More than 40 years ago, two American men came into Rafael Porras’ tailor shop in Acapulco, Mexico. They asked him to fix a pair of pants.
The two men were so impressed with the results that they offered him a job as a designer in their clothing manufacturer in San Francisco. A year later he parted ways with the company over a royalties dispute, with a green card in hand. Porras opened a small tailoring shop at 3292 22nd Street, and named it Rafael’s Tailoring.
He spent the next 40 years there, tailoring and sewing clothes for mariachis, writers and a host of other characters in the neighborhood – some regular folks, some oddballs.
Recently, Porres was notified that his month-to-month lease would not be renewed. This week, the 80-year-old tailor and his sole employee will move several blocks to 3133 22nd St., at South Van Ness Avenue.
His next-door neighbor, Hair Illusions also moved out in May after more than 15 years in the building. Gladys Perez the former owner, is now the head stylist at The Hair Place and More down the street.
Perez said that she moved because the rent, which she did not specify, had increased and couldn’t pay it.
J.J. Panzer, a broker with the Real Management Company who manages the property did not return calls for a comment.
The departure of these long time commercial tenants shows the increasingly changing face of the 22nd Street corridor. It now boasts an organic frozen yogurt place, a smoking lounge and an Escape From New York Pizza, all of which opened last year.
Perez’s former place will now be Pretty Pretty Collective, a hair salon & art gallery. A next-door neighbor in the same building, Boogaloos, is eying Porras’ place, though restaurant manager Peter Hood said it’s too early to tell if they will move there.
Hood, who is also the co-owner of St. Francis Fountain, did confirm that they are expanding the fountain to the next-door shop on 24th Street, where the Candy Kitchen Lingerie boutique closed earlier this year.
According to a post at the non-profit micro lending service Kiva.org, where the owner of the Pretty Pretty Collective received a loan, a soft opening is scheduled on July 15– the same day Porras is scheduled to leave.
As for Porras, he said that he knew he had a good run at the building. When he opened the shop in the 1970s, the rent for the space then was $75. There is no rent control for commercial spaces, but for years, his rent for the space stayed below $500. He will pay more than $2,000 for his new location at 3133 22nd street.
“They were always very considerate of me,” he said of the owners. “I feel weird that I will leave this place –but not sad.”
Porras said he didn’t want to fight the change to his lease. Lawyers told him there was little he could do. And, he says, he wanted to stay in good health. He is diabetic and previously had open-heart surgery.
He said he hopes that his customers he won over the years will follow him to his new location.
“I am like a comet,” he said, followed by a long pause.” Always leaving a trail and hoping the stars would follow me.”