Since coming to the Mission in 2008, Yaron Milgrom has talked passionately about his “local” ethos.
He makes it a priority for locals to eat at his 24th Street restaurant, Local: Mission Eatery. He is also involved in the community; last summer he took students from a college preparedness program on field trips to learn about agriculture and their neighborhood.
So it came as a surprise to him when some neighbors at a community meeting on Tuesday night cast him as outsider looking to make money at the expense of the neighborhood.
The meeting was held so neighbors could voice their concerns about Milgrom’s plans to open a restaurant across the street from his apartment at 23rd and Bryant streets.
The proposed 590-square-feet restaurant, Local’s Corner, would serve beer and wine and offer seating in the front. The Planning Commission tabled consideration of the project last week after Supervisor David Campos requested time to hold a meeting with neighbors.
“The more dialogue there is, the more people that support your project, the more it would help your business be successful,” Campos told Milgrom at the neighborhood meeting.
About 50 neighbors crowded the Million Fishes art gallery for the community meeting. Many supported Milgrom’s plan, but others were concerned that a restaurant would create more parking problems and noise in a residential neighborhood.
“We want to keep the corner a residential corner,” said Jessy Jones, who lives across the street from the proposed restaurant. “We like it quiet, we want a business that has a lower environmental impact in the neighborhood.”
Many neighbors were more supportive.
“The fact that he is investing back in the neighborhood is inspiring to me,” a woman in the audience said.
Some neighbors suggested that Milgrom turn the spot into a café that would bring fewer “outsiders” into the neighborhood. Others were concerned about additional noise from the crowds that would be attracted if the restaurant gets a good review from the San Francisco Chronicle.
Milgrom expects most customers to come from within the neighborhood, as they do at Local: Mission Eatery. The majority of his staff and about 80 percent of his customers are from the 94110 zip code, he said.
Other neighbors were upset that the meeting was held only after neighbors complained.
Brittany Bendix, the planner handling the project, said that community meetings are automatically triggered on bigger projects but not for those the size of Milgrom’s restaurant. Letters are sent to people who live within 300 feet of the project, and a poster advising residents about the proposal is hung at the site.
Some neighbors said they did not receive the letter, and pressed Milgrom about notifying them of his plans.
“The biggest mistake I made is that I didn’t realize there would be so much opposition to me turning a derelict liquor store into a beautiful restaurant,” he said. “I am still surprised.”
Neighbors who opposed to the restaurant said they were happy to see the liquor store go — so far that’s the one thing they agrees on.
After the meeting, Campos suggested that both groups continue talking, with his office serving as a mediator. Meanwhile, Jones continued to gather the signatures of those who oppose the plan, adding to the more than 145 she has already collected.
The San Francisco Planning Commission will hear the proposal again on Thursday, Jan. 26, at City Hall, room 400. The meeting starts at noon.