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.”
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.