Another artistic and whimsical piece of San Francisco sold last month — for top dollar — when showman “Chicken” John Rinaldi parted with his esoteric Cesar Chavez Street warehouse for $1.8 million.

Per public documents available at the city’s Assessor-Recorder’s office, the listed owner is now one Andrew Greenstein. Documents reveal that Greenstein received a loan to buy the property from Erick Hachenburg, the CEO of the tech company MetaCafe. That’s the former place of business for current SF AppWorks CEO Andrew Greenstein. The sale closed on Oct. 22.  

Contacted through multiple channels, Greenstein of SF AppWorks did not respond to messages seeking comment.

It’s unclear what will happen to the unique and exquisitely decorated warehouse, but sources with familiarity with the building noted that there are far, far more lucrative uses for it than the artistic site and event space Rinaldi was, until recently, hosting.  

The self-described showman and former fringe mayoral candidate was, in 2015, dinged by building inspectors for allowing up to 30 people to sleep in two bedrooms in the building, according to city records. He obtained permitting for the entertainment venue and corresponding single hotel room last year.

Rinaldi is a musician, entertainer, and local cult icon who ran against Gavin Newsom for mayor in 2007. He obtained the warehouse in 2004 for $370,000. He has utilized the space as an entertainment venue and as the headquarters for the San Francisco Institute of Possibility.

Rinaldi declined to speak to Mission Local for this article.

The sale of this warehouse was long in coming. He has been attempting to hawk his digs since 2009. And, like most every city property owner, he did well to wait — the sales price in ’09 was $899,000.

Back then, Rinaldi seemed in dire straits: “I’m caught in the mortgage crisis by association,” he told the culture blog Laughing Squid. “I took a five-year arm mortgage with a balloon payment thinking I could refinance. There are no loans today for showmen with non-conforming warehouses. So it goes on the block. Hell, I’ll even finance it … ”

How times change. The 2018 sales price is nearly quintuple what Rinaldi paid in 2004. In other words: Good show.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. Learn how to accurately and precisely formulate a sentence

    >Documents reveal that Greenstein received a loan to buy this property from Erick Hachenburg

    Does that mean that Greenstein purchased the property or received a loan from Hachenburg?

    Just because you lay out the history of Rinaldi owning the property does not preclude any number of circumstances in which Hachenburg owned it recently and sold it to Greenstein (such as a business relationship between Rinaldi and Hachenburg or underwriting the debt or whatever)

    1. This is a nonsense scenario. The ownership — and a plethora of deeds and other documents — is all recorded, in black and white, at the Assessor-Recorder’s office. This is what the term “recorder” implies.

      Thanks for the grammar lesson.


      1. Our dear editorial bully JE, shit beetle wasn’t disputing that the truth is out there somewhere, clearly recorded in the details of deeds in rather difficult to access files of the assessor cum recorder, but that your former reporter failed to report clearly for your reading public on who sold what to whom and when. The ambiguity of plausible alternative readings isn’t so petty an observation as you suggest.

  2. Bought for $370K a mere 14 years ago and just sold for $1.8 Million?!

    That’s nearly 400% in speculative profit!

    Plus, according to this article, it was being used as a Ghost-Ship- type illegal/slum tenement — with 30 people in 2 bedrooms!!!!

    That “Chicken” John Rinaldi is so greedy! Why isn’t he in jail!

    Why aren’t MEDA, United to Save the MIssion, Calle 24 and PODER protesting this travesty of a transaction?! (And demanding a cut!)

  3. Where is the condemnation of Rinaldi for contributing to the evils of gentrification? Why do people only get mad at the buyers of properties, and not the sellers, when something like this happens? It’s so hypocritical. Either it’s okay to buy and sell real estate at the market price, or it’s not. We can’t condemn some transactions as contributing to the evils of gentrification while giving others a “good show.”

  4. A few years back, I attended a great event about gentrification and local businesses on Valencia Street.

    I saw Chicken in the room and later emailed me. “They should have bought their own building like I did,” he told me, unsympathetically.

    Check this Chicken missive out:

    Here is an example letter:

    President Rich Hillis

    San Francisco Planning Commission

    Dear Pres. Hillis:

    I am a (neighborhood resident near Chez Poulet) ( working artist in San Francisco)( mission district business owner)( international man of mystery)(San Francisco educator)(nonprofit XYZ) (Mission District sex worker)( concerned San Franciscan)(New York art critic)( world renowned restauranteur).

    I wish to express the strongest possible support for Mr. Rinaldi in his efforts to legalize his multiuse arts facility in the mission district.

    This location has meant much to me and my (family)(BDSM Club) (community) (affinity group) ( youth organization) (theme camp) (isis cell) We did this this and this important and wonderful thing that would not have been possible were it not for Chez Poulet.

    (Briefly describe the event and why it was so cool to have it happen in the mission instead of in Oakland)

    This resource must be saved.

    Please do everything you can to support and encourage the fine work going on at this location – does anybody know of any grants available to help do seismic upgrades?

    Thank you very much,

    John Q Public

    address and ZIP Code

    17 years of trying to get this bullshit done. I’m going to have a drink tomorrow night, either way. The end of an earache!!!!!! I’ll post on this list to tell you guys what happened. It’s a complicated puzzle, that’s for sure.


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