North Beach Never Sleeps - New Offerings Abound

New Businesses Bring Eclectic Wares To North Beach

By Joe Bonadio

Here in North Beach, it has been a mighty strange couple of weeks. As much as we’ve tried to focus on our labors, the smoky, toxic air conditions brought by the tragic Camp Fire to our north has admittedly knocked our neighborhood a little bit out of whack. And that’s only natural, in a place where our residents are used to spending so much of their time outdoors.

Being that so many of us have been sticking close to home, we're here to give you a quick review of all that's afoot on the streets of North Beach. First, we’ve got the latest landlord shenanigans, this time at longtime tenants S&S Grocery on Grant Avenue. We await further details, but apparently the rent at 1461 Grant Avenue has been doubled. Word is, the grocer has already applied for legacy business status, but as of yet there's no info on the status of the application.

As a convenience store that is open late on this often quiet stretch of Grant Avenue, S&S Grocery has become a late night sanctuary for those walking home in the quiet wee hours. It's an oasis of light and activity on a block that is very dark after closing time, and the neighborhood would lose that buffer should the business close. Here at the SFNBBA, we are advocating for S&S grocery–as we always are, against the type of usurious landlord practices that endanger our vital small businesses. After all, it's precisely businesses like these that our organization exists to protect.

On a more positive tip, we’ve got a promising wave of new businesses opening here in North Beach. Probably the biggest news of the week is word that Italian Homemade Company has purchased the building at 526 Columbus Avenue, former home of Caffe Roma (which shuttered earlier this year). It’s clearly terrific news for this recently blighted stretch of Columbus Avenue. As of press time, there’s no word on whether the folks at Italian Homemade will be maintaining their current location at 716 Columbus Avenue. 

Back over on Grant Avenue we’ve got a couple of interesting openings in the works as well, among them the first music store to open in North Beach in years: Flute World / JL Smith & Company. The new tenants have been busy building out the space for a few weeks now, and it looks like we’ll be seeing a grand opening soon. The outfit specializes in flutes, woodwinds, accessories and expert repair. and this is only the second location for the North Carolina company. Frankly, we can't wait to see what they have in store for the neighborhood–and we’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, directly around the corner, two unusual shops have landed just a few steps up the hill from Grant.  First is Igneous Theory at 478 Union Street: an eccentric little shop that isn't actually brand-new (they’ve been open since late Summer), they focus on one-of-a-kind jewelry, gemstones and unusual objets. Their selection will have you spellbound, and it’s a perfect spot for gifts as we head into the holidays–just don't be surprised by the 12-foot pteranodon skeleton that hangs above the proceedings.

Just a few more steps up Union Street, we welcome a curious shop that goes by the (equally curious) name of 3 Standard Stoppage. Founded by three graduates of the  San Francisco Art Institute, the shop focuses on eclectic designer fashion, but rounds out its offerings with an impressive selection of art books–including rare photobooks, some with artists' signatures. Definitely not your run-of-the-mill boutique, they carry European and Japanese collections like Crista Seya, Edwina Horl and Pronounce. Take that, Hayes Valley.

Turning our attention back to Columbus Avenue, things appear to be going strong for Barbara, the new pinseria that took the former Panta Rei space on the busy corner of Stockton Street. It’s a big space to fill, but since their opening the new owners (the group behind Il Casaro and Pasta Pop-Up) seem to be gaining momentum–and reviews are solid. Along with the rest of our new arrivals, we wish them the very best of luck.

We’ll be back with more neighborhood news–including a report on the significant recent progress we’ve made in our ongoing effort to clean up our neighborhood’s alleys and sidewalks.