Boycott Called Against Local’s Eateries and Stores

Boycott.

Boycott.

The local branch of a statewide activist group has posted fliers around the Mission District asking residents to boycott the restaurants and stores operated by the Local Mission Group.

The boycott is the latest development in a long-brewing conflict between the Mission/Bernal Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, known as ACCE, and the owners of the Local Mission Group. It is one that erupted more than a year ago when Sandy Cuadra, a long-term local resident who has since died, said she was denied service at Local’s Corner.

So far, it’s not clear how widely the boycott is being supported.

ACCE, a five-year-old statewide organization with chapters in the Bay Area and Southern California that has been active in protests against gentrification and housing issues, alleges the upscale establishments have discriminated against local residents. The group wants Yaron Milgrom, co-owner of the Local establishments, to sign an agreement that includes demands for sensitivity training and a local hiring program. (See the full list of demands below.)

“I have agreed to these items, which they know,” Milgrom wrote in an email, referring to the demands for local hiring and sensitivity training. “They are persisting, because I will not sign their document, with their language, on their terms, without any commitment on their end…”

Milgrom said business at Local’s Corner is down by 20 percent compared to last year and that business at the Local Mission Market, which opened in the fall, is “below its potential and has grown slower than it should have, which is partially due to ACCE’s efforts.”

ACCE member Anna Slavicek said that Milgrom’s recent initiatives to remedy their complaints against him are insufficient.

“It’s not enough at all,” said Slavicek. “I’m glad he’s doing it, but as far as I’m concerned, we don’t know anything about it.”

That appears to be true as the standoff has been complicated by a decided lack of communication. The two sides are not talking to one another. Instead, they are negotiating through a third party, a group of community leaders that includes Jim Salinas, a longtime labor leader, and Erick Arguello, the head of the business association.

“I really don’t want to comment on this issue right now,” said Arguello, when reached about the boycott. “It’s very sensitive.”

The Local Group Becomes the Focus of Neighborhood Tensions

The disagreements between Milgrom and ACCE have been aggravated by changes in what was once a working class, immigrant neighborhood—changes that have been so swift that some residents feel they are on the outside looking in at an upscale neighborhood they hardly recognize.

In their view, the Local Mission Group—which includes the Mission Local Eatery, Local’s Corner, the Local Mission Market and Local Cellar—has come to epitomize these changes.

To be sure, Milgrom is hardly alone in his efforts to reach the new tech residents. The 24th Street corridor of 130 businesses has long been dominated by Latino businesses. Some 77 of those in the 12-block area are still Latino-owned, and many of those are making their own changes to appeal to a broader, more upscale clientele.

In addition to these businesses, 24th Street has also become home to record shops, pricey paper stores, a Jewish deli and an assortment of more expensive cafes and restaurants.

None of the other new owners, however, have clashed as Milgrom has with a neighborhood already on edge about change.

One prominent businesswoman, who declined to have her name associated with the conflict, called Milgrom “a really horrible communicator” who is his own worst enemy.

“He is a poor manager,” she said.

Salinas, the longtime labor leader who is helping negotiate the conflict, said in early June that he felt Milgrom was sincere in wanting to work something out. “What I hear the most is that he loves the Mission District and he lives here, but he has to learn how to connect with the community,” Salinas said. “If I came into Pacific Heights, I would say I have to learn how to operate.”

Salinas declined to comment on the boycott.

For his part, Milgrom acknowledged that he had made some mistakes and he acknowledged that his establishments could be expensive for some. When he goes out with his wife and two three children, he said, he often opts for a place like El Metate because it is more reasonable for families.

Nevertheless, he said, his restaurants offer the Mission different choices and the incidents at his restaurants boil down to a hospitality problem—his staff sometimes failing in graciousness—not racism.

A quick expansion

In part, Milgrom is more exposed than other new owners because he’s expanded quickly across a four-block radius, and within a district where gentrification has been so rapid that city officials recently made it a Latino cultural district. The Calle24 distinction is an effort to encourage city planners to take the area’s history into account in future planning decisions.

After opening the Local Eatery in 2010, Milgrom opened a second restaurant, Local’s Corner in 2012, Local Mission Market in late 2013, and Local’s Cellar, a wine and liquor store, in 2014. They’ve won kudos in places like The New York Times for their local sourcing and cooking, but they’ve had less success in community relations.

Sandy Cuadra feels unwelcome

Milgrom’s recent problems can be traced back more than a year, to Cesar Chavez Day in April 2013. That was when Sandy Cuadra, a respected Mission resident who helped her nephew and his low-riders with a major toy drive every Christmas,  felt she was refused service at Local’s Corner. (Cuadra died of cancer last fall.)

That morning in April, Cuadra and family decided to try breakfast at Local’s Corner. It was a new place, and she hadn’t been there yet. She entered with her family, dressed in their “Frisco finest” of Giants jerseys and low-rider T-shirts, and asked for an inside table. The waiter was like a “deer caught in a headlight,” she recounted at an October protest in front of Local’s Corner.

The waiter, Cuadra said, told them, “‘No, we can’t accommodate you.’” Cuadra and her family offered to wait while the staff moved tables together, or perhaps they could sit at separate tables, she said,  but the server suggested that they go to a restaurant on 24th Street. “At first I didn’t get it,” she said. But then, she did. They were being turned away.

In response to her complaints, Milgrom paid a visit to Cuadra’s family shortly after the April incident and published an apology in El Tecolote. Six months later, however, Cuadra was still distressed by what had happened. On October 12, just 17 days before her death, she spoke at a demonstration organized in front of Local’s Corner. She suggested that she and her family had frightened the servers, perhaps because they didn’t look like the restaurant’s usual customers.

Ray Balberan, a community activist and videographer, caught Cuadra’s talk on video. What becomes clear in watching it is the impact the experience had on a proud woman accustomed to living in a neighborhood once owned by Latinos, he says.

Milgrom said recently that he understands how devastating this must have been. “She felt that she was discriminated against,” he said. “It is important to make sure my staff stays respectful and accommodating. We did not do the best we can do that day.”

The server who dealt with Cuadra no longer works at Local’s Corner and could not be reached for comment. A current employee, who asked that her name be withheld, said she could completely see Cuadra being offended by the server who could sometimes be off-putting.

Cuadra, members of ACCE and others, however, did not accept Milgrom’s apology. ACCE continues to question his sincerity and his willingness to take responsibility and make meaningful changes in his business operations.

New Incidents or Tests

An incident in December inflamed distrust and increased tensions. Local Corner staffers asked a large, boisterous and ethnically diverse party from San Francisco City College to move from the 26-seat Local’s Corner to the larger Local Mission Eatery on 24th Street.

The hostess at Local’s Corner insisted that the group grew as the night went on, making it difficult to seat them comfortably. She offered them the opportunity to move to the Local Mission Eatery on 24th Street, but they declined and instead went to a popular Latino restaurant.

Mike Ponce, a student and one of the last in the group to arrive, said they were testing the restaurant to see if its employees would treat him differently. The hostess, he said, failed the test. Others in the group declined to speak to Mission Local.

On a later date, Slavicek from ACCE, who is also a public school teacher, arrived with five white diners at Local’s Corner. “We just went in…six white people,” she said recently. “We told them that we might have two more, so they put together three small tables and laid a place setting, so it was clear they were accommodating. It was empty and we were treated wonderfully.”

The SF City College crowd turned away earlier had been told they were being too loud, she said, “so we purposely talked loudly and sang ‘Happy Birthday’ loudly. And the server was lovely, and we got good service.”

The hostess said that the group could be accommodated because there was space.

The Incidents bring new demands

Incident in May

Interior of Local’s Corner after vandalism in May.

After these incidents, the Mission/Bernal Alliance of ACCE began demanding that Milgrom agree to local hiring, sensitivity training and a complaint process.

Slavicek said the group advised him to have someone from the neighborhood at each of his establishments to welcome people. “We have a lot of people coming from outside who don’t understand what multiculturalism is,” she said. “They don’t understand the community they are in, and the attitudes they are bringing in are very unsophisticated.”

Milgrom said he objected to ACCE’s tactics—which he called confrontational and personal. They were “organizing a protest saying I was racist,” he said of his experience earlier in the conflict. “They never had contacted me prior to the allegations.”

At the same time, vandalism incidents at Local’s Corner and the other Local establishments picked up. In late May April, vandals tucked a spray can through the mail slot and spray-painted Local’s Corner inside, then returned to tag it outside with graffiti and a “Fuck! This place.”

ACCE immediately disavowed the vandalism calling it “counterproductive,” and to help diffuse the tension shelved its immediate plans for a boycott.

In May, a day before someone smashed a window at his Local Mission Market, Milgrom told Mission Local, “I am putting in lights and cameras at Local’s Corner, because too much of my time and the time of my staff is spent cleaning up.”

Arguello and Salinas also stepped in to talk to Milgrom about making some changes. Tensions ebbed and the vandalism died down. Milgrom said this week there have been no recent incidents.

Concessions and then a boycott

As part of the negotiations with Arguello and Salinas, Milgrom said he began to look for ways to do more local hiring. In early June, he visited the Mission Language and Vocational School, which has a culinary program, and discussed several collaborations—including internships and hiring—with the director Rosario Anaya.

Anaya said that Milgrom “was very open and asked questions about the school. He seemed interested. He sent us some requests [job listings] for two to three positions he had. Then we took a tour of the market.”

Milgrom said he would be offering a kitchen position to one applicant from the vocational school. The school has confirmed the hire for a part-time kitchen position, and said the new employee could start as early as this weekend.

For ACCE, however, it’s too little, too late.

Slavicek asserted that, because Milgrom has refused to sign the document agreeing to ACCE’s demands, they don’t believe he’s following through with any of these efforts. “If he can make a public declaration and commitment we would be very happy, but as far as we are concerned this is all talk,” she said.

ACCE wants Milgrom to commit to several mechanisms by which community members can report cases of potential discrimination.

The document of demands also includes a provision for Milgrom to commit to working with the upstairs neighbor of Local’s Corner to mitigate the restaurant noise that travels up to her apartment.

Milgrom said that the latter is an issue between him and a neighbor, and that he will not negotiate it through ACCE.

Milgrom wrote in an email: “…They have organized protests and boycotts (the first of which was outside Local’s Corner and was advertised with a picture of me, calling the restaurants discriminatory and racist), which have negatively impacted the businesses, instigated multiple counts of vandalism, and led to threats against me and the staff. Because of placing my face as a discriminatory racist, people have spit at my feet.”

“It’s not the same if he’s talking to people all spread out around the neighborhood,” said Slavicek, who said ACCE is unlikely to cease the boycott if Milgrom does not meet with them directly. “We’re representing the community and he doesn’t get to pick and choose who the community is.”

Milgrom added that he was still working with Arguello to resolve some concerns. “Among the areas of contact with Erick is his initiative for all 24th Street Corridor businesses to post an anti-discrimination policy, and a means to report those claims,” Milgrom wrote in an email to Mission Local.

Milgrom believes the initiative should cover all of the businesses instead of singling out his establishments.

Already, Milgrom said, 40 percent of his employees come from the Mission’s 94110 zip code, and 25 percent are Latino. Calle 24 district planners said that within the immediate area, 49 percent of the residents self-identify as Latino.

Local Prospects

Milgrom said that when he first opened the Local Eatery in 2010, he had hoped for a more diverse clientele and priced the lunch items at $10—the price of carne asada at local Mexican restaurants, he said.

What he discovered was that some found even the architecture uninviting. The Local Eatery is designed so that at lunchtime, customers walk to the back to order. This, he said, made some diners—whites as well as Latinos—feel ill at ease and confused because they are accustomed to being greeted at the door. He added that he was thinking of changes that would make the experience better for everyone.

Leslie Gratiano, a Latina and Milgrom’s chef de cuisine, said that they will be making more changes at the Local Mission Market to bring down prices. “Originally we wanted no outside products, just locally-sourced products, but we also want to make it more accessible to the community,” she said.

Gratiano, who is one of the highest paid people on staff, said the majority of her employees live in the neighborhood and walk to work. The attacks on the market, she said, have been disheartening and scary. In June, someone threw a rock through the window at the Local Mission Market, she said.

The attacks have clearly impacted business. A woman came in recently, Gratiano said, and picked up a basket full of items to buy. Once at the counter, however, she saw a card for Local’s Corner and put her items back. The woman apologized, but explained that she couldn’t shop here, Gratiano said.

Keli Dailey also contributed reporting to this article.

DEMANDS MILGROM RECEIVED

88 Comments

  1. Matt

    I’m not familiar with the details outside of what was reported in this story, but that document feels a bit like blackmail. If the organizers of the boycott are serious about solving the larger problem of racism and diversity in the local restaurant community — and this isn’t a personal vendetta — then all local restaurants should post such documents in their restaurants. But I don’t think any restaurant would agree to post such documents because it’s signage that seems out of place, and simply its presence would trigger red flags in the customer’s mind
    I would hesitate to patronize, or ask the management questions, if I saw such signage in any establishment. But maybe that’s the boycott organizers’ point.

    • Valenchia

      ACCE is not really trying to solve a problem. They are trying to flex their power and score political points. So they have written a list of demands that they know won’t be accepted. When the owner responds by taking actions that actually respond to the real concerns, they declare those actions to be inadequate and declare a boycott.
      Basically, this seems like a trumped up controversy from a group that wants to make political points not actually deal with real issues.

  2. 24-24

    One stupid employee and this guy is screwed. haha. Also, what balls he has to call everything Local this and local that. Is he even a local? The guy might be a dumb ass, and the guy might have had one stupid employee, but he doesnt deserve all this boycott BS. ACCE should worry about more important things in the community. The free market will take care of this guy..

  3. pete

    “We’re representing the community and he doesn’t get to pick and choose who the community is.”
    Fuck you ACCE. I’m part of this community and you DON”T represent me. This whole boycott is BS. Enough already.

  4. Sam

    I agree with 24-24 and Pete. This is a misguided, self-promoting campaign to garner some cheap publicity. The allegations strike me as trivial and trumped up.

    I for one will continue to patronize their fine business, which is one of the best additions to the still under-achieving part of the Mission.

    Shame on ML for making a big deal of this. Why can’t ML instead express support for local businesses over ideological opportunists?

    • Avatar of Lydia Chávez Lydia Chávez Post author

      Sam: We tried to do a thorough job of reporting the news. While we don’t normally write such long stories, we felt we should go into the history and talk to as many people as we could. Best, Lydia

      • Sam

        Lydia, I wasn’t criticizing the depth to which you investigated this so much as your deeming it worth investigating it in the first place.

        This faux campaign seems to me to be little more than a scurrilous attempt to project envy-based, race-baitng as a legitimate political agenda while hounding a wonderful eatery. (And to your credit, you do appear to enjoy good food).

        The comments here, which have been 100% supportive of Local, should give you a clue. How about doing a food review of Local? Or is ML boycotting it?

        • Russo

          John, er, “Sam” made the same comments about ML’s coverage of the Google bus protests. He wanted you to squelch them even though they were a flashpoint of the tech invasion and made international headlines.

          Lydia: please keep on doing what you’re doing.

      • Jamie T

        I’d like to hear more about what lead one local businesswoman to call Milgrom “a really horrible communicator.” While the initial, very offensive and regrettable instance of discrimination against Sandy Cuadra lead to the initial complaints, I wonder if Milgrom’s response was one that exacerbated the situation.

        Clearly the offending employee has been fired. And regarding the test of the two parties, I’ve generally experienced a difference between a group of six informing servers they’re expecting two more guests for a birthday in an otherwise empty restaurant versus an ever expanding group of boisterous customers being hella loud for the whole dinner on a presumably busier night.

        Ideally we could get some more background on what AACE has asked for. So far these demands seem over the top, unrealistic for any business to agree to, and to be illogically singling out Milgrom and his Local chain and not more widely focused and supported by other businesses.

  5. Jesse

    A white guy in the Mission dared to call his businesses “local”, the ACCE is bullying an easy target… That’s the whole story.

  6. Dan

    Perhaps there should be a boycott of ACCE leader Anna Slavicek. Her students at Lowelll High think she’s a bully. And now she is bullying local businesses. http://www.ratemyteachers.com/anna-slavicek/29781-t

  7. zouaf

    I’m shocked by the intimidation and blackmail going on here in the name of “the community.” I live in the Mission and these racist vigilante groups certainly don’t represent me.

  8. RJ

    It seems like Local has worked hard with a number of different neighborhood groups, including Calle 24, to engage with the community, to improve their outreach and hiring, and to move forward initiatives that will help the practices all businesses in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, ACCE refuses to recognize any of this unless Local’s owner signs their specific page of demands?

    This feels like it’s becoming less about ACCE trying to help the community, and more about ACCE consolidating power for its own sake. I will support ACCE when it keeps its focus on preventing evictions, but there’s no way I’ll support this boycott. I’ll be shopping/eating at Milgrom’s businesses even more because of the positive steps they’ve taken.

  9. BigV

    Mission Local Eatery is a great place with amazing food. I think I’ll go have lunch there.

    these “activists” don’t represent me, and I’m part of the local community.

  10. Kim

    Well that sure shows why there is so much anger in the local Latino community. At least someone is saying what they really want – change the neighborhood into a Marina like neighborhood. Why not just move there if you hate the culture so much here?

  11. Josh

    This seems like a vendetta driven smear job over one or two mistakes by employees, not the owner. The owner has clearly tried to engage the community to fix the wrongs of his employees, yet the vendetta caries on.

    How dare the ACCE claim to represent the entire, extremely diverse neighborhood of thousands. They represent a small fraction of this city.

    As a resident of this neighborhood, I will be patronizing his businesses to intentionally offset this ugly, ugly campaign.

  12. Avatar of Lydia Chávez Lydia Chávez Post author

    Sam: Just to remind you on our policy of one comment, one reply. Thank you, best, Lydia

    • ThatGuy

      Lydia — why don’t you follow your own policy of being fair. This is an outrageous article and complete slander. Why give air time to these racist bullies????

  13. 30 year SF resident

    The actions of ACCE disgust and offend me. This neighborhood and all SF deserves better than this type of intimidatio and bully tactics. I will make a point of patronizing this business. For shame!

    • backtotheburbs

      This drama has been going on for quite a long time. There have been numerous reports on both sides.

      To all the commenters threatening to support these businesses, why haven’t you? Their business is down …

      BTW there are similar practices going on in other new establishments. Recently we tried to eat at Chino, which doesn’t take reservations. We had group of 5 and asked to sit at an empty booth in the front, but instead we got directed to the back by the bathroom. Soon after we saw a well heeled very white family of five eating at the front booth. Some people are not good enough apparently and the ad hoc designations are annoying at the least …

      It has become a status kind of town. Get your status or get out.

      • 30 year SF resident

        Whew you sure do have one heck of a chip on your shoulder! Back in the burbs, we all live in identical houses, and do not worry about “status” issues thank God!

  14. Brie

    It’s really disgusting to hear someone say that. I’m ashamed of you.

  15. observant neighbor

    This is good reporting; I appreciate it.

    But there’s one glaring omission: No mention of whether a complaint was ever filed with the city’s human rights commission, and if not why not. We have a public entity whose job is to investigate claims of discrimination. This being SF, the human rights commission no doubt errs on the side of protecting people who may have been victims of discrimination. But so far as I know, no complaint was ever filed based on either of the alleged instances of discrimination, and ACCE hasn’t encouraged the victims to file. (I recognize that one is now dead. But what about the party of students?)

    More than anything else, the fact that ACCE isn’t pursuing any recourse through available, low-cost legal channels makes this look like they want to run a guy out of business just to prove they can do (if he doesn’t pay up). There’s another organizations that operates on this principles, with roots in Sicily . . .

    • Avatar of Lydia Chávez Lydia Chávez Post author

      Observant neighbor: Good point on the Human Rights Commission. Several parties told us that “maybe” or they “had heard” that someone was going to file a compliant, but we could not get a confirmation from anyone involved and we could not get a confirmation from the Human Rights Commission. We will follow up again. Best, Lydia

      • observant neighbor

        Thanks for letting me know. The noncommittal responses to your questions about filing an HRC complaint are, to my mind, a big omission from the story.

      • Missy District

        So to be clear, not a single person who has complained to you or to ACCE, and not ACCE itself, has, as far as you have been able to determine, filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission. Not a single boycotter, not a single demander of concessions, not a single poster of signs, not a single vigilante, not a single self-righteous vandal, not a single “victim” has submitted his or her complaint to investigation by the agency dedicated to protecting against discrimination in public accommodations.

  16. Bob

    A boycott based on unsubstantiated rumors seems very unjustified, and I’m disappointed that Mission Local is supporting this effort by publicizing it. Will Mission Local hire all the Latinos who are going to lose their jobs if this boycott succeeds??

    • Avatar of Lydia Chávez Lydia Chávez Post author

      Bob: Mission Local is not taking any sides. We are reporting news – a boycott of four establishments – and we have done our best to relate the facts of a complicated and emotionally charged story. We have also linked to as many documents and videos as possible so that readers can see the documents for themselves or hear, for example, what Sandy Cuadra had to say. If you have more documents or audio, please let us know and we would be happy to post them. Best, Lydia

      • ThatGuy

        You don’t take sides? What a joke. Check your “articles” again.

      • Bob

        This is simply not true. ML loves to fan the flames against Milgrom and does so as often as possible. A boycott lives on publicity and you are providing it for free.

        • Orddu

          You guys are off your rocker. This is a balanced, thoroughly researched example of journalism. All the coverage of Local’s have been.
          The frothing at the mouth over the coverage of a complex neighborhood dispute is just pathetic.

  17. sonic

    There was no mention of the employee fired days after filing a sexual harassment suit against local mission eatery:

    http://uptownalmanac.com/2013/11/local-mission-eatery-employee-fired-days-after-reporting-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-claims

  18. Akit

    This is the first I’m reading about this conflict. From viewing this from a fresh perspective, if the employee isn’t working there anymore after mistreating a customer, then the issue should have been resolved. It seems to me that ACCE is trying to be bullies and glorify a problem that the owner has taken care of. I also don’t like the idea that ACCE should hold Local hostage by forcing them to sign a contract.

    As for people who do violence and graffiti to establishments, that’s not cool and I hope ACCE knows that they need to find who is doing these crimes, because it’s the right thing to do.

  19. ThatGuy

    Shame on your Mission Local. Seriously.

    This has anti-semitism written ALL OVER IT and you keep promoting it.

    I’d rather boycott this piece of crap rag.

  20. Hampshire in HIFI

    As foodies and cookbook authors who does support the best local markets, bodegas and Bi-Rites alike, we think we really need to call the LOCAL quasi-empire what it is: unnecessarily pretentious and MOST IMPORTANTLY failing to deliver on both the taste and quality of their food (which is overpriced by any standard).

    We tried the LOCAL establishments but we found them to be soulless food experiences, just average, with no defining reason to go back. Decide for yourself.

    We’ve also chatted with Milgrom and as local business owners ourselves, it is clear he lacks a defined vision and importantly the expertise to operate a food business (let alone 4!). If you’ve ever been by any of the LOCAL establishments at primetime you will also notice they are conspicuously less than busy. Milgrom is clearly losing substantial sums of money from his ventures (Local Mission Market, most notably), playing around with considerable wealth, while completely missing the point of good business: building community,serving the local population, and delivering a quality experience that people pass on by word of mouth.

    Lastly, how long will it take Local Mission Market to put in a bike rack? Nearly a year and counting, guys!

    • doing is harder than criticizing

      As a bike commuter, I would love a bike rack, too. This is not their fault. They applied on 11/14/2013 and, according to the SFMTA website, it will be installed by 2/28/2015. See for yourself. https://data.sfgov.org/Transportation/Bicycle-Parking-Public-/w969-5mn4
      Though clearly not the most important issue here, it represents how quickly people are willing to criticize and blame on such limited or wrong information.

    • Fran Taylor

      I recently stopped behind a car parked in the bike lane outside Mission Local Market on Harrison to write down the license, and the driver came out and huffily informed me, “I’m a business owner.” It wasn’t Milgrom but his business partner Jake Des Voignes (the chef whose photo has been in the Chronicle). The message was clear: Owning the business made him above the law and forcing cyclists to ride in traffic was an issue beneath his notice. So don’t expect bike love any time soon.

      • Orrdu

        That’s obnoxious!

        I don’t know how I feel about the charges leveled against Milgrom and the whole Local’s empire (generally I prefer for allegations of racial/sexual discrimination to be settled somewhere other than the court of public opinion)…but I will say that the nonchalant attitudes of the sales staff are grating.

        And I bet that’s what gets on people’s nerves: the studied cool of the staff. I’ve noticed it and thought, oh get over it, hon. You’re working in a retail establishment. That you’re working in a Local’s establishment in a hip neighborhood matters not a bit.

        My gripe with Local’s Market is this: 6 bucks for 32 ounces of store-made chicken stock, which is outrageously expensive. But I have no doubt that there are people dumb enough to spend that kind of money.

    • Valenchia

      I would disagree — I have had excellent, creative meals at both of the “Local” restaurants and intend to go back.
      The comments on lacking vision or soul just seem odd — I really don’t know what you expect from the guy. Maybe you just don’t like his style, but no need to denigrate him.

  21. misterheymister

    As far as I am concerned if someone is moneyed enough to move onto 24th St, open 3-4 businesses in short period of time and buy a house on 24th in no way are they a local. And naming it Local this and that…geez what a egotistical moron

    They, themselves are a poster child for the gentrification.

    • Missionite

      Actually owning 4 businesses on the street where you live is the epitome of being local. Milgrom is an ethnic minority and is likely getting the same treatment that the first taqueria got when the Mission was a predominantly Irish neighborhood. This is racial harassment disguised as community activism. Shameful.

  22. caramella

    These protestors are obvioulsy thugs. I will purposely go out of my way now to buy from these stores. I doubt any of these people ever ran a srtvice business.

  23. The whole “Local” empire has struck me as problematic from the beginning. It’s odd that their PR/marketing people (and they clearly have some pros on the job, judging by how polished the brand is) didn’t see the red flags when deciding on how they positioned themselves within the community.

    A “local place” here points to several different things: 1) geographic location, 2) food politics, 3) a place born of, adopted by, or closely related to the people within a specific place/neighborhood.

    The “Local” brand can definitely claim 1 & 2, but clearly they’re missing the mark on 3–like, way off. The fact that one of the owners lives here doesn’t really count–that’s still in the territory of 1.

    I thought this the first time I ate at Local Eatery, but as soon as LOCAL’S Corner opened, I thought–”Oh crap. They’re in trouble.” The possessive “Local’s” as a name for a new upscale place in the middle of a neighborhood going through some major cultural and economic shifts… terrible idea.

    That third idea of “local” in a place like the Mission (or pretty much any neighborhood in SF) could be the beginning of a really interesting and intense conversation about the rich and varied cultural history of this place. But when you invoke such a loaded term, you have to be up for the conversation that follows, or you’re going to stick your foot in it. The owners don’t seem mean-spirited to me, but they do seem sadly culturally egocentric and tone-deaf on this point.

    I can think of a dozen places in this part of the neighborhood that charge just as much as Local’s Corner, but they don’t presume to speak for the entire neighborhood. They live here, like everybody else, doing their thing, without claiming the whole neighborhood as their own.

    A word might seem like a small thing, but it’s not. And emotions are running understandably hot around this one.

    • OSEDo

      Well said, Lindy! Thank you for putting into words what I’ve also felt as a longtime Mission resident myself. I can afford these places….I’ve eaten at Local Mission Eatery several times, though the name made me cringe a little, and the food was good in a rich sort if way. But ‘branding’ the whole empire Local when it’s too expensive for most folks living nearby, and with relatively few Latino staff….ack, it’s just too much. I went into the market and it was hopelessly precious and boutiquey, and there was no place to lock my bike so I left. Recently, I tried Local Cellar when I needed a bottle around $20 or less to take to a barbecue, and there was one (1!!) choice – i bought it, and it wasn’t tasty at all (embarrassingly bad actually). I don’t think they’re losing business because of any boycott. I think they just don’t understand the community where they’re located. And that’s what really gives the lie to their name.

      • Lindy

        Totally agree, OSEDo, on all fronts. Case in point: Tony’s Market on the corner of 24th and Hampshire, whose owner is also a recent arrival in SF and who doesn’t actually live in the neighborhood. He has a higher-end inventory, including plenty of really good $20 wines–a lot of them local. His business is booming.

    • ThatGuy

      Thanks for the completely irrelevant essay.

      • Jamie T

        I think this “essay” is very relevant to the aspects of this ongoing situations as described in the above article. If the owner has a reputation as a poor communicator, it stands to reason that has so very much to do with all the points Lindy raised.

        • ThatGuy

          Poor communicator? Most business owners in the Mission don’t speak English.

          And WTF does that have to do with anything? Is he a teacher or a restauranteur?

    • Missy District

      Interesting analysis and anyone who doesn’t like the guy’s food or style or name or marketing, or prices, is of course free to shop and eat elsewhere.
      But the heart of this conflict is the vigilante tactics being used against him, and the presumptuousness of a couple of people calling themselves ACCE, representatives of the community and empowered to speak for all of the Mission District.
      This is an organization whose website lists by name only its board members, only one of whom is said to be in San Francisco, Vivian Richardson.
      This is not shoddy reporting. An anonymous accuser about Milgrom’s management skill, the anointing of the amorphous ACCE, and the endless rehashing of nothing new. Oh, and nobody willing to submit their humiliation and degradation to the Human Rights Commission for investigation.
      I’ve never met Milgrom as far as I know. I’ve eaten at Local’s Corner once. It was good. There’s lots of good food around. Some of it is cheaper, some more expensive.

  24. Missy District

    Mob rule.
    Mission Local is still giving a handful of self-annointed holier-than-thous credibility with more extensive coverage. Sorry, Ms. Chavez, but you have taken a side.
    No complaint to the human rights commission, but vast coverage of vigilantes.
    Vandalism is tacitly approved, and effectively called for by these vigilantes, and Mission Local is their mouthpiece.
    Shame on you.

  25. Blindmansees

    One prominent businesswoman, who declined to have her name associated with the conflict, called Milgrom “a really horrible communicator” who is his own worst enemy.

    “He is a poor manager,” she said.

    It’s unfair to quote an anonymous source calling Milgrom a “horrible communicator,” a “poor manager” and to say he is his own worst enemy. If this business woman doesn’t have the conviction to have her name associated with her comments, they’re not fit for print.

    It’s one thing to protect the identity of whistle blowers who stand to lose their jobs or face prosecution for exposing abuses of power. It’s something altogether different to give anonymity to someone expressing a potentially defaming opinion about one of her peers.

    Come on, Mission Local. You’re a project of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. You should know this.

  26. lms

    I am a white tech worker who has lived in the mission for 20+ years (since I was a public school teacher) and have not ever been treated as badly at a restaurant as i was at Local’s Corner. I don’t think they are selective about who they are rude to. I’ve never gone back don’t need anyone to tell me not to. very unpleasant dining exp.

  27. maria

    As a member of Mission/Bernal ACCE i need to clarify some points. 1. Sandra Cuadra did file a complaint with the SF Human Rights Commission, but because of her death the complaint was not followed through. Currently, there is a second complaint being filed. 2. Other people of color have come to ACCE and have said they have been treated with disrespect at one or another of the “Local’s” establishments, but are unable to be public about their experience. 3. Milgrom stopped talking to ACCE not the other way around. 4. Milgrom is a recent transplant from NY, hence not a “local”. (yes, the use of “local’s” is about their food, but so what if long time local community people feel excluded.) 5. Of course, Milgrom’s stores and restaurants are not the only new businesses that do not cater to long time locals, however they have a record of discrimination. 6. ACCE has never condoned and has been part of vandalism. ACCE is working on issues beyond “Local’s”. And we welcome new people to join us in keeping our community the supportive and caring community, which it has always been.

    • maria

      CORRECTION:
      6. ACCE has never condoned and has NEVER been part of vandalism.

    • Not a "local"

      What do you mean Milgrom is not a “local”? He’s been a prominent businessman and resident of SF for what, 5, 6, 7 or more years. Is it Mission/Bernal ACCE’s position that people who are committed residents of SF aren’t locals because they have moved here more recently than other SF residents? If the answer is yes, how many years must someone have lived in SF before they’re considered a “local”? And does this distinction also apply to people who have moved to SF from Latin America?

    • local

      Re: Milgrom “is from New York,” and hence “not a local”:

      Harvey Milk was a Jewish New Yorker who moved to San Francisco.
      Jewish immigrants have long been a part of the Mission District– Dolores Park only exists as a park because it was a Jewish cemetery until graves were moved in the late 19th century.

      However (as I found in a minute by Googling), Yaron Milgrom was born in Los Angeles. But saying “Milgrom is from Los Angeles, and therefore is not a local,” has a different valence.

      • Lindy

        Not a local vs. local–

        This is such an interesting bit of nuance, which is why it also makes for such bad branding. “Local” means too many different things here. And our neighbor Mr. Milgrom’s brand claims the term too broadly.

        Being part of a neighborhood isn’t about how long you’ve lived in the place or where you come from. It’s about how you integrate, care for, and connect with your community. Harvey Milk is a great example. He came to the Castro, also in a time of massive cultural change in SF, and–because people VOTED for him to do so–he spoke for and stood up for the people (particularly those experiencing discrimination). Milgrome and his partner, on the other hand, simply named their enterprise in a such a way that presumes to claim that they represent the people around them. If Local’s Corner were called “Oyster Bar” or something, Milgrome’s legitimacy as a local business owner wouldn’t even be part of the conversation.

        I feel like there’s still a chance for them to make it right. But it’s going to take a lot of effort and humility (not to mention some professional PR help and maybe a name change!).

        • SFrentier

          I dunno…I think the 4 Local businesses already have a substantial and established client base here. And this ACCE nonsense, punctuated by Maria’s ice cold and rather insincere commentary (as well as their creepy leader Anna- Lowell students sure seem to love her. Not) will probably have the opposite effect and further ingratiate Local into the community.

          I mean I personally think their food is over priced. But this ridiculous witch hunt has me so annoyed, I’m going to start lunching there again, on principal.

          So that’s a giant fuck you to ACCE’s empty statement of being a “caring community.”

  28. Missy District

    I’m wondering who is ACCE and who can speak for them?
    The only people listed by name on the ACCE website are board members. Vivian Richardson is listed as Chair and San Francisco Rep.
    I’d like to know what Mission Local did to confirm the authority of people they spoke with as ACCE representatives. And what the structure of ACCE is. How many members are there? Who has the authority to speak for them? What is their process for deciding what actions and what positions to take?
    Lydia, you’re relying a great deal on this organization. Can you tell us more about them, and what ML has done to learn about them?
    Thanks.

  29. kennydojo1

    Of the three purported “incidents,” clearly only one was offensive. And in no way can it be attributed back to the proprietor. This is nonsense. Yes, the grocery is expensive for many locals. Yes, the restaurants are a little off putting. But that’s all it is. And jumping in to mediate between the upstairs tenant? Get over yourselves ACCE.

  30. samone

    Thank you ACCE for doing what you do!!! I know exactly how Saundra felt that day, may she rest in peace and I will definitely stop shopping at Locals’ establishments.

    Many of you have no idea what it’s like to have grown up in a neighborhood that was your only refuge from the discrimination and indifference toward you in this society and have it all gone so quickly and be treated like crap because you aren’t the right race/class.

    • Not a "local"

      I feel bad for the discrimination you experienced and support you in finding ways to heal from the indignities you experienced. But creating a two-class neighborhood where old-timers get special passes not afforded to more recent arrivals only perpetuates the classism you decry.

    • cfb

      SFrentier:

      You’re a complete fool if you think white people face racial discrimination to the same degree that minorities do. And there are much worse problems in the Mission than service issues at a restaurant, which you should know if you know anything about SF. You know, like the same kind of violence and income inequality problems you can find in those developing countries you just mentioned (to a lesser extent, but it’s still a problem)…countries you clearly mentioned just as an attempt to delegitimize people’s complaints about problems in SF.

      People fight for their lives every day in the mission and elsewhere in SF. Just because the wealthy, white, transplant gentrifiers aren’t included in that statistic doesn’t mean that tons of others don’t have a rough life in SF/the Mission.

      And if you can’t understand why the non-wealthy side of SF (AKA most of us) is increasingly angry and bitter as they get priced out of their home, while a bunch of wealthy transplants replace them–many of whom appear to show little respect for what was there before, due to classist or even racist reasons, on top of it all…well then I don’t know what to tell you.

      Damn, this city needs a lot more housing ASAP.

      • Oh geez

        OMG, you post the same crap VERBATIM on every single local blog or Facebook page. I guess at least now you’re trying to hide your identity so you must be somewhat aware of how crazy you sound.

      • Broken Record

        Ugh, you’re like a broken record posting the same weird landlord talking points on every single Mission blog or Facebook site. I guess now you’re hiding behind a pseudonym though so you probably have some realization about how unhinged you seem.

  31. Pax Et Amor

    It’s ironic that the initial incident which sparked these protests happened as a result of Cesar Chavez Day in 2013. Chavez was a disciple of Gandhi and King in the pursuit of nonviolence not just as a tactic but as a strategy. The group that has taken up this protest (ACCE) has strayed far afield from the principles of nonviolence (as can be seen in the ultimatum they posted). They are more in the tradition of violent revolutionaries and bullies. They do not speak for me or my Mission community.

  32. MD

    You Go Maria from ACCE.

  33. Mark

    What small and petty lives these activists lead. When did the Mission elect them to represent them or to decide who can claim they’re a local? That would be never. Race-baiting Chicanos and wannabe Chicanos caught shaking down a businessman.

  34. Dang

    I’ve lived in the Mission since 1991. If I boycotted every Mission District business that slighted me because of my ethnicity or the way I look, there would be many Latino-run restaurants I would have never returned to. It’s time for ACCE to let this go.

  35. Blindmansees

    What’s with all the name calling by some of the people in this thread? I support y the prerogative to openly criticize, but calling someone a bitch, a hack and assholes only diminishes your argument. More importantly, it unnecessarily personalizes things.

    Please treat people with respect here.

    • ThatGuy

      We’re trying to get the ASSES (ACCE?) to send Lydia a fucking letter. Mission “Local” needs sensitivity training.

      Fuck this shit.

  36. GR

    So the reason we know that certain kinds of people aren’t welcome to patronize their establishment is that those people were asked to relocate to a larger one of their establishments a few blocks away.

    That piece of logic is the basis of this entire protest.

    Wow.

    A Lowell schoolteacher is down with that reasoning? Jesus. I thought that was supposed to be a good school.

  37. Mike K

    We had guns the native Americans had bows and arrows. They lose every time

  38. Oh geez

    In this thread: angry white people.

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