Despite Setbacks, ForageSF Dinner Tonight

Photo of Iso Rabins, founder of ForageSF, taken in 2009 by Hélène Goupil

Photo of Iso Rabins, founder of ForageSF, taken in 2009 by Hélène Goupil

En Español.

It may have cost him a lot more than expected, but Iso Rabins, the founder of ForageSF, will be able to legally host a group dinner tonight at the Florida Street Café.

Rabins had to pay the Fire Department $330 for a place of assembly permit this morning, which allows more than 49 patrons to attend his dinner tonight. He’s also paid roughly $1,000 for a fire marshal to inspect the event and remain on site until it’s over.

“Because of all the publicity I’ve gotten, it’s to the point where I can organize large events,” said Rabins. “On the other hand, I’m an easy target.”

Rabins, the man behind the Underground Market, an event that the Department of Public Health shut down for health reasons, says he is pretty tired of running into legal barriers.

“I don’t want to see them as an enemy,” said Rabins, referring to city and county government. “I really wanted to work with them as much as possible to make this happen.”

In an email addressed to Rabins’ intern, Fire Department Lieutenant Mary M. Tse said that 710 Florida Street, the location of the Florida Street Café, is not an “approved place of assembly.”

“Any assembly of over 49 persons (including staff) and cooking regulated by the SFFD is not allowed because it is a violation of the SFFC Section 105.1,” Tse wrote.

Rabins said he expected approximately 70 people to attend the dinner.

He said he’s held dinners in the space before, with the same number of people, and it has never been an issue.

The Department of Public Health threatened to shut down a dinner he hosted in January, Rabins said, because he had not turned in his application for a catering permit. He turned it in and the dinner went off without a hitch.

In February, the health department made the same threat, this time because Rabins had not turned in his pop-up verification form, he said. So he filled it out, and that was that.

In both cases, the health department was aware of the number of people who would be in attendance, but did not mention that it was a problem, Rabins said.

After straightening things out with the Fire Department this morning, Rabins said, “No one has commented [on] why it was different this time.”

The health department has not responded to Mission Loc@l’s request for comment.

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