The MacNiven family got the go-ahead from the Planning Department Thursday to open West of Pecos, a “rustic American-themed joint” at 500 Valencia St. However, they will have to stop selling alcohol at midnight on weekends and 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

The brothers, who run Woodhouse Fish Company on Market Street and on Fillmore Street, plan to take over the former Bombay Bazaar space, and open a 3,190-square foot American comfort food restaurant.

The full-service restaurant and bar could generate as many as 30 jobs.

Jamis MacNiven, the father of Dylan and Rowan, who owns Buck’s restaurant in Woodside, said he was grateful that the commission asked the family to go to community members earlier this year and get feedback on how they could make their projects a better fit for the Valencia corridor.

“We have re-evaluated who we were and it’s a lot more fun,” Jamis MacNiven said.

The family had planned to open an upscale Southwestern restaurant called Mohave that would use Native American ingredients. West of Pecos, Jamis MacNiven said will be much more affordable and casual.

Neighbor Amparo Vigil, the owner of Puerto Alegre, a Mexican restaurant that’s been here for more than 40 years, was especially concerned about the original restaurant concept because it was too close to what she serves.

The Vigil family has since talked with the MacNivens and come up with an agreeable new plan.

But at Thursday’s Planning Commission meeting, it was clear that all the Vigil siblings still feel threatened by West of Pecos.

Each one took turns speaking before the Commission, tearing up as they expressed their concerns.

“There’s been a lot that’s been coming very fast,” Patricia Virgil said referring to new restaurants on Valencia. “It’s a little overwhelming because we live there and we have our children there. We are a small business and we hope that we don’t get pushed out,” she said.

Although West of Pecos was unanimously approved by the commission, the conditional use request prompted a lengthy conversation about how to set comprehensive rules for all Valencia Street restaurants.

“When projects do come we need to make sure that everyone is playing by the same rules,” said PODER community organizer Oscar Grande.

Grande also said that the Commission needs to determine when to stop letting new restaurants come in.

With too many restaurants, Grande said, “it doesn’t become a community, it becomes a destination, a bridge and tunnel area.”

The MacNivens tried but failed to get the Commission to let them close later insisting that its the style of the street.

However, the Planning Commission agreed to study the closing times of restaurants in the area.

The retail space formerly used by Bombay Bazaar and Bombay Ice Creamery is “structurally unsound,” according to Chris Stokes because the roof collapsed.

Parmar has since relocated to 245 S Van Ness Ave.

Stokes said that the MacNivens will install a new roof, a new storefront to blend in better with the Valencia Street style, and a new sprinkler system.

Hélène Goupil

Hélène Goupil is a former editor at Mission Local who now works independently as a videographer and editor. She's the co-author of "San Francisco: The Unknown City" (Arsenal Pulp Press).

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7 Comments

  1. I can’t believe that a Mexican restaurant should be able to say that a Southwestern restaurant can’t open in the Mission! And the Planning Commission shouldn’t decide when there are enough restaurants in the Mission. There were restrictions on new restaurants in the Castro and 24th St in Noe Valley put into effect in the 1980’s (recently loosened) that propped up some bad restaurants in both neighborhoods, and is one reason that people in those neighborhoods had to come to the Mission for a decent meal. It’s understandable that older restaurants would want to deter competition, but it doesn’t make sense for the rest of us.

  2. I was at the hearing along with the Vigil family and I think Ms. Goupil failed to capture 2 core messages that where directed to the Planning Commission:

    1) Irresponsible landlords should not be rewarded. Planning Department staff are giving conditional use permits that reward negligent landlords like the owners of 550 Valencia. They let their property go to disrepair then pass off responsibility and costs on to small family-based merchants like Suresh Parmer of Bombay Bazarre. Poor Suresh (who is now located under the freeway on 13th & S. Van Ness) was evicted because the Health Dept. came and red tagged the building.

    The hyper speculative market on the Valencia St. Commercial Corridor are making it difficult for responsible local serving mom & pop businesses to survive. 550 Valencia is another case where a long-time local serving immigrant business was forcibly displaced because they could not afford the 100’s of thousands in structural and capital repairs. Landlords like 550 Valencia then cash in by leasing out to businesses with deeper pockets and readily available capital (west of pecos got 3 other restaurants to bank off of), who can pay for structural repairs and a much higher rent.

    2) The second point is that an over-saturation of alcohol establishments makes for bad planning and unhealthy communities. The Vigil’s bring a unique voice and perspective to the issues on Valencia St- for three generations they have ran a business and raised a family on that strip of commercial corridor. A community’s overall health is compromised when there is an over saturation of destination-type restaurants that depend on high volumes of alcohol sale as part of their bottom-line. On the block of Valencia between 16th & 17th there are 33 storefronts, of which 22 of them serve alcohol beverages. In this same area there are hundreds of low and moderate income families living in apartments, flats and single room hotels.

    At the hearing we asked the Planning Department and Commission to study these impacts and force planners to get out from behind their desks and do actual investigations and outreach in the community. Is this an isolated case or is there a trend that is inequitably affecting family-run mom and pop businesses by pricing them out of the neighborhood; while at the same time making it difficult for local working families to access and afford basic retail goods and services on their own block.

    1. Planning Department and Commission officials hardly leave their desks. They hold community meetings with the pretense of listening to neighbors, but go ahead with their own concepts of what’s hip and don’t really observe what’s really going on in the neighborhoods. Their EIR’s are a farce. They cut and paste analyses about traffic and weather effects and can’t explain anomalies in the developers’ plans. They just hope the public won’t scrutinize the plans or can’t digest the lengthy documents. And if the public does, they just gloss over/ignore
      them. 3 minutes each at a hearing? Hah! Their minds are already made up.

  3. Oh fer Pete’s sake!
    Then get ban the corner store from selling pints and single cans. Ban malt liquor sales.

    But don’t try to halt a decent joint that wants to open up.

    Shees! If I’d known poder was involved I would have spoken up sooner. What a bunch of nimby losers they are.
    Keep the Mission filthy, isn’t that its motto?

  4. “an over-saturation of alcohol establishments makes for bad planning and unhealthy communities”

    How does a nice restaurant contribute to the sidewalk drinking/drugs/filth in the community? Seems like it would help, no?

  5. Have fun, folks. It’s only going to get worse as poor folks vie with young well-paid techies for housing and services. Sushi or pork belly–can’t decide which one to eat today. Let’s name the 10 best parklets. Someone stole my $3,500 bike.
    Unhealthy situation with haves and have-nots.
    Siting these destination restaurants in the Mission is not very green. Oh, but I recycle everything. I can’t ride over on the #22. Where is my free (or valet) parking? Let’s eat local. Where can I get a bottle of pinot grigio for less than $18? I hear that the quail egg wrapped in prosciutto on a bed of braised turnip greens is divine.
    Garibaldi sandal heels are marked down to $240 from $490 at Lessie Fare’s on Lower Valencia. No, it’s called LowVal now–or is it InnMishVal or is SomaWest-1/2? Day of the Dead is next month; I hear all the great food trucks will be there.

  6. Everything in the Mission is about gentrification. Everything. All you have to do is dig a little, and there it is, regardless the apparent topic. What’s remarkable is that the Mission – and the Tenderloin, for that matter – have managed to remain so slummy and crime ridden for so long, given their location, location, location. Eventually, in spite of all the attempts to stave it off, gentrification succeeds. Demographic change is not all in one direction.

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