By SHALWAH EVANS

Urban Burger offers the Big Kahuna, which comes with grilled pineapples, Swiss cheese, grilled onions, lettuce and teriyaki glaze–all on a mound of cooked beef of course.    It’s just one of the specialty burgers offered on the menu of the Mission District eatery that recently went from soon to be to opened to operating.

The restaurant is one of more than a half dozen empty storefronts that have changed status since April when Mission Loc@l last looked behind the vacancies along the Valencia Street corridor.

Abe, who said he owns Urban Burger, but declined to give his full name said that the restaurant is doing well considering the current economic crisis.  Decorated with graffiti art and quotes like “We Grill You Chill,” and “Nice Buns,” along the walls, the place opened in May and buzzes with a variety of customers.  The owner said that the weekends are even busier than the weekdays.

“It’s been a good start, thinking about the way the economy is right now,” he said.

Other new openings include Xanath, an ice cream store, Mission Bikes and Casa Bonampak–a store that sells clothes, and folk art among other things with Latin American roots. In all, the number of available storefronts has dropped to seven from 13.

Abe from Urban Burger said he’s in the process of getting a beer and wine permit.  His biggest complaint: the nearby vacancies that are eyesores.

Three vacant stories—the Charles Phan promise—are across the street.  Mission Loc@l pursued Phan at Slanted Door for an update on his Mission property, but after promising e-mails from his wife and business partner, Phan never returned phone calls.

Since he left the Mission in 2002, he’s opened up places in SOMA , The Ferry building and another Out the Door in Pacific Heights.  His business partner Lien Ho said that while the Phans still own the property on Valencia Street, it would be a while before they moved forward with any plans.

Just a few blocks north on Valencia is Fix, a skincare boutique.  The shop at Duboce Street offers facials, waxing, and even eyelash extensions.

“People come in an ask if we do hair and nails.  We don’t,” said part-owner Leslie Nichols.  “Our treatments are more geared at getting results.”

Nichols, who lives near Dolores Park, said she always wanted to own a neighborhood shop and found the space, the former home of Soundworks, walking by one day.

Its location near Four Barrels and Zeitgeist has been beneficial, and she and her partner have brought their downtown clients to the Mission and they’re feeling optimistic.

“When you feel shitty financially you want to feel pretty,” she said. “Skincare should be simple but effective.”

Four of six places went from For Sale to Sale Pending,including the New College package.

See the map below for an update.

Click below for a link to the map:
http://www.zeemaps.com/map?group=129175

Total: 32

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5 Comments

  1. So, vacant storefronts are bad for a neighborhood, and the longer they are vacant, the worse they are – do we agree?

    If so, howsabout a modification to the way retail real estate is taxed – the longer it stays vacant, the higher the tax? Property owners need a financial incentive to rent retail properties, and given the way some storefronts stay vacant for WAY too long, that incentive needs to be more than just the rent they’ll receive. What do you think?

  2. @1: Brilliant solution; encourage economic development by increasing taxes. Maybe instead the City should focus on making it easier to open a business. Sure it is easy (and politically correct!) to demonize landlords, but maybe you should consider that excessive regulation and taxes are what drive businesses away.

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