Plans are afoot to turn nearly 4,000 square feet of retail space on the corner of Valencia and 21st streets into a full service restaurant with some retail.

The application for a conditional use permit allowing David Quinby, the owner of Amado’s at 998 Valencia St, to transform the space will be heard by the  San Francisco Planning Commission on May 4.

As part of the changes, the basement entertainment space will add a bar, according to planning documents.

Amado’s first tried a bespoke clothing store at the corner retail spot, but when that failed to take off, Quinby kept the basement entertainment venue active and invited a pop-up record store to use the ground floor space. “The clothing pop up has changed to a record store and the plays, concerts and podcasts haven’t stopped,” Quinby wrote in an e-mail after the change. 

Sean Quigley, president of the Valencia Corridor Merchant Association and owner of Paxton Gate at 766 Valencia St, said the association had been in talks with Quinby about the changes he wanted to make.

The merchants, he said, were sympathetic toward Quinby’s need for a restaurant to support the entertainment space, but they wanted some retail retained.

He foresaw no opposition from the merchants as long as 600 square feet of front retail is retained and that stipulation is part of the conditional use permit.

City planner Linda Ajello Hoagland said the plans envision a flow between the retail and cash register in the front of the corner store, a restaurant and a then a kitchen in the back.

The proposed restaurant would be open from Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and the basement entertainment venue would be open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.

For years, Valencia and Mission Street advocates have raised the question of whether there were too many restaurants on both streets and at one point a moratorium was considered.

That, however, was rejected and in May 2013, the Board of Supervisors instead added another step in the approval process for those owners who wanted to turn retail into restaurant space. It is that conditional use permit that Quinby is now asking the Planning Commission to approve.

Urban economists believe that supply and demand determines when there are too many restaurants, but others argue that too many changes the character of a street – and Valencia Street has long been known for its independent retail.  That, however, is changing as even upscale shops fight for survival against the competition of e-commerce.

In this environment, retail stores like Benny Gold on Valencia or Alite Outpost on 18th Street are increasingly feeding their customers. Amado’s is the first to offer them a full meal.

The interior of Amado’s at 21st and Valencia streets. Photo by Lydia Chávez