Tamale Lady to Open Brick-And-Mortar Locale

Photo by Ramon Burgos Ruiz

After years of the Tamale Lady going to her Mission customers, they will now flock to her.

The Tamale Lady, Virginia Ramos, has been through a lot this year with her ouster from her long-time tamale-peddling post at Zeitgeist. But she’s got a new home — and not just in a mural on Clarion Alley. She is working out the lease details for a brick-and-mortar storefront near 16th and Mission. Nate Allbee, legislative aide to Supervisor David Campos, confirmed the details to Mission Local Monday.

“It will be her very own place,” Allbee says. “We pulled out all the stops, and it took six months, but we found a place.”

Campos told us about the 16th and Mission location in a text message last week, which Allbee says was going to be a secret until they signed the lease and had a press conference likely in January. “He was not supposed to tell anyone that,” Allbee sighed. “Oh, David.”

Virginia Ramos, aka the Tamale Lady, serves guests at her 60th birthday party at the Eagle Bar.

Virginia Ramos, aka the Tamale Lady, serves guests at her 60th birthday party at the Eagle Bar.

It took a crowdfunding campaign, an Uber promotion and a grand intervention by Campos’ office to find the location for the Tamale Lady, after Zeitgeist informed her last summer that she could no longer serve up her tamales in its beer garden to the rowdy patrons. Her tamales are made at home — not a commercial kitchen — and so technically not up to health code. (Not that her customers ever cared.) Neighborhood fans immortalized the Mission legend in a mural “Viva La Tamale Lady!” to show support, but it remained in doubt whether she’d be able to set down roots.

Allbee said he’s been pounding the pavement around the Mission with Ramos, hunting for a new spot in a neighborhood with spiking rents. “It’s been a huge chunk of my time for the last six months.” He says Ramos will be serving her tamales out of her new restaurant and — hopefully — beer.

The unofficial eviction of this Mission icon seemed so indicative of the changing tide in the Mission, we included her in our top 10 stories of 2013, concluding, “The resolution of her story will be symbolic of whether longtime Mission legends can become a part of the neighborhood’s future — or be relegated to the scenery commemorating what was.”

It turns out, amidst all its displacement news, the Mission can still serve up a happy ending.

Share!FacebookGoogle+PinterestRedditLinkedInEmail

12 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Creely

    Nice job, Virginia, Nate and Mr. Campos! Yeah! This is good news. I look forward to eating at her new restaurant.

  2. Pamela

    With all the daily crime, quality of life issues, including murder, in the Mission & District 9, Campos takes 6 months to find a spot for a person who ran an illegal cart besides breaking who knows many Health Dept regulations, & other Govt laws. He is a bad joke; she has chutzpah! Knowing people who build, own restaurants, this is insult to them as they go by the book with all the countless hoops they have to go through to get a place started let alone opened. It is curious who signed the paperwork, was able to get the proper permits for her? A case of corruption here?

  3. John

    Great news! I’m glad the stick-in-the-muds that want even children selling lemonade on the street corner to get permits dont always carry the day. Bravo!

  4. nutrisystem

    Although I wish Mrs. Ramos the best in her new “bricks and mortar” operation, I can’t help feeling a little uncomfortable about the whole thing.

    The fact that it takes everything short of the National Guard to open a little shop is troubling, and strikes me as an extravagant feel-good gesture like the Bat Boy parade… A feel-good gesture which is meant to prove to us that “the little guy CAN succeed if everyone pitches in”, while doing nothing to address the fundamental problems: sky-high rents and extremely complex and expensive city regulations.

    Also, the beauty of the original business was that the tamales almost magically appeared in front of the barflies, and they loved it. And now that’s gone.

  5. Marya

    Would love to go and eat at her restaurant. Cheers.

  6. Mark

    I too wish Ms Ramos the best but this is an absolute political cheap stunt by David Campos who aspires for higher office by pandering to his echo chamber base. I am absolutely appalled my Supervisor gets to pick winners and losers in our district; “We pulled out all the stops, and it took six months, but we found a place.” This stunt is a distraction from all the quality of life issues and crimes that residents and businesses put up with on a daily basis; smashed car windows, vandalism, garbage and feces on sidewalks, and violent crime. No special treatment from David Campos if you play by the rules and pay your various taxes, fees and surcharges imposed by the Supervisors. No its a slap in a face with a citation to clean up after vandals because businesses not criminals are held accountable since David Campos has no time to deal with quality of life issues in our district. This stunt is an insult to the struggling businesses around the 16th Street BART Station which is an absolute disaster and international embarrassment but also a direct reflection of David Campos’ failed leadership.

  7. chris

    Was it really appropriate, or even ethical, for the supervisor’s aide (and apparently the supervisor himself) to devote a “huge chunk” of his time over 6 months to this singular issue in service of one small business owner?

  8. Nicky Pyne

    Pamela, chill out!…the people from all over not only in the Mission appreciate her. Corruption, ha! a laugh for sure, just look at the full scale “Corruption” all around, in churches! They break laws by supporting politicians, who share their corrupt ideas! So be nice lady, maybe you might win the lottery & pay taxes!

  9. YOU GOOOOOOO TAMALE LADY!!! AND FOR THE IDIOTS THAT DO NOT SEE THE VALUE OF A SMALL BUSINESS MOVING FORWARD AND GENERATING ALL THAT SMALL BUSINESSES GENERATE TO A COMMUNITY–TRY CREATING SOMETHING YOURSELVES FOR A CHANGE SO THAT YOU STOP MAKING PREPOSTEROUS COMMENTS ROOTED IN THE VERY AUTHORITARIAN MINDSET THAT IS SINKING THIS COUNTRY.

Comments are closed.