Co-Owners from left to right: Katey McKee & Sharon Ratton. Art featured is on loan from CandyBar located in the Tenderloin which had to close due to COVID, and Candybar. The artist: Camila Valdez@camilavaldezart Photo courtesy of McKee and Ratton.

Got Milk?

Last week, I reported that I’d be among the first to tell you about Milk SF, a mysterious cafe that popped up on Valencia Street near 14th. And I hate to say, ‘I told you so,’ but … wait, no I don’t. Told you so!

Lo and behold, I’ve discovered Milk SF is officially a queer-friendly, nitro-latte cafe. And, what’s more appealing to the old softie in me is that it’s a true labor of love. Co-owners Katey “Scoots” McKee and Sharon Ratton met in 2019, fell in love, dreamt up this very cafe, and are now engaged. The entire engagement, actually, was focused on Milk SF. 

“Retelling our story, I’m getting a little touched,” Ratton said in her southern twang. 

Wait, I asked them: you date, plan this cafe, and then you just so happen to land it a location right next door to McKee’s other business venture, the queer-friendly salon Glama-Rama!? 

Okay, okay, McKee replied. She milked the friendly relationship with her gracious landlord. Besides, plenty of commercial space is up for grabs around them. “He really wants to see this block look more exciting and more flavorful. So he just said, ‘write a proposal, tell me your terms, and I’ll sign the lease.’ Pretty magical,” McKee recalled. “We joke how the husbands can come wait in the cafe while the wives get their hair done.”

In its previous life, the space was residentially zoned. Thanks to Proposition H, which aimed to kick down some barriers for San Francisco small business owners, McKee and Ratton are in the process of changing it. The inside, however, was a different story.

“The whole kitchen didn’t exist. We had to build a wall, move a door, all the painting,” McKee said. “Rip out a shower,” Ratton added. A few friends helped put up a staircase. A picture reveals that the steps are painted every color of the rainbow. 

Both swear by offerings that include a bourbon burnt caramel banana iced latte, a Sichuan peppercorn rose iced latte and a jasmine iced latte. There will be food, but no booze — sorry if you expected a white Russian. In fact, operating a handful of LGBTQ-friendly businesses that don’t offer alcohol is a deliberate source of pride. “The queer community have been relegated to the nightlife before this … it was always where we were safe. That’s changing,” Ratton said. 

Now, the bright blue Milk SF sits pretty next to the loud pink Glama-Rama! — a down-low nod to gender fluidity, and a secret symbol of their love. 

Soft opening is on June 26 for Pride, which will host a Pink Saturday event. McKee and Ratton are utterly excited. The doors officially open in July. Whatcha waiting for? Scoot on over. 

Time to Clean Haus

The kids are all right. However, their after-school program is not. Contrary to the outdated website message, Third Haus, the child-learning community and after-school program on 455 Valencia St., is not on pause, but officially kaput. Like several other businesses, Third Haus’s model couldn’t survive the blows the pandemic dealt, a source close to the company told me. The community, which launched in 2018, relied on interactive spaces where kids could create and “ideate” under a mentor. I think few would venture sheltering-in-place exactly conducive to that environment. So just like everyone else, they pivoted to Zoom meetings. These fell flat. After all, a goofy screen background can only fix so much. 

The kiddos and employees have moved on, and now the space is looking for a new tenant. But not just anyone — someone really committed to the “community.” So, make what you will of that. 

Some new digs

When a pack of the state’s top dogs come down to San Francisco for a photo opp, it’s either for campaign season or a big deal. Lucky for me, it’s the latter. Indian Basin Shoreline Park, one of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks’ biggest projects in a generation, broke ground yesterday, and even the governor had something to chime in about it. 

Why not? There’ll be illuminated bike paths, natural habits, and gardens, oh my! I’m most excited to lounge on the docks and get more bad tan lines. 

About 1.7 miles is slated for the waterfront, and this swath begins to narrow inequity park gaps for Bayview Hunters’ Point residents. It’ll come out to $140 million, which a mix of state, local and private funding will address. 

This park, too, is one tiny piece of the project overall. About a mile away, some 2,500 public and affordable housing units are planned.

But there’s a lot of work to be done, considering the literally toxic past of Hunter’s Point. A Bayview native group, Rubecon Builders, will head the land’s remediation process. 

While it’s a long way off, you can certainly enjoy the high-quality pictures of shovels in dirt today. 

Housekeeping: What you missed and what I’m reading

From us, to you, with love

It’s been quick work. An unsafe building on San Bruno Ave. was okayed by a longtime DBI inspector Bennie Curran, despite almost no recorded inspections taking place, as revealed by Joe Eskenazi. On Monday, we learned that Curran, who also made news for failing to initially document a $180,000 “loan” from a developer, had resigned. 

Clearing the way for more housing? Rafael Mandelman is all for it … except when it means uprooting pre-existing amenities for long-term residents without “just cause.” And, according to housing rights activists, this phenomenon is spreading citywide. Mandelman’s new ordinance may put an end to it. 

Who said affordable housing can’t be pretty, too? A fully affordable, 127-unit building on Folsom and 16th got a mural makeover. Does that beautiful face look familiar? Probably because it’s the revered Mexican American artist Yolanda López. 

What I’m reading

Move over, Bob the Builder. These Oakland artists made eight “tiny homes” for their unhoused neighbors, citing the homelessness crisis, which will probably worsen as evictions loom. It warmed my heart, but also made me wonder if this could be replicated elsewhere. Read more at ABC7

Okay, I’m officially Lauren Hepler’s fangirl. In the Chron, she writes the moving and human-centered “New legal challenge revives ‘huge war’ over Hunters Point’s toxic legacy.” A move for 12,000 housing units slated for the shipyard and Candlestick Park faces litigation aimed to block further construction, which started in the pandemic. Residents allege they never got notice about it and want more clean up done. The piece quietly conjures questions surrounding all planning processes: when we slap down housing units, where are we putting them, and who are we asking to move into them? When we do, what health risks are we possibly asking them to swallow in the meantime? 

If you got this far, send tips. I’d love to know what’s going on in development and what’s important to you.

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Annika Hom

Annika Hom is our inequality reporter through our partnership with Report for America. Annika was born and raised in the Bay Area. She previously interned at SF Weekly and the Boston Globe where she focused...

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4 Comments

  1. Gotta share this with the readers. I am skeptical about that the big money renovation at Indian Basin Park because it reminds me of what RPD tried to do with Mission Park, also know as Dropbox park. The playbook is to say they’re spending a lot of money for the community, saying sorry we neglected you in the past, we’re going to make it nice for you. But when its done, they show that the importance goes to then newees.

    The RPD salesmen claimed that after we spent the money to upgrade the building – the people would love it, they’ll be music rooms, and programs for the neighborhood kids.

    But after spending expensive to new the place, they tried to exclude the community. The building was locked. The field was rented just to techies, If the field wasn’t rented to techies, they turned the lights out. Neighbors weren’t important , No one was ever allowed to use the music room. Programming was v limited, but built to serve two children from a BOS aid’s family.

    Lets see in 5 to 10 years who are going to be the preferred users of Indian Basin Park.

    1. There is no such thing as ‘preferred users’. Complaining that ‘it took while, but now this public space is getting attention and money thrown at it’ is absurd. The only way to ensure public spaces are used and appreciated by the community relative to its location is to activate it through programming, gather and spend time there.

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