After two months of delays, an acrimonious community meeting and two failed mediation meetings with neighbors, the San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously approved on Thursday plans for a small restaurant at the corner of 23rd and Bryant streets.
The restaurant’s owner, Yaron Milgrom, who also owns Local: Mission Eatery on 24th Street, met early opposition from the upstairs tenant and other neighbors who were concerned by the possibility of increased noise and changes to the character of the neighborhood. The restaurant will open sometime in March, Milgrom said.
The 590-square-foot restaurant with outdoor seating will serve a European-style breakfast and sustainable fish for dinner, along with beer and wine. It will be allowed to remain open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., but Milgrom said the restaurant will open at 8 a.m.
Those opposed to the new restaurant did not show up to speak at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting. Other neighbors, however, spoke favorably about the business and the owner.
The experience was an eye-opener regarding the challenges of opening a restaurant, Milgrom said.
“The takeaway for me is you have to be proactive and engaging with neighbors even when you think what you are doing is valuable,” he said.
Milgrom was not required to hold community meetings, but did so after Supervisor David Campos requested one in January. After the meeting, in which some neighbors portrayed Milgrom as interested only in profiting at the expense of the neighborhood, two mediation meetings were held at Campos’ office. The parties failed to reach an agreement at those meetings, but it appears from the lack of opposition on Thursday that some objections were addressed.
The neighbors’ main concern was how the noise associated with outdoor seating would affect the residential neighborhood. Milgrom, who lives across the street from the restaurant, said he understood that concern, but that his business would fail without outdoor seating and a beer and wine license.
“My wife and children sleep across the street; our quality of life at home is highly correlated to the collective sleep of my house,” he told the commission in January. “I do not want to disturb that.”
Eric Arguello of the Lower 24th Street Merchants Association attended the mediation meetings, and said that even though a project might not appear controversial, community meetings are important.
“I am glad that it was worked out with the community,” Arguello said. “The project sponsor thought there wasn’t going to be people protesting. I think in some cases you need more outreach.”
Jessy Dobson, the upstairs tenant who had voiced concerns about noise, did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment.