It’s 8 a.m., and Boogaloos is open for business.
Already, those either on their way back from a run or on their way out to work are digging into plates of lemon cornmeal pancakes, eggs, homefries and gravy-soaked biscuits.
The neighborhood favorite has been on the corner of Valencia and 22nd since the dot-com boom of 1998, survived its collapse, and on a weekend morning or weekday lunch still has one of the longest lines in the Mission. Last year the façade of the 1927-vintage building was spruced up to reveal one of its early tenants — the No Percentage Drug Company, founded in 1891.
Whether it’s the spot’s early or recent history — or simply the free refills of coffee in a city obsessed with gourmet java — most customers seem to agree with Lars Pind from Denmark.
“It’s the comfort of a place I know,” says Pind, who is back in San Francisco for a visit and has already been to Boogaloos twice.
After the early crowd leaves, young professionals come for work meetings, families to share pancakes, and City College students to study. By the afternoon, the party crowd, only recently awake, arrives.
“Long-term regulars will stay,” said Suzanne Eggerding, the floor manager who has worked here for eight years. Regulars become like old friends. “We recognize people quickly and appreciate them coming in.”
Christopher Boll agrees. Though more of a regular at Mission bars, especially ones with a shuffle board, he comes to Boogaloos at least once a month. He likes the mimosas.
Brittany Lassiter, a City College student studying digital editing, comes in at least once a week and orders the Make It Funky Scram. On weekends she goes for the Eggs Flor-n-Tom.
The staff favorite: Burrito Desayuno.
At noon, a queue begins to form for the brunch-hour rush.
No matter, turnover is fast. Food is on your table within five minutes, and the turnaround time averages about half an hour, so people don’t have to wait too long. “It’s the fastest kitchen in San Francisco,” says Eggerding, running between tables and refilling cups of coffee. “It’s like a machine.”
Inside, the “machine’s” walls display artwork by Arc San Francisco and Creativity Explored, organizations that work with people with developmental disabilities. The windowsills are adorned with knickknacks from thrift stores. The windows that make up two walls of the restaurant give it a fish-tank effect while letting the sun stream in.
Outside, the line grows, and those lucky enough to have grabbed a seat in the sun enjoy a cold beer, their dogs tied to their chairs.
Other than restoring the pharmacy’s old façade, few things change at Boogaloos.
A recent addition to the menu has been the selection of northern Californian beer on tap — an effort to reduce waste. Occasionally they consider extending hours beyond 3 p.m., but not in any serious way, and Eggerding doubts that will happen anytime soon.
By 2 p.m. the crowds have thinned. A few people still sit outside in the sun enjoying a beer. It’s a Boogaloos kind of day.