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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Restaurant Owners Hope Lifted Moratorium Will Create Dining Destination for 24th St.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 3:44 PM

click to enlarge Contigo's Brett Emerson (with fiancée Elan Drucker). - THE INADVERTENT GARDENER/FLICKR
  • The Inadvertent Gardener/Flickr
  • Contigo's Brett Emerson (with fiancée Elan Drucker).
How do existing restaurateurs feel about the possibility of increased competition on 24th Street? With yesterday's unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors, the 1987 moratorium on new restaurant locations in Noe Valley is essentially history (a final procedural vote is scheduled for next week). The moratorium meant that the number of eateries along 24th Street was capped. With that gone, the Planning Commission will weigh new applications as they come up, meaning there could be a bump-up in the number of restaurants on 24th.

"That's great news," said Brett Emerson, chef-owner of Contigo, which opened on Castro at 24th just about a year ago. "We'd love to see 24th Street more of a restaurant destination." Fresca chef Jose Calvo-Perez seconded that. "It makes 24th Street more of a destination area and boosts the economy," said Calvo-Perez, whose father Julio opened the Noe Valley Fresca six years ago. "I would welcome any more businesses who want to come in."

But Brad Levy, who opened Firefly on 24th at Douglass 17 years ago, cautioned against what he sees as the wrong kind of restaurants flooding the 'hood.

click to enlarge Firefly opened in Noe Valley 17 years ago. - TORO E./YELP
  • Toro E./Yelp
  • Firefly opened in Noe Valley 17 years ago.
"I'm not afraid of increased competition," Levy said, "I'm afraid of bad restaurants moving in," a possibility even with the moratorium in place. "We haven't gotten the kind of restaurants I think the neighborhood craves." Emerson, too, said he'd like to see what he stressed should be excellent eateries popping up.

Levy recognizes a need for what he described as good, reasonably priced ethnic restaurants setting up in Noe, or a place like Gialina, the Glen Park pizzeria. "It's not so precious, and it caters to families," he said.

But for all that, Levy admitted it's a crappy time for anyone to think about opening a new place anywhere in the city. "Anyone in their right mind would question opening a restaurant in San Francisco at this time," he said. "The hoops you have to run through in this city, and then to staff a place. And the margins have shrunk so much." Calvo-Perez suggested that some condo and apartment residents along 24th Street aren't exactly open to new ― or even existing ― nightlife in Noe. "There are people who are very unhappy here," he said. "They don't like noises. We're having a hard time staying open until 11 on the weekends."

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