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The owners of the restaurant Schmidt’s on 20th and Folsom streets are in a bit of a schnitzel.

The upstairs neighbor has posted a sign with an arrow pointing to Schmidt’s.  “Bad Neighbors,”  it announces to anyone walking by.  For their part, the owners of the Berlin-style restaurant, say  the neighbor causes noise disturbances almost daily.  The landlord has told the owners that he doesn’t want to be involved and the police say they can’t yet jump in.

“We don’t know what to do,” said co-owner of the restaurant David Pierce.

“It’s not good advertisement,” added the other owner, Christiane Schmidt, referring to the sign that went up last weekend during Carnaval.

The upstairs neighbor Patricia Kerman and property owner Kaushik Dattani could not be reached for comment.

Schmidt’s relationship with Kerman has been bad since Schmidt’s opened in May 2009. Back then Kerman complained about a kitchen fan that made too much noise – Schmidt said that while it took her three weeks to make repairs, she was able to muster the $2,000 to do it.

It did not stop there. Kerman called a restaurant inspector and staff members have allegedly seen her talk to customers before they come in and telling them she became ill from eating there, Schmidt said.

Kerman was described as a woman in her late 50s and has lived there for at least the 14 years that Dattani has owned the building.  Before Schmidt’s, the location was left vacant by El Farito market for more than a year.

Schmidt, originally from Germany, said she doesn’t know why Kerman thinks she’s a bad neighborhood. Schmidt also owns Walzwerk, on South Van Ness Avenue.

Ravick Ruiz, a neighbor who has lived next door for eight years, defended Schmidt’s.

“At first, I was a concerned that they were going to play loud music and have people outside making noise,” he said. “But they didn’t so I think they are good neighbors.”

Another neighbor, who knows Kerman and wanted to be anonymous for fear of retaliation, said Kerman’s assessment is unsubstantiated.

Because of the circumstances, restaurants in mixed-used buildings like Schmidt’s find themselves with no real options to solve their dispute unless it escalates to the point where more serious legal action is required.

“We don’t want to get to that point,” Pierce said. “And certainly it won’t escalate because of us.”

Pierce and Schmidt took the police’s advice to mediate the problem through the Community Boards, but to no avail.

Kay Suk, of the Community Boards  Program said there is nothing they can do if one of the parties refuses to go through mediation — which is so far the case with Kerman.

The community board process requires both parties to meet at a neutral location with three mediators to discuss the issues. The Community Boards have an 80-90 percent success rate, Suk said.

Schmidt said they had a meeting with their landlord, but his only suggestion was that they call police when there is noise.

The owners took his advice, but they can do very little with noise complaints and the “bad neighbor” sign is freedom of speech.

The sign is already having an impact, Schmidt said.

The staff has had to explain the problem to customers and at one point someone came inside and used sign language to say shame.

On Thursday afternoon, Schmidt’s called the police again for a noise complaint that was described by Schmidt as someone dropping a bowling ball.

Kerman did not open the door when they knocked and the officer said to keep calling to document the incidents. At some point the restaurant owners will be able to file a restraining order, the officer told them.

This is something Schmidt said she doesn’t want to do, but will. Moving is also not an option.

Pierce and Schmidt have spent some $100,000 on the restaurant, and Schmidt said she is in debt from opening Schmidt’s.

“I don’t want to go – I like this corner,” Schmidt said.

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare...

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56 Comments

  1. Why doesn’t the upstairs neighbor just move to the suburbs if she doesn’t like city noise?

  2. How unfortunate that a 50 something-old child could impact someone’s hard work so much. Patricia, you live in a mixed-use building. There’s going to be noise. If you really want to be perceived as an adult. Mediate. Christina, don’t give up. We love that people are taking chances and opening up restaurants in our “hood”.

  3. I’m going for lunch tomorrow. Absolutely outrageous. Recommend neighbors support Schmidt’s with our dollars. What do you bet Kerman is voting according to the Bay Guardian’s recommendations, and considers herself to be a “revolutionary” “struggling” against “bourgeois” gentrification?

  4. How about they put a sign with an arrow pointing up saying, ” Crazy Lady Upstairs”. (freedom of speech)
    🙂

  5. My neighbors are worse. They constantly block in a narrow driveway so there is 18inches to pass, and so the trash can’t get picked up and you can’t pass by with a bag, yet they act unaware of this. They are too confused to recycle. They pay our building’s utilities every 3 months or so. The noise from the street is louder than a restaurant could be

  6. Sounds like Mrs. Upstairs Neighbor is something of a … witch on wheels. Some people just get off on being a huge pain in the bum.

    (Note: Comment edited)

  7. i like schmidts. i eat there all the time. they are good neighbors and support the local businesses, employees go to the local salons, etc. i like them. eat their food.

  8. I have met Patricia a few times at a nearby bar and can say that she is totally nuts

  9. Eating at Schmidts tomorrow!! Small business need our support especially in this economic climate — add a poop neighbor trying to mess with your income! Yesh. Time for a little beer and vinersinzel (sp?)

  10. …Maybe she shouldn’t be living at 20th and Folsom if she is seeking peace and quiet. ….
    (comment edited)

  11. I’ve been to both restaurants, and can testify that they are very clean, very pleasant, and the owners are respectful of their neighborhoods.

  12. I’ve been to Schmidt’s once and it was awesome. Great staff, very friendly and knowledgeable on two of my favorite things: food and beer.

    It’s really a shame that some people are so selfish as to put their limited energy into something so negative. It’s a perpetuating cycle that must contribute to their irrational behavior. What a pity.

    Anyway, keep rocking Schmidt’s, you have the support of the people!

  13. I’ve been meaning to check out Schmidt’s for a while. Now I really want to support them. I live near an awesome restaurant (Universal Cafe) and the bustle around it improves my neighborhood, in my opinion.

  14. Schmidt’s is a good restaurant and, even when full, it is not particularly raucous. Without knowing what complaints the upstairs lady has it is tough to judge. On the other hand, the fact that she is not willing to explain herself or go to mediation makes me willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Schmidt’s.

  15. I like Gigi’s suggestion: point a sign u saying: “crazy lady upstairs!”
    you guys have turned this corner around and everybody loves you..

  16. It’s remarkable how one insane person-can take the hard work of creating & sharing delicious ideas w/ the community-into something “bad”..
    The Schmidt’s people are some of the greatest people I have known in the last 13yrs in SF…

  17. Schmidt’s is fantastic. Unfortunately there are lots of crazy residents in SF who forget that they live in a mixed use building in the middle of a city.

  18. ….
    Sorry Chrissi and David ou have to go trough such humiliation of your hard work.
    I is sad and hope you can resolve that …
    Love you guys and support you whatever you do !!!!!!!!!

    (Edited)

  19. Schmidt’s is terrific. I can’t imagine that they are bad neighbors, and it sounds like they are doing all they can to accommodate Ms. Kerman. I was planning on staying in tonight, but now I feel like I must go support my local German joint.

  20. I’m going to Schmidt’s for lunch in solidarity of all those who have to put up with unpleasant people, and besides, the food is super tasty! (I’m glad to have an excuse)

  21. I’ll be by to try Schmidt’s for some lunch or something this week. This Patricia Kerman does sound like some one with mental health problems….but that IS NO EXCUSE. She needs to be stopped….and if we can stop her by eating at Schmidts than that’s what we should do. Support your local neighborhoods…crazy lady be damned.

  22. Wowzie! … As a self employed individual living in SF. Very difficult to survive.Schmidt’s is a wonderful addition to the many delicious eateries in this fine city! Your honesty and integrity will over come this evil neighbor .Best wishes!

  23. Never been to Schmidt’s, but now that Ms. Kerman has pointed it out, I will be sure to try it.

  24. I love Schmidt’s, and I plan to keep going back. If it would make the upstairs neighbor happy, I’ll gladly take over her lease and install a fire pole so I can get a beer even faster when the mood hits me.

  25. I can tell you a few things. That restaurant is impeccable in both the simplicity of it’s design and the integrity of it’s food and service. Anyone should be so lucky to have such an establishment in their building. I’ve been there many times late and I can tell you it is a cool yet demure crowd that never gets loud or out of control. The owners are huge supporters and employers of the mission and it’s people. That lady needs to leave the area, perhaps a suburb or country setting where she can retire in peace.

  26. I’ve met Christiane Schmidt, and she is a saint. She has gone out of her way to be accommodating, and Schmidt’s could not be a better or more tame place.

    (Edited)

  27. You people should be ashamed of yourselves! You have no idea what’s going on here!

    David Pierce and his wife are liars and this story is a one sided piece of crap!

    The equipment that Schmidt’s had installed on the roof of the building wasn’t just loud it was shaking Patricia’s flat 16 hours a day and it’s still as loud as a buss passing by constantly all day every day. After five weeks of literally shaking her life apart without Schmidt’s doing anything, even communicating, Patricia had a nervous break down. That’s when Schmidt’s finally did something about the shaking.

    David Pierce and his wife are …. bad neighbors. Furthermore the food is bland and overpriced, I made the grave mistake of eating there once for lunch and once for dinner before the shit hit the fan. Save your snarky know nothing comments about Patrica and your money, walk one more block to Heirloom on Folsom and 21st.
    (edited)

  28. Manny: Thank you for your comment. The reporter tried to contact Ms. Kerman and the landlord, but got no response. After the article came out, Ms. Kerman contacted the reporter and today he interviewed her. We will be posting another story later this week.
    Best, Lydia Chavez, ME.

  29. After the health inspector responded to patricias call, he said that her stove was “rigged up” to rattle intentionally. He said he just budged the kettlte an inch and the shaking stopped. He also had a noise meter and obviously, the noise was not too loud. If it had been than Schmidt’s would have been forced to make further repairs

  30. Mr. Hernandez;
    I am Patricia Kerman’s friend and have been speaking with her about the situation with Schmidt’s owners since they began the process to open the restaurant.
    Early on Ms. Kerman found that Mr. Pierce had misinformed her regarding the days and hours the restaurant would be open. This may have annoyed her, but she was dealing with that.
    The problem that needs correcting is not the simply noise of the fan but the vibrations as well.
    Just imagine it; the neighbors put in some equipment that shakes your whole apartment for up to twelve hours a day six to seven days a week as the electrical hum distracts one from carrying on conversation. And, the epicenter of the constant rattle and hum is the kitchen. Ms. Kerman finds herself unable to face cooking and eating with the incessant quaking and droning.
    She spoke with Mr. Price right away and asked him to ameliorate the problem while she was visiting family in the Midwest over a 3 week period. He agreed to see to it. Yet, when she returned nothing had happened. She says his only response to her query as to why there was no change was that she hadn’t complained again so he figured there was no longer any problem. I visited the flat above Schmidt’s around at that time and after only ten minutes I could understand the agitation Ms. Kerman was suffering. The sensation of the whole place and everything in it just quaking, shaking and rattling was irritating and enervating. Months and months of this began to have a deleterious effect on Ms. Kerman. I and other of her friends grew concerned about her. She was frequently upset, close to tears and we were afraid for her health because she could not eat.
    I know that Mr. Price and Ms. Schmidt finally had some work done, but, to the best of my knowledge, this was after the police had visited them and mentioned the distress Ms. Kerman was suffering from the noise and vibration of the equipment. The vibrations have lessened, but they have not stopped and the hum of the machinery is still very distracting.
    I was in the flat yesterday between the lunch and dinner hours when no one is working in the restaurant, so the equipment was on standby (not shaking everything at that moment) and the electrical sound of the equipment still overwhelmed speaking. The kitchen and air-shaft of that flat were Ms. Kerman and her housemates’ only refuge from the hustle and bustle of Folsom Street; now that has been destroyed.
    Ms. Kerman and her roommates have tried to find a way to work this out with the restaurateurs but I have never heard that Price and Schmidt ever suggested arbitration. If the owners spent $2000 to make repairs, perhaps they need to get their money back as repairs have not been effectively achieved.
    As to Ms. Kerman making noise, she doesn’t own a bowling ball. In the more than 23 years I’ve known her, I have never heard of her bowling. Besides she is in her own apartment and I don’t imagine any noise one small woman could make could ever be as irksome and debilitating as the unremitting torture of unbroken mechanically induced seismic activity and electrical whirring.
    Oh, and Ms. Kerman tried to respond to the reporter before the article was published, but they ended up playing phone tag and the reporter decided it was more important to meet the deadline than to get her comments.

    1. IrishH:

      Thank you for your comment. I spoke to Ms. Kerman Yesterday and I heard her side. I am currently working on a follow up article that will be published soon. In response to Ms. Kerman’s phone call, my phone records show that the only phone call I received from Ms. Kerman was on Tuesday, one day after the article was published. Ms. Kerman and I spoke about this very same issue yesterday and asked her to show me her phone records but as I recall she did not have that information at the time.

      Again, thank you for your comment.

  31. Trepverter, you have no idea what you are talking about. You didn’t feel the constant shaking first hand. David Liar Pierce came up and felt it himself and promised to do something about it and then he wouldn’t return any calls for five weeks. I don’t know where you get your information but if you adopted the policy of keeping your mouth shut when you don’t know what you’re talking about you wouldn’t make such a fool of yourself.

  32. I spoke to the health inspector after he visited what I now assume is your appartment “manny”. I am sharing information that I feel is beneficial to this story and will not resort to the childish behavior you have exhibited by calling me a fool.

  33. Trepverter;
    I assume you are someone involved with the restaurant because the person Patricia called in would have had no reason to speak with a stranger off the street regarding his visit to her flat. So, your dig at Manny cuts both ways.
    As I recall Patricia spoke with a noise abatement official. She said that person came and she placed a piece of cookware on the stove in his presence to demonstrate the severity of the rattling when she would try to use her stove. The noise abatement official did not even measure the decibel levels because the vibration issue is not his department.
    Manny Festo did not call you a fool. Rather he said you are making a fool of yourself. Reading your comments, I find that highly likely.

  34. Give me a break Ms. Kerman supporters! As a person in the neighborhood, I’ve personally seen her bad mouth businesses on multiple occasions. Harassing the building owners across the street from Schmidt’s, for having security lights on at night… If she is such a victim, then please explain her throwing things out her window, potentially harming patrons of Schmidts, calling the health department on Schmidt’s, telling people the owner of Schmidt’s is a Nazi, stopping people on the street to discourage Schmidt’s patronage and YES jumping up and down and rolling bowling balls a cross her floor!!!! Funny how once this article came out, the daily harassment from her has stopped (for the moment)…..!

  35. @”Manny”: it is tough to take you very seriously when you resort to calling people fools, telling them to shut up, and claiming that Schmidt’s food is bland and overpriced. I suppose there are somethings that are a matter of opinion, but your use of invective just makes you come across as bitter and vindictive. I obviously don’t know all the facts regarding this story, but nothing you have posted has garnered any sympathy from me.

  36. So, many of you feel that businesses in the neighborhood have the right to unilaterally make changes that negatively affect people who have lived in the area for a decade or more.
    If a proprietor of a shop puts up lights that shine directly into your living space, you’d have no problem. I kind of find that hard to believe.
    I suspect that there is a lack of empathy going on here.
    What would you actually do if somebody nonchalantly altered the peace of your home with powerful beams or an awful racket and then dismissed you requests to deal with it month after month?
    Would you simply say nothing more and move away from your home? (I just don’t see that as most folks’ response.) Or, might you try to stand up for yourself and your right to be treated fairly by newcomers.
    This isn’t a situation where Ms. Kerman has come from the outside and is trying to drive out long established night spots.
    Schmidt’s has downplayed their responsibility in this. They need to effectively dampen the sound and vibration of the piece of electrical equipment they installed and the issue would be resolved. What’s so hard to understand about that?

  37. Clearly the lady seems to have offended numerous people in the neighborhood and doesn’t only have an issue with Schmidt’s. It seems to be just her newest target. Also, she choose to live above a commercial space. Good for her that it worked out the last 15 years, but afterall: she is a renter, if she doesn’t like it, she is free to move. I am sure, Schmidt’s had to install whatever equipment is complaining about by regulations and I am sure, it passed building inspection. From what I understand, her issue is that her tea cattle is rattling when it is on the stove? That’s why she is playing with the livelihood of 20 some people working at the restaurant? Can’t wait to hear her side of the story.

  38. Support SF Small businesses and go to Schmidt’s. Great food, great ambiance. Tenants in SF think they have ownership rights granted by God in their apartments. They don’t.

  39. I ate at Schmidt’s last night. They are nice people, and quite frankly, this woman sounds like a crazy cat lady.

    So, dear crazy cat lady, move to Palo Alto or something if you don’t like noise. Or the Outer Sunset. Why on earth do you live above a commercial space if you don’t like noise?

    1. I have been caught up with other work and I am also awaiting for a public records request to be fulfilled. I am planning on coming out with a draft for my editor as soon as thats done. Thank for your comment.

  40. I am definitely going to go try this restaurant. Thank you for your being such a good neighbor, Ms. Kerman!!!

  41. For what I can tell there is three sides to this story…the restaurant version, the neighbor version and what really happened, so I think they should just meet somewhere in the middle, apologize to each other and learn to coexist.

  42. Schmidt’s is the best! The staff are amazing and the food is delicious. I would hate to see this restaurant close!

  43. noise is increasing in commercial areas w/o the consent or knowledge of residents.
    machinery is texas-sized, and decibel meter readings are not conducted by the city between 10pm-7am. and the city makes the big bucks from taxes from these establishments so they turn a blind eye.
    the new noise legislation is not enforced. unlike other cities, sf does not have vibration control, and this is a huge problem, health-wise.
    the thing about sf is that people live above the shops. it used to be that the owner of the shop lived upstairs and knew all the neighbours.
    all noise laws apply to all residents equally.
    all citizens have the right to peace and privacy and quiet enjoyment of life in their residence.
    although ms kerman could file for a decrease in services, it would not take the noise away and she would still be miserable.

    the noise is not her fault.

    the city is catering more and more to people who have money at their disposal to eat out all the time.

    people used to shop for their meals, cook them at home, and eat with their family or community.

    we now have take out, take out trash bloating the landfills because of the constant need for instant gratification.

    shame on you people calling this woman crazy, telling her to move to the suburbs.
    she had her rights taken right out from under her, and it’ll happen to you , too at some point, as it is happening more and more in our world.

    the erosion of civil rights is something that comes on slowly, yet has a ripple effect, undiscernible until it hits as a big wave. then people cry, when they had a hand in it themselves all along.

    sf is all about big money now. high rents, evictions of long-term tenants who are in rent-controlled flats or small business owners who can’t pay the rents that whole foods, la boulange, pasta pomodoro,gap, old navy, all chains stores can.

    homelessness is on the rise.
    art, physical education, music programs are being cut from schools so kids grow up to be slaves working for bio-tech, tech, 80+ hours/week with the resulting “need” for restaurants, nail salons, entertainment, on-line everything because people are out of touch with real, human, basic needs .

    so then they have no idea that the person or people who live/s over the loud cool taqueria, tapas, waffle, crepe, pizzeria , bar, anything-that-you-want-any-time-of-day-you-want-it
    is/are being affected in a very primal way to the core of their being.

    to those who have commented on the great establishment this is:
    you come, you eat, you leave.

    when you return to your homes, is it condusive to your well-being? other’s well-being?
    if it were not, would you just leave instead of trying to make it better?
    if you caused your neighbour grief would you leave? or would you tell them to leave if they didn’t like it?
    does everyone come, take, then leave?

  44. Jane honey, I’ve lived over a business for more than 10 years and yes, we’ve had our issues – but I’ve never done anything to affect their business (ok, I’ve thought it but I’ve never actually done it because that would be fucked up and wrong). Instead, I’ve handled our problems through the owner’s and through mediation (SF Rent Board mediators are fucking awesome!)

    ¡Viva el Schmidt’s!

  45. IrishH and other simpaticos, you are painting her as THE ONLY victim here when we all know that isn’t the case. She is justified in her retaliations. Really?

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