If all goes well at the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, the iconic Discolandia sign will remain but instead of buying records, customers will soon be sitting down to Pig and Pie at 2962 24th St.
And, only one block away, brothers Raul and Pablo Moran, whose family runs La Espiga De Oro, on 24th Street, plan another new restaurant, El Tomate, on the 24th Street Corridor.
Ever since word got out that a new business would replace the Discolandia record store that closed in early 2011, neighbors worried about the fate of the much-loved signs “Discolandia” and “Records.”
The signs which will turn 50 in 2012 don’t yet qualify for historic status and the recently passed Vintage Sign Ordinance only protects signs on property owned by people who want to keep the signs.
A few years ago, Mission residents saw the “17 reasons” sign that sat atop Thrift Town on 17th and Mission streets torn down and replaced by a billboard. Some were concerned that the same thing would happen to Discolandia.
But Pig & Pie co-owners Miles Pickering and Nathan Overstreet negotiated with neighbors and decided to keep the Discolandia and add an awning below the sign. “At the request of community members the current tenant has agreed not to removed the ‘Discolandia’ wall sign,” the Planning Commission documents read. Pig & Pie’s name will be painted over the “Records” sign, according to Pickering.
Eric Arguello, the president of Lower 24th Street Merchants Association, told Mission Loc@l that that this was a real victory for the neighborhood.
Based on the project description submitted to the Planning Department, the restaurant is expected to generate eight to 10 jobs. Half of these are expected to be low-skilled or entry-level positions.
If its conditional use request is approved Thursday, Pig & Pie will be able to sell beer and wine.
Pickering told Mission Loc@l they will offer fruit pies and six or seven different types of sausages including a vegetarian option. Every few days, they’ll change the menu. He hopes to open the restaurant by November.
If the conditional use request is approved by the Planning Department later this month, Pig & Pie will be joined early next year by the new El Tomate at 2904 24th St.
The Moran family already runs La Espiga De Oro restaurant, on 24th Street, and the brothers will expand the family business with the new Mexican restaurant.
“It needs a lot of work,” said Raul Moran, 28, standing in front of what used to be Izalco, a Salvadoran restaurant at the site near Florida. “but we’re hoping to open beginning of next year.”
Moran is already training two of his cooks at La Espiga De Oro to run the new kitchen.
“We’ve got cooks who have been working with us for more than 10 years. We’ve started training people to see what it’s like to work in a busy kitchen,” Moran said.
“We’re known for our handmade tortillas, so we want our cooks to know how to make them there too,” Raul Moran said as he was unloading produce for Espiga.
Moran doesn’t plan on hiring new staff. The Moran family—which includes five brothers and sisters as well as cousins and close friends–has kept the business going strong for years. The employees will most likely split their time between the family restaurant and the new venture.
The former Salvadoran restaurant closed three years ago and the building has been empty since.
The vacant 1,440-square-foot restaurant was “giving somewhat of a bad look for our spot,” Moran said.
Homeless people slept by the front door and there was graffiti on the walls, he said. He hopes that opening a new business “will help make it look like a nice decent place.”
“Anybody who knows business knows this is a good place,” he said.
The Moran family business next door opened in 1992. Raul’s father started the business by making tamales in the back of the restaurant and selling them. Over the years, La Espiga De Oro’s menu expanded and they now offer chicharrones and carnitas among other things.
What the brothers want to do at El Tomate is to offer a full-service restaurant where customers can sit down and enjoy a Mexican meal.
“Our place is food to go right now mostly, we want to offer a full menu,” Raul Moran said.
Planned on the menu are traditional plates and dishes such as pozole and menudo.
Espiga de Oro’s customers are excited, he said. Since the brothers started working on this project five months ago, people from the neighborhood been coming in and asking when it will open.
The brothers are now working with the building’s owner to see what needs to be repaired or replaced. That day, Moran was waiting to hear whether he would have to install a new kitchen hood or if the old one could be fixed.
Eventually the brothers want to request a liquor license to sell beer and wine but for now, Moran said he just wants to make sure everything is else is set before he even thinks about that.
“We just want to get the basics done to open as soon as possible,” Moran said.