Old Bus Tavern, a Clever, Creative New Brewpub in Bernal, Opens Tonight

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Big news: The Old Bus Tavern (3193 Mission @Valencia), the new Southwestern-style brewpub that’s been in the works for months, opens for business tonight, Thursday July 23.

Your Bernalwood editor attended a glamorous preview dinner at Old Bus last night, but we’ll tell you more about that in a moment. First, let’s hear what the local fooderati are saying about this new addition to our neighborhood.

Writing for InsideScoop, here’s Sarah Fritsche:

The creation of partners and long-time friends, Jimmy Simpson, John Zirinsky and Bennett Buchanan, the unusually named brewpub Old Bus Tavern (named after Zirinsky’s 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia bus) is finally set to open its doors this Thursday (July 23).

Late last week, the trio were kind enough to give Inside Scoop a pre-opening peek at what to expect from the new Bernal Heights restaurant and brewery.

When you walk through the door, the first thing you notice is the gleaming, and open to the dining room, custom brewery made for the restaurant by Portland Kettleworks. Both Zirinsky and Buchanan, who began as avid home brewers eight years ago, will oversee the beer program. […]

Aside from the brew kettles, the other main focal point in the 49-seat dining room, which is designed by Sarah Greenwood Design (Greenwood also happens to be Zirinsky’s mother), is a collection of antique Navajo rugs that decorate the walls.

The rugs belong to Zirinsky’s uncle, who has been collecting Native American art and artifacts since the 1970s. “He’s had these rugs in storage for 25 years, so my mom had the idea, why don’t we ask Tom if we can take the rugs out of storage and put them up on the walls? It’s great to have a personal family connection, but also it just looks cool together,” says Zirinsky.

The Southwestern motif also carries over to the cocktails and food.

That’s a key thing to understand about Old Bus: They have a serious Southwestern thing going on, with an emphasis on the “serious.” But more about that in a moment, really, because headline of Thrillist’s story says the Old Bus “could be the best SF opening of the year”:

Located in Bernal Heights, this casual brewpub serves game changing drinks and eats in a cool, friendly atmosphere. Chef Max Snyder worked in four Michelin-starred restaurants before coming to Old Bus and offers way-elevated pub fare like pickled quail eggs served on a bed of fried onions. The beers are awesome, from the Old Bus Tavern Lemon Basil Saison to their OBT Chili Porter, which is brewed with Valrhona cocoa nibs and 60lbs of roasted Poblano chiles. Cocktails aren’t to be missed either…really, you should just order everything on the menu.

Zagat is excited too. So is SFist. So is Tablehopper.

Okay, yeah, so a whole lot of people who don’t live in Bernal Heights say they are excited about this new place in Bernal Heights. But as a card-carrying Citizen of Bernalwood, with Old Bus Tavern at your doorstep, should you be excited about the place too?

Oh hell yes.

The team that created the Old Bus has worked incredibly hard to make it happen, and the results of their effort are impressive. During last night’s glamorous preview dinner, your Bernalwood editor remarked that the interior of the space is warm and interesting. It’s modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe. In fact, that basically describes every aspect of The Old Bus Tavern: modern and refined, with an unmistakable southwestern vibe.

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I did a robust exploration of a few signature cocktails, and they were terrific.

One clever standout was the OBT (with tequila, orange curaçao, lime, and a homemade poblano pepper syrup). It’s like a craft margarita with a spicy kick that lends itself to slow-paced sipping. Loved it.

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The beer program is just getting up to speed, with an Old Bus Lemon Basil Saison on tap now. A homebrew Opening Day IPA and Chili Porter are expected to be ready later in the week. And all of it is made right onsite, in the kettles near the center of the dining room:

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Otherwise, you can also get any of this:

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The food was much more ambitious than I’d expected — divey cuisine, this is not. The pickled quail eggs with fried onions was sublime. The chilled eggplant soup tasted like something that came from Santa Fe by way of Cairo. The onion spaetzel was creative and fresh. The chili with pequin chiles was tender, rich, and intense:

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Wow.

Here’s the full menu. NOTE: Before snarking about the prices, please read the fine print: “Service and tax are included in all of our menu prices; no tipping is necessary. Our revenue sharing system allows us to pay our entire staff a living wage.”

Oh, and did I mention that it opens to the public tonight? As with any new restaurant, expect a few bumps at first, but Bernalwood recommends trying out the Old Bus Tavern sooner rather than later, because this place probably won’t be a local secret for very long.

Big congrats to the Old Bus Team, and welcome to the neighborhood.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Dissident Parrots Find Sanctuary in Bernal Community Garden

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Neighbor Craig reports that a flock of wild parrots has been spotted in eastern Bernal’s Dogpatch-Miller Community Garden.

That makes sense, because it’s an election year, and Aaron Peskin is on the ballot.

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As you must certainly recall, in 2012 ornithologists from the Bernalwood Political Research Unit determined that the wild parrots in Bernal Heights “are refugees from Telegraph Hill who fled to Bernal Heights to escape the stultifying NIMBYism and shrill politics of that part of the City in general — and Aaron Peskin in particular.”

At the moment, Aaron Peskin is campaigning to once again represent District 3 on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. So the move by these free-spirited parrots to seek sanctuary several miles from Telegraph Hill should come as no surprise.

Please welcome the dissident parrots with the warmth and neighborly generosity for which Bernal Heights is world-famous.

PHOTOS: Craig Saitowitz

Foodie-Hating Vandal Damages Small Businesses on Cortland

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Daybreak this morning reveals that a vandal damaged the Epicurean Trader on Cortand overnight by spray-painting political slogans on the store’s facade.

The graffiti says: “Banal Heights” and “Traitor for the 1%.”

A hot-take analysis by the Bernalwood Office of Propaganda Research concluded that the vandal apparently suffers from a narcissistic righteousness disorder, exacerbated by feelings of contempt. Further semiotic inquiry also reveals conspicuously tidy handwriting, rote sloganeering, and an unfortunate weakness for bad puns.

Bernalwood will provide further updates as they become available.

UPDATE: Bernalwood has confirmed that Pinhole Coffee was tagged as well.

PHOTOS: @rallyp

Remembering Karen Huggins, Holly Courts Advocate

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Neighbor Sarah Rogers tells Bernalwood about the passing of Neighbor Karen Huggins:

Neighbor Karen Huggins died of cancer in mid-June.

Karen was an activist who lived in Bernal’s Holly Courts public-housing development, and she was committed to social justice on behalf of both public-housing residents and the larger community. She frequently worked with the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, Supervisor David Campos and his staff, and many Bernal neighbors and groups. She served on the Ingleside Police Station’s community police advisory board and helped author the city’s 2011 ordinance on community policing. She was president of the Holly Courts Resident Council and a tireless advocate for residents of public housing.

Karen “fought fiercely for economic and racial justice, with a twinkle in her eye and great love and humor,” says neighbor Buck Bagot.

Karen “was one of the most incredible people I’ve met,” adds Supervisor Campos. “She was brilliant, driven, and passionate. She was also a character, with a great sense of style and class. She was the kind of person who made an entrance, someone you were bound to remember. She was one of a kind, a quintessential Bernal personality.”

“Karen had a vision,” recalls Bobby Cochran, a Holly Courts resident and sergeant-at-arms of the Holly Courts Residents Council. He first met Karen when he was sweeping up broken glass at Holly Courts, and she asked if he needed a push broom. “Everything you needed, she had,” he said. After he retired from his job, she persuaded him to join the Residents Council, even though he was reluctant at first, having never participated in local politics. “You’ll learn,” she told him, advice she gave many others at Holly Courts.

Soon, he found himself traversing San Francisco to attend and speak at hearings and “meeting people I never thought I’d meet.” Karen had a vision for making Holly Courts a place that was truly a part of the surrounding neighborhood, in its appearance and in its level of safety and civility. She worked tirelessly to get safety-related issues like broken lights and security gates repaired, and she helped get the units repainted. Karen had memorized all housing-related bylaws and knew how to navigate government departments and work with city officials and staff. “I learned a lot from her,” Cochran said. “I wish she was still here to teach me more.”

Karen was “a force to be reckoned with,” said Ailed Paningbatan-Swan, director of community engagement at the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center. But Karen also had “a nurturing and loving side that radiated from her, rejuvenating those around her. She shared with me her struggles with her sickness while also taking care of me while I was pregnant. She called me every week to check in and made sure I was doing okay with my pregnancy, and she couldn’t wait to meet my baby. I’m truly sad that she wasn’t able to meet my son.”

Nicole Hatfield, youth coordinator (and former youth participant) at the BHNC, attributed her career choice to Karen’s influence and said, “I will never forget her spirit and tenacity to continue working in public housing and striving for her communities to flourish.”

Karen did not want people to know how sick she was, so her death came as a shock to many who knew her. As her cancer progressed, she held an emotional meeting with the Residents Council, Cochran says, explaining that she wanted them to step up, to watch each others’ backs, to trust each other, and to always remember that “you’re not in it for personal gain. You’re in it for Holly Courts, the residents, and the greater community.”

“It’s hard to imagine the world without Karen,” Supervisor Campos said in a Facebook post after her death. “San Francisco certainly will not be the same without her. I feel lucky and blessed that I got to know Karen. And I know that the best thing we can do to honor her is to rededicate ourselves to social justice and to her passion — making sure that we do right by the residents of Holly Courts and all of public housing in San Francisco.”

PHOTO: Karen Huggins

Tuesday: Drink Wine, Eat Cheese, Plant a Tree In Front of Your Glamorous Bernal Heights Home

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Psst. Hey! Want to get a tree in front of your house? Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) has scheduled one of their periodic Bernal Heights tree plantings for September, but the time to sign up to get a tree is now. FUF coordinator Kyle Lemle tells Bernalwood:

We at Friends of the Urban Forest are organizing a tree planting in the Bernal Heights on September 26th.

The deadline to apply for this planting is August 12th. The plantings are a fantastic way to build community, neighbors come and help each other plant their trees, and then join together for a community potluck at the end.

We are hosting a happy hour at Bernal resident John Monson’s house at 185 Lundys Lane, on Tuesday, July 21st. We will serve wine and cheese, answer any tree-related questions, and discuss ideas on how to plant more trees in Bernal Heights.

I will answer tree related questions and make sure we are set for a big neighborhood planting in Bernal Heights! We will have some wine and cheese and brainstorm outreach ideas to get even more trees planted in the neighborhood.

Can you make it?

Tree Planting “Happy Hour” for Bernal Heights
Where: The home of Neighbor John, 185 Lundys Lane (@Virginia), SF
Date: Tuesday, July 21st
Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm

PHOTO: Courtesy of Friends of the Urban Forest

SFPD Captain McFadden Responds to Burglary at Bernal Heights Home

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Alert! Alert! Alert! There’s been a recent uptick in daytime home burglaries. Captain McFadden from SFPD’s Ingleside Station has a few words to say about this, but first, Neighbor Marcos shares his sad story:

I wanted to let the good folks of Bernal aware of a recent burglary. I live in a downstairs flat on Florida between Precita and Peralta. On the morning of July 4th thieves entered my building by prying open a street-facing window and busting the window lock. They quickly went through the front two rooms taking laptops, a television and other electronics. They quickly rifled through a few drawers of my media center before leaving out the front door. Apparently, they did not go into the back portion of the home. What is particularly concerning is that this occurred between 10:00 am and 11:15 am, while my partner and I were out to coffee. This leads me to believe that we were being watched and the thieves waited until both we and my upstairs neighbor left. That is creepy as hell.

I have to give my hat off to the SFPD. I completely expected them to not show or simply arrive, leave a report and immediately take off. They did not. Officer Campos arrived within an hour and a half (not bad for July 4th or any other time in SF, really) He was professional and patient. He took his time to thoroughly investigate the scene and then blew my socks off when he said, “I’ll get the CSI unit over here. Maybe we can get a good print.” CSI unit? For a home invasion that must happen all the time every day? Okay. A few hours later two CSI officers arrived and were just as thorough. They ended up finding a few prints. Since then, SFPD has followed up with me regarding what they are doing and how things will move forward. I have no expectations of my belongings ever being recovered but it’s nice to see that the police force is taking this crime seriously and seemingly applying resources to it.

By the way, Officer Campos did say that there has been increased crime activity in the neighborhood over the past six months. Let’s all please keep an eye out for each other. We have a fantastic neighborhood.

In response to Neighbor Marcos, Captain McFadden had this to say:

First of all, I am extremely sorry to hear that you were the victim of a burglary. We have had a severe increase across the city in them for several reasons. I appreciate the kind words that you’ve said about Officer Campos. He is definitely one of my top officers here at Ingleside Station and has been for several years.

As an FYI, Most burglaries are perpetrated by suspects around the times of 10 AM- 2 PM and are the result of a “casing” of the residence by the suspects. This is why it is extremely important that Bernal residents call the non-emergency number 415-553-0123 whenever they see something or someone who seems to be suspicious.

Make sure to describe the person and activity they are doing very specifically. The responding officers may just stop a crime before it happens by letting the suspects know that they are being watched by your attentive neighbors. If there is anything we can ever help you with please feel free to contact me at Ingleside Station…415-404-4000.

PHOTO: RickM2007

 

Bernal Neighbor Creates Eco-Friendly Bags For Doggie Business

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Neighbor Ron created a new product for dog owners, and he wants to offer you a neighborly discount:

I’ve been a Bernal resident for almost 3 years now (moved from North Beach), and I absolutely love the neighborhood. Being a dog enthusiast my whole life, I was thrilled to be moving into Bernal Heights where dogs and people seem to live in perfect harmony. A couple years ago, toxic plastic bags were being discontinued in favor of BYOB and paper bags, which cut into the supply of bags to pick up after your pets.

The pet stores around the Bay Area still sold plastic bags for dog owners, and I decided to search for a different solution. After conducting some research, I decided the problem could be solved with en eco-friendly dog waste bag, made entirely out of natural materials.

Bark Bags are made from corn starch, and they’re non toxic and designed in San Francisco. We are on a mission to help dog owners Reduce their Carbon Paw Print by picking up after their pooches with eco friendly bags.

Click here for 5% off and Free Shipping: Use the code Bernal

PHOTO: Neighbor Ron