The former Fizzary — the site of an illegal gambling den and purported brothel — after it was tagged by its owner Taylor Peck in 2015. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros.

An illegal gambling den and brothel in the Mission District that has been the site of a shooting and multiple calls to the police in the past few months is seemingly immune to closure, despite frequent raids from law enforcement.

“The police have been here six times, and they come in and take the liquor, but [the people] get let go,” said Manny Torres, the owner of the Coco Frio restaurant two doors down. Torres said two of his dishwashers frequent the club — which he described as “basically a bunch of guys gambling away their paychecks” — and have been arrested by the police only to be released the next day.

“Every night there’s a party, every night they get arrested, and the next morning they get let go,” he said, saying that twice he has gone out to smoke a cigarette behind his restaurant to find police armed with shotguns conducting a raid on the club and telling him to go back inside. 

The club, located at 2949 Mission St., is the most active between 2 a.m and 5 a.m., Torres said, but will stay open until people leave, sometimes through the late morning. Employees of nearby businesses described carts of alcohol being brought in and empty bottles heaved out, with groups of up to 10 people entering the club at once.

But it’s not just a gambling den, Torres and others say. Some report prostitution at the illicit venue as well.

“It’s basically a whorehouse, a bar, and a gambling casino,” Torres said.

A local resident who visited the club a few weeks ago said he and a friend were walking in the neighborhood after a night out when they spoke to someone on the street who told them of the “after hours club.”

“We got there and someone opened the gate and frisked us and let us in,” he said. “We thought it was just a place where we could drink and listen to music, but within 10 minutes we saw that there was much more going on.”

The resident said some 25 people were drinking and gambling at the club, and that he saw cards and cash on the surface of a pool table. Upstairs, he said, prostitutes and drugs were available.

“There were two or three middle-aged women wearing mini-skirts that kept going up and down the stairs,” he said, adding that women would go up and down with a man every 10 minutes. “After a while, we got curious and went upstairs and saw the gambling, cocaine use, and in a dark room the ladies were offering oral sex.”

Torres said his employees had also spoken of prostitutes, though he had never seen any women enter the building himself. The club’s culture, however, is not exactly discreet.

“They’re doing it in the open, it’s not like they’re hiding. This is like a Tahoe casino. ‘Hey, can I have a tequila? Can I have a vodka?’ ” Torres said. “You can just go in.”

Illegal gambling clubs are a citywide issue and such a nuisance in the Excelsior that Supervisor John Avalos held a hearing on the subject in October, hoping for more attention to and effective enforcement on the issue.  

At the time, the Ingleside Station police captain said the clubs were elusive because they easily close up shop and move elsewhere, meaning the police must begin the enforcement process — surveilling the site, obtaining probable cause, and executing a warrant — all over again.

It’s possible the Mission Street location is simply a transplant of a different club. Torres said his employees used to go gambling at a spot somewhere on 30th Street — until that spot moved next door.

“They do it all the time,” Torres said of the clubs moving. “They moved from 30th. They were there and then they moved.”

But to residents, the lack of enforcement is baffling.

“I don’t know how the cops have not shut it down,” said local resident Carter, who declined to give a last name. He has called the police several times and has spied plainclothes officers staking out the den and serving warrants, but is baffled that the casino and alleged brothel remains in business.

“None of us understand how it’s possible for them to still be operating,” he said. “Everything you think about the law actually doing something, this is like a flagrant violation.”

The frustration is shared by Taylor Peck, the owner of the former Fizzary, a soda and candy shop that used to occupy the gambling space. Peck lives in the building and is the master tenant of the space. He leased it out in September to a couple claiming they would be opening a vitamin shop, Capp Street Crap reported.

On Sunday, Peck tagged his own facade with graffiti reading “Hey SFPD, illegal club,” with arrows pointing downward, Capp Street Crap reported. He also graffitied “illegal” and “dangerous” on the sidewalk in front of the club and called out the fire department and Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, writing that the space was a “fire trap.”

The former Fizzary, now the site of an illegal gambling den. Photo by Joe Rivano Barros

Captain Daniel Perea of Mission Station declined to comment, but a police spokesperson said the club is under surveillance. Without evidence that a crime is being committed, however, officers are hamstrung in their ability to root out illicit activity.

“We can’t force entry into an establishment unless we have probable cause,” police spokesperson Carlos Manfredi said. “In the meantime, our officers are documenting every incident, we have increased patrols around the area, and we are working with [city agencies] in solving this problem.”

Manfredi also said that Peck has not filed a police report nor made himself available to police. The building owner, Roberto T. Sanchez, has filed for eviction against Peck and his subtenants, Manfredi said, but that process could take some time.

Peck countered that he was working directly with a police lieutenant, and said he went to file a police report on Wednesday only to be told that there were already several reports associated with him.

In the meantime, residents must contend with the loud music, late-night guests, and possible violence.

“My business has been completely collapsed,” said Torres. The restaurateur has opened three other spots in the Mission — Mr. Pollo, the Palace Steakhouse, and Roxy’s Cafe — and says his restaurants “always take off right away.” But not this one.

“The only thing that’s different is that place next to me,” he said. “It makes the block look really bad.”

And Peck is up against a wall. Though he didn’t comment to Mission Local, Peck told Capp Street Crap that he is “in a really frustrating situation” and that his graffiti spree was “a last-ditch effort to get some assistance [and] attention.”

“He has done everything he can,” Torres said of Peck. “Every time he does something, these guys know, they already know what to do. It’s very frustrating.”

This post has been updated to reflect Taylor Peck’s comment about his cooperation with police. You can listen to an interview with Peck below, or at BFF.fm 

Join the Conversation

21 Comments

  1. First put big spotlights at the front of the building so that it is super bright at night. Then, place a camera at the door and publish the faces of every person going in and out of that club. As the owner of the property, this is a legal move. I’m sure the neighbors won’t mind the brightness if they know the reason. Have the video posted in live time to you tube so we can all see who the hookers, johns, pimps and gamblers are.

    It may deter some of the patrons hurting the biz just enough to get them to move. HItting them in the pocketbook is the most effective way to stop illegal businesses. The police have their hands tied as SF does not like to prosecute criminals for fear of political backlash. If you want to save your business, you must take matters in to your own hands.

  2. I agree. I would like to see what the hookers look like as well. That’s just the worst when you get there and the hookers are nassssty. Thanks for the tip!

  3. If they’re letting random people off the streets inside, why can’t they just send in some plain clothes policemen undercover?

  4. I hate to be disagreeable but San Francisco has always had gambling “shacks” and other such colorful frivolity available to locals and visitors alike. Why are these uptight shop owners making such a stink? The two streams of society one the ordinary mostly law abiding social conformists and the illicit underbelly world have pretty much always coexisted since the Barbary Coast days of this funloving, tolerant citys inception. Come on, now! Stop being so uptight for crying outloud!

    The police have always earned extra money to feed their familys while allowing places like said article objects to perpetuate happily. Look, this city is like old New Orleans, its wholly corrupt. Look at the relationship between the scumbag East Indian hotel slumlord family, the Patels who earn enormous dollars off the backs odf homeless drug addicts who are routinely injured in their claptrap chronic state of regulatory non compliance.

    Why do the Patels flourish despite violating every possible regulation by every level of govt?

    Because the hotel property and the land they operate on is actually leased from the city itself.

    San Francisco majes big bucks from this slumlord Indian mafia syndicate family. I know because I informally dyed them once on behalf of an injured party in one hotel at Polk and Eddy.

    A reliable source that worked for the city disclosed the interesting relationship between the Patels and the city to me.

    Not that I was surprised having dealt with Auto Run, formerly City Tow, all of my driving life which spans decades.

    This city affiliated towing racketeer tows cars in illegal zones and boits cars for tickets. If your car is tows it costs 700.00$ to get your car back just in one day! Everyday it goes up 300.00$. Very quickly you lose your car at those extortion levels. Then they auction your car off and pocket the money.

    Essentially this city govt authorized mafia style tow company is allowed to flourish. With one car I had hijacked by them, it was stolen from my driveway while I was watching tv in the livingroom, completely unaware that several black teenagers were confiscating my vehicle for its cnvenence over taking thebusvdowntown just a few feet from me.

    They abandoned the vehicle downtown on Kearny street, where the predatory tow company than jacked it for their piece of my flesh too. To my indignation and rage, as a crime victim, I was nevertheless forced to pay those second crime wave tow crooks off to retrieve it.

    Okay!? So this crooked city hall allows this type of thing. You live here long enough and I gaurantee you will have a run in with Auto Tow.

    Probably not obvious to newcomers but certaunly to locals, our mayor is a scumbag, payola from the highest bidder who betrayed the locals he represented and sold the city out to the highest bidder. I would guess hes in with the other Chinese politicians here who are associated with Chinese gangs like our now defamed Chinesevstate senator who was picked up for gunrunning and other types of gang racketeering activities.

    Look, the whole lot of them are dirty. This city has payola through and through people. Do you really think anyone wants to shut off the spigot of kickbacks that grease their family when the economy doesnt pay jackshit to to SFs finest? Come on you naifs, get with it. Youre not that stupid are you?

    Why does nothing happen to this hopping little whorehouse where men drink themselves stupid and lose their paycheck? Because their loss is everyone elses gain.

    I found out about the shacks some two years ago for the first time. Ive lo lived here my entire life. A russian mobster, and a tranny ganbler, hustler pimp took me on a whirlwind tour through the city at the wee hours to broken down, closed up storefronts that evinced an open door inside to a writhing gambling scene going 24/7.

    I confess, I refused the offer to enter any one of them. I was scared and thought that gangsters and posiible gunplay could erupt at such a venue pretty easily. I know just from waging stupid the city streets having almost taken a stray bullet here and there, that this was a trigger happy, pistol toting kind of town.

    I just didn’t want to dodge another bullet and hear again, what a miracle it is that Im alive today

    I could go into more stories and details… I could tell you more illicit stories from the underground, but the naifs wouldnt be able to handle it.

    What you people who dont know or understand about this city is that it’s like an onion. There one set of people doing a certain reality. They are the regular home feeling surface driving worker bees. Just like many of the populace- the normative reality that Galkup polls and we see across the back fence. But what you don’t know is that there are multiple realities, subcultures and existences in this city that are totally outside of your awareness. They thrive and pulse 24/7 some of themn. But yes, peel it back like an onion and it will be revealed that this city is very deep, with many layers. Dont read this place at face value. You are just out of these loops in this town. It’s funny, they know you all are there, but you dont know of them.

    It’s funny when you gain entre to the other worlds and realities here in this magical city. It usedvto be sweet magical forever for me.

    But now it’s turned into a black magic, mean, scary nasty kind of metropolis. The sectors are almost warring now. The police wont enforce to the domiciled, taxpaying residents frustration and dismay. This city is off the hook. Its like Amsterdam w needles hanging off the trees. Trust me this laxness by police authority is by design.

    Stop being petty bourgeisie and start looking at the big picture. Your enemy isnt the black crackhead defecating on the sidewalk in front of your Victorian split. Look at the big guys. Not the poor addled sonofabitch just trying to get high and forget his shitty existence. Look at who is running the whole shebang. Who is making the big bucks and neglecting the public sphere conpletely in this little city?

    Get with it and focus your misdirected anger and frustration at the real culprits. Those who could give a damn about your illusion and fantast of establishing your safe, neighborly, secure little community subzones in this town.

    The concerns are petty. The issues and whats at stake are far more serious and will effect the neighborhood clatch people in ways that are unimaginable.

    In the meantime lighten up. This isn’t a New England puritan town w liquor prohibitions on Sundays. This is a whore loving, anything goes kinda off the hook hedonist, party town that was started by a bunch of crazy forty niner minors who to’ this town up and down!

    You guys arnt the only power players at the table in this many faceted, dusky jewel of a town. It glows and beckons all comers into a labyrinth of strange dreams, if you let it. If you want more. That is If you really want to know this city, on an intimate basis just walk around and speak to the people even if you are not accustomed to some of them. Or just stick to your Disneyland world, if you cant handle anything more than the mundane life we all know too well.

    1. amazing piece of writing! Question: Why aren’t people like you doing pieces for the Chronicle?
      Answer: Freedom of the Press is an illusion when the Press is bought off.

      1. I don’t know? I would love a job writing for the Chroncle, or any writing job in this city that writes about this city. I’ve lived here since my infancy in the early sixties. I was shimmying to,”Tainted Love” when that haunting of the back beat song topped the charts in the early eighties. I cannot believe that we actually thought we were really cool wearing those super high, white-starched shirt collars turned up w truly horrible crewcut Annie Lennox hair with that nasty appendage of the mullet hairdoo – worn by mostly the dykes of the day evoking the image of a flaccid penis with that erstwhile tail hanging like a bad case of repressed displaced penis envy down off the back. Yick!! Even then, I knew that shit was not going to enter into the realm of those timeless styles that would keep coming back again and again. This shit was going to go the way of the slow, fat AND totally exctinct Australian Do-Do Bird! Some things only enter into existence to be instantly nullified and forgotten like they never occurred at all. The dyke mullet of the 80s was one of them. And believe me, it was all over the Bay Area back then! Believe it or not, Ive even seen a couple of post millenium mullet throwbacks here and there – even very recently. Its like seeing a ghost – its very fleeting, yet deeply frightening and terribly disconcerting to actually see such a “paranormal”active rarity. Let’s just say that heres a huge difference between seeing the ghost of your beloved grandmother and seeing the scary ass, nasty grey visage of Jack The Ripper on crack, if you get my drift. Anyways, it was a bad doo. Nuff said.

        Yes, Id live to wrote pieces for columns or editorials or whatever. I can rant and rift on anything pretty much. But I do insult and offend people and say things that make the establishment mad and also gets people takcontracts out on me too. Seriously, its pretty scary being a crazy communicator to the public. I do need a job and writing would be perfect because I wouldn’t really have to see anyone or work with our for anyone. Just the topic and the deadline and Id be all primed to let the ink spill forth the million naked tales from the dusky jewel metropolis of labyrinthine dreams…

    2. To Geeta, dont read my posts than. Illq post wherever I like. Freedom of speech is your issue. BTW I don’t know the race of the Auto Run. Theyre criminal. If they were black, gay or Chinese I wd say that too to better describe the group. Actually, whites are the worst of all. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The white race has the most blood on its hands. Look at the British empire and her bloodthirsty progeny, the USA. I discrinate against all races. Theres distinctions I will make and your sensitivities, PC censorship be damned.

  5. At last, a fun place in the City and something that gives the city a different character from the suburbs, and they want to shut it down? Of course. Just turn the whole country into a version of Orange County or Palo Alto. People should be going to bed at 10PM and be ready to work in the morning?

  6. PS. Pardon the lack of editing on my part. My writings are usually really pristine and transform one into my world view of magic and chicanery. Atleast w regard to SF. My city. Not yours. Never will be and never was. You newcomers are transients. You have no feel for the place. Only the locals do have the heart of this place.

    1. This is, bar none, the most ludicrous nonsense I’ve ever read. I’m an enormous fan of all things vice but to whitewash the activity of this disgusting shitbox and its impact on the community is beyond the pale. And by the way, it ain’t “your city.”

      1. I am sorry Jay, but there had never been a place here in this city for pursed lipped, anal types like you who are obviously rigidly ensnared in a fantasy that with “das might for order” you will prevail over that which you look down your nose at with typical petty bourgouesie contempt. Contempt for anything that you cannot allow yourself the pleasure of indulging- like screwing hookers and guzzling booze for starters – btw this stuff is the meat and potato fare of every Joe Six pack American you see everywhere, everyday.

        I know it bothers your type of American – the pious, neo-puritanical, OCD, nosy neighbor who seeks complete rule bound order for everyone around him. In short, fascist dictator followers who, at the heart of their conflict unconsciously seek parental approval for being the goodie two shoe child who eternally envies the adorable other sibling who garnered the lion’s share of parental attention and approval who also flouted the rules and got away with it. Your greatest unconscious desire is to finally receive the praise you so sorely feel you deserve for following ALL of the rules (being “good”) while the “bad” (non rule abiding) sister or brother finally receives the punishment that you are virulently convinced that they so deserve. Thats the core unconscious, infantile wish-fullfillment fantasy for the OCD personality. And this fantasy is the raisson detre for this control freak, obsessives existence. You cannot hold the authority accountable to the fact that they were unfair to you, that your parents loved another sibling more than you. You are perpetually stuck in the fantasy that you will finally receive the parental approval and love you were desperate for as a child. You live for praise from the authority and to punish rule violators and control them. Typical jobs are bean counters and micro middle managers who serve up that daily shit sandwich from the owners and upper management to the exploited, overworked linestaff in any given industry. We all know the work drill, dont we?

        Your out of hand scoffery belies your arrogance and fundamental ignorance of affairs of other people and the world. You refuse to accede to the Realty Principle. Which is you control nothing and no one outside of yourself. Thats the nature of living in a big, bad, indifferent world w billions of other people who have their own fierce goals and agendas.

        Bottom line: It just really pisses you and your ilk off to no end, that so many of your fellow citizens do so easily revel like crazy pigs in hot mud.

        So, yes I am sharing this city with you. Ill at ease. Because I don’t like people like you. Over the years Ive come to know that newcomers who dont understand and try to impose and change this place just get shaken off like fleas on a big dog. The city is the big dog who shakes with tremors and earthquakes. The big earthquakes send those persons, not suited to out-of-control lethal gyrations of the earth beneath them, straight out of town and back to where they came from. The earthquakes for the natives and those with the heart for the place (those who came for what is here, not to impose yourselves upon the dusky jewel are definitely shaken, but wholly nonplussed by it. We just go on and keep living on. Its part of life here. You may be crushed to death tomorrow, but you died in your hearts home, in your sweet magic place. Its all okay. Because you died here. Its a good and decent end. And, “I” and those with me, in that spirit are quite okay w this denouement. It is a noble end and a good end -especially if you have lived an entire life here. This baby will be rockin’ like a “mutha funna” real soon! I can feel it coming…

        You know, I saw half the citys population clear out in 1987, when the Cypress crushed over 60 people to death and the Bay Bridge snapped in the middle. I mean, half the populace just up and left! That formidable quake terrified those thousands of out-of-towners. They did not even wait to sell their relatively newly purchased homes.

        It was awesome. No traffic. The freeways were empty. You could park your car right in front of your front door to your home every time, day and night. Then the people swarmed again. But big dog will shake ’em off again. It is inevitable.

        1. I know this is a bit of a rant and may appear off topic to this guy. Really, its just ann opportunity to excoriate and lambaste the whole lot of neighborhood watch, nasty, nosy intolerant control freaks who appeared perforce out of nowhere here and have had a bad effect on this once cool town. They are not from here. They will never be native San Franciscans. They are just transients here thoygh theyd so insist there here to stay. They stole the hood from the locals. Then claim “it takes the hood to save the hood” in their transparent and cynical campaign to displace locals from their home city and neighborhoods. Thats the truth. And I object totally. This Jay seems insincere and smug. He cant take a joke. Not from here. I can tell. Its a kind of lack of sensibility to the town and place. I revile corruption and real scum but I can laugh about it. And I know when the big easy is not going to turn into Mayberry RFD. I wdnt want it to. For our freedom, we pay a price. Just as dictatorial living destroys and squeezes out light, creativity art and all beauty. We must choose and stand by our choices. This is my line and where I draw it. At this type of petty minded provincialism not native to this dusky plum of a ripe town. We bite the fruit for want of its sweet, juicy lush flowing in, quenching the deepest thirst. Which is the thirst to live a life, not just to exist as subjects to prying eyes, excess of rules and compulsory demands to conformity to ones neighbors. Thats not living.

          1. Now I know why you don’t have a place to post your ramblings other than in the comment section. No one would want to pay for such headache-inducing “bit of a rant and may appear off topic….”. You missed mentioning the ethnicity of the people behind City Tow. Was it because they didn’t fit your narrative? Give us all a break and just get a website where you can post whatever you want and the people who love what you write can go there to get their fix of your writings. I agree that the city is corrupt. There are better ways to communicate your point effectively.

    2. Elizabeth careful editing not expected in comments section. Would love to read more of your work. Kinda like a detective novel. I have only been here 20 yrs, hanging on hard to my living space – but in that time I have noticed an insane degree of corruption. It seeps into every business transactions, where you have to always keep your eyes open and fight for your rights. Have come across routine and obvious medical fraud here, for example. Not the high bills but actual fraud. Guess it is the wild west. Thanks for making my day.

      1. I have been hyperbolic and rollicking in my commentary, giving to much of a hat nod to perfidy, graft and salacious excesses in this town. In reality, it really is horribly corrupt. Every new knowledge of some other arena of activity in this city that I attain is accompanied by finding out how dirty and money corrupt everything is. Like the amount of misappropriation and embezzlement of federal state and various massive funds for homelessness is just off-the-hook! Barely any money and resources get to the homeless and to the homeless problem. Its a racket. They need homeless people homeless to keep the funds coming that they steal and buy brand new corporate vehicle fleets for employees to drive on off time. The city needsGA “care not cas not to go to the rent its alleged to pay to, that leaves the homeless person a mere cash of 62.00$ to live on for the entire month. The rest of the 384.00$ or so “rent” goes into a massive interest generating account that the city scoops off of the top the interest for its profit. So, really the “care” or rent part of the money is a slush fund for the city. Nobodys getting any damn rent. The city needs the bodies, the numbers in the shelters to keep the funds rolling in, in the billions from the Feds. Homelessness is hardly effected because that money hits pretty presumably, Ed Lees pockets and those pockets of others, wat before some of the leftovers trickle into the shelters. It takes a homeless person atleast a year and a half to finally obtain housing. Hardly anyones getting off the streets. Homeless are here to stay until the crisis point because the city and social services steals from the homeless. No one cares about the homeless. So no ones minding the store. Thats how all of these people get away w this theft. The homeless have no voice and no ones watching while all of these pigs at the trough are robbing the homeless blind for the money and resources that would get people off of the street right away and for good. I mean, can you not see w your own eyes theres no less homeless, than ever? -Its because of the pillaging thats frozen this problem in place for the vultures. Its amazing how much people are getting away with given the homeless cannot initiate a serious investigation, though everyone more or less knows this is going on. Business as usual in San Francisco. Homelessness is a cash cow in this town. We want homelessness except when its unbecoming for the Roman spectator sports we are hosting; that the Superbowl, in January. Then, for the game, we bulldoze the homeless under the endzone for the duration. Sight so unbecoming like a dysfunctional family hiding its bad children out of sight while the neighbors stop by for a visit. The powers that be are deeply cynical. And criminal, I would add.

  7. This really highlights how useless the SFPD is. If you can’t close down something as obvious as this, why do we even employ you? Are we better off having the community deal with it themselves?

  8. Mr. Peck need to lawyer up and evict the subtenants–and if the legal details line up right, it shouldn’t take long. A master tenant can give dishonest/dangerous subtenants the heave-ho on a number of issues, not just nonpayment of rent. And I’d say he’s got stuck in a situation where hitting the offenders with a (3-day, noncurable) lease violation notice would give him the leverage to refuse any future attempts at rent payments and pursue an immediate termination of the sublease.

    Of course, as with anything legal, the devil is in the details…he needs to go over his lease and any sublease agreement(s), local/state codes re commercial evictions, and the cost of the toughest locks down at the hardware store, and other expenses (e.g., court fees). If the cost of a lawyer is out of the question, the Law Library and Nolo Press titles (also at the Main Library) are good ways to make sense of all the legalese.

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’m a long-time Mission resident who’s had to go to court to rid myself of the occasional deadbeat/lying/hazardous roommate. Only one was cuckoo-for-coco-puffs enough to stick around until just a few hours before the Sheriff’s men came calling; the others just skipped out, some quicker than others. I’d guess that a crew running some sort of den of iniquity probably would rather skip than go plead their case in court–though were that to happen, the local media would have a field day!

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