Mission Businesses Party with Carnaval Crowd

Sasha Blue, tattoo artist at Mission Ink

Sasha Blue, tattoo artist at Mission Ink

En Español.

Many Mission District restaurants, bars, cafes and specialty stores interviewed on Monday said they saw a significant jump in revenue during this weekend’s 33rd annual Carnaval, and organizers said some 300,000 people attended the two-day street festival.

Mission Loc@l interviewed nearly a dozen businesses along the parade route of 24th Street and Mission to 16th Street.

Bello Coffee and Tea, situated at the Bryant and 24th Street corner where the parade began, cashed in from customers buying espresso drinks, tea and cold sandwiches.

Barista Kirsten Moore said the coffeehouse saw two to three times the number of customers on a typical weekend.

Despite minimal damage to the property from rowdy crowds — the shop’s outdoor sign was smashed up — Moore said the mood inside the café was jovial and spirited.

“The place was absolute nuts, packed with people decorated in costumes, yelling and laughing. It was nice seeing them support neighborhood businesses,” said Moore.

Sasha Blue, tattoo and piercer extraordinaire, and part-contractor at Mission Ink on Mission Street near 21st, welcomed the massive crowds and window-shoppers.

Blue said that on average she gets three to five customers. On Sunday alone, 12 clients walked in for a tattoo or piercing. “It could’ve been that people were coming in intoxicated,” she said sarcastically. “I thought it was pretty entertaining.”

Presented by San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions, the two-day, action-packed spectacle celebrated Latin American and Caribbean heritage with food, music, dancing and the arts.

It was the Mission bars and cafes that benefited most, as the increased crowds also meant that more soccer fans were looking for a place to view Saturday’s UEFA Championship soccer game between Manchester United and FC Barcelona. Oscar Hernandez, a cook at Gracias Madre on Mission Street, said the restaurant had definitely seen more spectators come in for the game.

But not all businesses benefited from the big turnout.

Aratchahn Thammanhkit, 25, a waitress at the Chilli Cha Cha Thai restaurant on 24th Street, said service was slow on Sunday and blamed street closures near her establishment for the lack of customers.

“Our delivery guy couldn’t even find parking around the area,” said Thammanhkit.

Those who did come in mostly wanted assistance, not food.

“It’s very hard when people who did come only asked for direction or to use the restrooms. It definitely hurts our business.”

For Nasri Samara, owner of Wallas Smoke Shop, a market selling pipes, tobacco and other novelties, said that although sales were below average, he wasn’t too concerned and is looking forward to next year’s Carnaval.

“Seeing all the people coming together, all that energy out there, does vibrate into our community. We liked it!”

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