A changing, busier 14th Street in San Francisco

In the 15 years Mark DeVito has lived in San Francisco, he rarely came to 14th street, a part of the Mission known more for its auto-body and manufacturing shops than as a walkable commercial corridor.

That was until he and his coworkers found an old auto shop on Craigslist and opened Standard Deviant Brewery on the block between Mission and Minna.

After about a year, the brewery has developed relationships with neighboring businesses, DeVito says. Its beer is on tap at the nearby Armory Club. It has used herbs from the San Francisco Herb Company a block away (and has borrowed their forklift, DeVito said). Their bank is on 14th Street. They get lunch at the nearby restaurants.

“It’s an interesting little pocket of the Mission,” he says.

These days, neighbors say, the street is still quiet and community-oriented, but like the rest of the neighborhood, it has changed in just a few years. A few years back, the Audi showroom at the corner of 14th and South Van Ness was an open-air car lot. The space now occupied by the Armory Club was gated up. Doña Mago, a Mexican restaurant on South Van Ness, replaced the New Central Cafe in 2015.

The Audi dealership on South Van Ness Avenue. Photo by Laura Wenus

John Rabiolo of the San Francisco Herb Company, between Minna and Natoma streets, traces the changes all the way back to Rainbow Grocery on Folsom, and Best Buy between Harrison and Treat.

The San Francisco Herb Company has been on the street for 30 years. Outside the warehouse, the aroma of spices leaks out. Inside, the shelves are full of bagged spices and herbs. The company mostly sells to restaurants or ships products elsewhere, but it also works with local businesses — and is open to the public.

Inside the San Francisco Herb Co. Photo by Laura Wenus.

The spice shelf at SF Herb Co. Photo by Laura Wenus

Rabiolo remembered the days when police wanted to set up a camera on their building to help curb violence on Natoma street.

Those days are gone. Now, Rabiolo said, there is so much traffic on 14th street, it can be hard to unload merchandise.

He said someone even parks a Porsche across the street.

“A Porsche in our neighborhood does not belong here,” he said. Several decades ago, seeing the car on the street would have been unimaginable.

Mike Husary lives in San Bruno but has operated New Star Market, a deli and convenience store on 14th Street, for 30 years as well. He has also noticed the area changing, specifically in his customer base.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic,” he said. “It’s getting busier.”

Doña Mago’s restaurant on South Van Ness Avenue. Photo by Laura Wenus

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  1. Doña Mago’s restaurant used to be the location of the New Central Cafe, as recorded in “Blueu Jasmine,” the Woody Allen film shot on this location: http://www.woodyallenpages.com/2017/02/blue-jasmine-filming-locations-san-francisco-new-york-nyack/

  2. k8t

    ..maybe the hundreds of new condos built super close by have something to do with the increase in foot traffic? And before the Armory Club was the Armory Club it was a biker bar called Ace Cafe.

  3. You missed Mission Public, the best of the bunch, and actually owned by a Natoma St local.

  4. Area isn’t nearly as cool as it was 20 years ago; no Bearded Lady, no Oh So Little, no Ye Olde Bike Shoppe (though now Box Dog), no VG mural, no Wheat Grass Hut… This area was ravaged by the first tech bubble and lost a lot of it’s hominess and grittiness. Apparently, saw it when I rode by a couple weeks ago, it continues its downward spiral.

  5. Chris Sro

    It keeps getting better. This is good for business and the community. I’ve been watching it for years myself and feel much safer going down 14th. Thanks for reporting ML!

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