we only have quick/casual dining? Fable was the last nicer place that’s opened and that was ages ago. Hopefully the neighborhood revamp will encourage more risk taking.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

    • KevinSF says:

      Drunks don’t care what they eat as long as its fast and cheap so that’s what kind of restaurants the Castro has the most of. Most residents in the hood I know complain about the lack of choices for reasonably priced, decent food in the neighborhood.

      Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

    • Matty J. says:

      I don’t live in the Castro but I frequent it for eating purposes. The Castro strikes me as a place where people generally get around on foot. The high-end clientele a five star restaurant would have to attract wouldn’t deign to take the bus or train to get there.

      Any place I go it seems to be filled with locals (I mean local to the Castro) which means the eateries mostly cater to the neighborhood. I know it’s expensive to live there, but I can’t see a lot of Castroans dining out, eating a fig on a plate (yes, that old salt) on a daily basis.

      As an outsider, the neighborhood also strikes me as a social gathering spot, just generally. People go places to hang out, it’s just the vibe of the neighborhood. Putting in a hoity-toity pinky-out joint would probably fail miserably, it just doesn’t fit in.

      As others have mentioned, there are plenty of really good restaurants in the area, where you can spend 200 bucks on a meal for two if you want. Hell, even the crappy restaurants are pretty decent. That’s why I go there. A neighborhood like the Castro doesn’t tolerate crummy food for very long.

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  4. I’m going to open a clam stand on Castro Street. Let’s try to represent the edible diversity of our people.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

  5. dbremond says:

    It’s really a bummer that the entire SF food revolution seems to skip right over the Castro. I’ve lived here for years and consistently have to leave the hood for good food. The only exception to this is Anchor. And I was recently happily surprised by good food and service at Fable. But everything else is mediocre at best.

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    • rblack says:

      Starbelly and Canella are also pretty good.

      Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

      • You can add Poesia to that list for southern Italian food (and a great wine list of lesser known but excellent wines) as well as Catch, which personally I rate just a brief notch below those already mentioned. And Frances on 17th Street still has it’s MIchelin star, doesn’t it? And L’Ardoise, Thierry Clement’s place, is still open at Noe and and Henry.

        dbremond is correct in that we have no Manresa in the neighborhood (no one does, there was a fire two days ago and it will be closed for several months), no Fifth Floor, etc., but I’m fine with that as they might have a hard time surviving in the neighborhood.

        Now, for those of us who are a certain age, if Alain Rondelli would like come into the neighborhood and open a restaurant, he would be more than welcome by at least myself and probably quite a few others…..

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        • rblack says:

          Yes! How could I forget those others (no coffee), although Catch is a bit meh imo.

          Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

        • Matty J. says:

          I kinda like Mystique, too. Sorta casual but certainly not fast/convenient.

          Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

        • Billy says:

          I had a bad first experience with Poesia (the risotto was WAY undercooked), but I’ll have to give it another shot. Frances lost their star.

          Eureka Restaurant is also pretty good (across the street from Poesia), and Mama Ji’s is surprisingly good as well (although lacks a good selection of dim sum).

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  6. Matthew says:

    And may the bigger weiner win!

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  7. Mitch Mansfield says:

    “Is the Castro big enough for two wiener shops?” Thank you for that, Roy!

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  8. One more: If both of these wiener establishments open does it mean that the Castro has been double penetrated?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  9. Lilly29! says:

    Les Natali needs to be investigated for his unsavory business practices. I’ve lived in San Franciscan 35 years. The Castro used to have many treasured shops. You could always find something unique or of perfect use. Stores like The Bead Shop, The Tibet Shop and The Bath Shop (that had the bubble machine), and many other shops – All of them were beloved neighborhood attractions. Once their leases expired Mr. Natali raised the rents so high – these shops could no longer survive and the Castro lost it character/soul. These spaces have remained empty for YEARS. It seems as if it must be more profitable for theses shops to remain empty for Mr. Natali’s TAX OFFSETS than it is to rent these spaces at a reasonable rate. Mr. Natali has turned the once thriving Castro into a BLIGHTED Shopping District. Why hasn’t Supervisor Weiner done anything to help the neighborhood? I would check into Mr. Natali Business Records and Supervisor Weiner’s Campaign Donations. Over the last 10 years (patio Cafe closed 2001) – The Castro Business District has been ruined bythe outrageously high rents demanded by Ls Natali! TIME FOR ACTION! DEMAND CHANGE!

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  10. While I don’t believe Mr. Natali is the entire problem in the Castro, he’s certainly a contributor to storefront vacancies, and I stopped believing any words that came out of his mouth about a decade ago. We will have to wait and see if any type of food service is presented in The Patio location in the future, and if can survive financially under whatever terms Mr. Natali sets up for it.

    I even wish I could get excited over the whole Hamburger Mary’s concept, but to me it doesn’t feel retro or fun; just tired. Time will tell… but if Hmmburger Mary’s turns out to be just another ten-to-twelve dollar hamburger joint it’s not a place I’ll feel the need to visit. (Apologies to the Hamburger Mary’s aficionados — long may you love your favorite burger!)

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