Abanico Coffee Roasters opens in the Mission
It’s hardly surprising that with all the business-permitting hoops to jump through, plus a global pandemic, Ana Valle took two years to open Abanico Coffee Roasters at 2121 Mission St. The soft opening happened two weeks ago. “I didn’t make a big deal, because what if things shut down again?”
But, as you’d expect, the whisperings of a Salvadoran-owned coffee shop in a proud Latinx neighborhood have been positive. Just a few days ago, an elderly Salvadoran woman stopped in, saying she saw a Telemundo broadcast of Abanico right after her nightly telenovela. As the manager bore witness, the woman clasped hands with Valle and blessed the establishment in Spanish. “She said she lived here for 30 years, and how happy she was that I was here,” Valle said.
Ironically, the idea for a coffee shop also involved an old Salvadoran woman, Valle’s grandmother. “I had so many brothers, but my grandmother fed me the coffee. It was our thing.” Even after fleeing the country with her family during the Civil War, Valle recalled her grandmother’s cafecito as a way of saying, “I love you.”
Once her family moved to the States, they settled in Daly City. It was the Mission, though, where they frequently dined and shopped. “We’d just hop on the freeway and go. It was the neighborhood that had welcomed us at the time,” she recalled. Ever since, Valle knew if she opened a business, it had to be in the Mission.
Since 2019, Valle had her eyes on the former furniture space across from Clarion Alley, but then, she experienced the planning process. Amendments were required. Zoning changes needed. And once things were squared up, the pandemic hit. Luckily, the property owner didn’t have Valle on the hook for rent until she officially moved in around Feb. 2021.
Once prepped to open, Valle said nailing the drink recipes has been important forsomeone who grew with the coffee plantations “in my backyard.” Valle learned roasting, coffee-making, and tasting. Each signature drink gives a nod to classic Latin recipes and Valle’s added twist. Ice in the Mexican cafe de olla is one. (I ordered one; it lives up to the hype.)
Valle feels that the Latinx community deserves the finest ingredients (she proudly arranged the morro seeds and piloncillo sugar by the register) and the best quality — and not from a commercially-owned coffee giant, but from someone who truly cares about the love and culture in each cup. Thinking about her self-anointed mission, Valle dabs her eyes. “I get teary-eyed just thinking about it,” she said.
La Muerte de la Misión
And ,while Valle transitions to a new life, a few streets down there’s rumblings of death, both literally and figuratively.
The saga of 2588 Mission St., known by activists as “La Muerte de la Misión” (or the Death of the Mission) continues. If that rings a bell, it’s because, in 2015, the former building gained notoriety for literally going down in flames. The brutal blaze killed one person, and displaced some 60 residents and scores of businesses, Mission Local among them.
In the past week, a petition opposing the proposed building was circulated by Our Mission No Eviction, a group that opposes evictions and was co-founded by the neighborhood’s “unofficial mayor,” Roberto Hernandez. The petition, supported by tens of other neighborhood groups, rehashed the damage and named Mauricio Orellana, who died in the fire.
Community members want Hawk Ling Lou, the property owner, to give the site up to an affordable housing developer and to build 100 percent affordable housing. That way, mostly low-income immigrant tenants that were displaced could return to the neighborhood, they argued. (Lou hasn’t returned an email by press time. An architect on the project declined to speak, citing policy to not discuss projects without clients’ permission.)
So when a permit was filed for a nine-story building that advertised 148 units, of which only 28 of which would be affordable, that sparked anger in the community. That was referenced again in the recent petition, which said, “‘this development has been named “La Muerte” because it will continue the death of the Mission.”
“What does that mean?” Hernandez said about the project plans. “It means [Lou’s] not going to put these tenants back in there, he’s not going to build the mercado back. So what happens to the businesses that were there?”
He said, “Again, this is gentrification.”
So far, a potential barbershop makes the cut
It’s time for a new look.
At present, 4374 Mission St. in the Outer Mission/Excelsior is home to a 600-square-foot tenant space, according to public records. And, according to the internet and a real-estate developer, that address used to be the home of JC Tattoos SF, a tattoo studio advertising seven-day-a-week service and talented artists who are exclusively named Mike. (You could have your pick at “Mike b” or Mike Pickle.)
But it turns out they haven’t been there for months, and the Planning Commission decided at its May 27 meeting to unanimously approve a zoning makeover for the space. This means it will switch from conditional use to “personal services use,” a necessary step to get a barber shop up and running.
Ray Scarabasio, who represents the real-estate development company overseeing the project, told me it’s a family-owned and minority business. Though thrilled for the project, Scarabasio felt compelled to warn them that starting a business in the city and applying for all the right permits is no easy task. Still, the family agreed to “do it the legitimate way, which I find commendable,” he chuckled. “I said, ‘We’ll wait for you.’”
Seniority — affordable housing on Valencia
A recent tweet from District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman had me thinking of a few age-old adages: the best things in life are free, and good things come to those who wait. The supe announced that affordable housing units at Alcantara Court apartments, at 670-672 Valencia St., have opened a waitlist to San Francisco seniors over 62. Okay, okay, these apartments aren’t free, but these do cater to the elderly, who don’t make much. For example, to qualify one individual must earn less than $5,400 a month; a couple must make less than $6,100 a month.
Don’t get me wrong; getting off a waitlist for affordable housing in this city won’t be easy; at Alcantara alone, there are 300 waitlist slots and about 49 units up for grabs via a lottery. And that’s just the waitlist. There aren’t units available right now. But this makes me think of another wise saying, parlayed by television character Michael Scott and pro-hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”
Because of Covid-19, only online applications are being accepted. Apply here or call a housing counselor at 415-928-5910 to help you file one. Applications are due on June 15 at 5 p.m.
Housekeeping: what you missed, and what I’m reading
It’s worth noting that Supervisor Dean Preston introduced legislation to extend San Francisco’s local eviction moratorium, which means if you can pay 25 percent of rent, you can stave off nonpayment eviction. As Mission residents told me, eviction and homelessness are huge concerns, but 25 percent rent may be easier said than done. Fortunately, $90 million was announced for San Franciscans seeking up to six months of rent relief and are taking applications now, though tenants’ organizers say attaining it is a different story. In the meantime, other groups say thousands of low-income San Franciscans missed opportunities to unlock money via tax-credits. See if you qualify.
What I’m reading: “Just Four SF Households Have Received Rent Relief Funds”
In Noah Arroyo’s piece for SF Public Press, he parsed numbers and didn’t mince words: yup, only four San Francisco households received state rent relief as of May 26 (or, two days ago). How many applied? About 2,650 households, he said, the vast majority low-income. While it’s a straightforward piece, the data speaks for itself. Now, what are the city and state going to do about it?
Manuela Tobias of CalMatters lays out the complicated and nuanced approaches to achieving housing “equity” among Black, brown, and low-income communities in California. Not only does she deliver much-needed context, which happens to highlight a Black resident in East Oakland, but she has organizers, realtors and government officials propose their solutions. Did you know an Oakland organization buys the land of a property and then leases it out to make it easier on clients to eventually buy that house? Because before this, I sure didn’t.