Fancy Boot Workshop and Store Opens in La Lengua

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There’s a new shoemaker in the La Lengua Autonomous Zone: Beneduci Shoemakers just opened up an honest-to-goodness boot factory and store on the corner of San Jose and 30th Street.

To be sure, Beneduci’s is far more Milan than Brothers Grimm. The designs are gorgeous, owner  Frank Beneduci’s workmanship is world-class, and the prices… well, the prices are probably a bit steep for forest elves. In 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote:

The grandson of an Italian-born craftsman, Beneduci, 48, went to Milan to study with master cobblers to satisfy his desire to “create something tangible.”

“My aesthetic is informed by two things,” said Beneduci, “U.S.-made boot machinery and Italian pattern-making and manufacturing techniques. Both are completely different disciplines, but I have managed to merge them into something that works.”

Beneduci shoes have a foot in both lands. The hardy boots may have American workwear leanings but are far more refined, in both design and materials, than anything you’d wear to clean a flooded basement.

Former Neighbor Renee, who just moved to Pacifica after 10 years on Nevada Street, tells us she loves her Beneducis:

I do own a pair of Beneduci boots that Frank made for me before the store opened. I love them. I’ve never owned a pair of handcrafted shoes or boots; these feel amazing. It’s not hyperbole when I say I can walk miles in them all over the city. Frank is so passionate about bringing meticulous craftsmanship to San Francisco, and he delivers it in such a down-to-earth way. The store is beautiful and welcoming—you really can go in and see all the equipment and the shoes being made. It’s a great addition to Bernal.

I’m attaching a photo of me in my boots at the end of the day.

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Beneduci Shoemakers is open Tuesday -Wednesday by appointment, Thursday – Saturday 11-7pm Closed Sunday and Monday. Here’s a video introduction:

PHOTO: Top, Beneduci Shoes via Facebook. Interior photo by Ted Weinstein. Boots by Renee.

Saturday: Heartfelt’s Pop-Up Opening Party at 301 Cortland

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Meanwhile, in other Heartfelt news…

Sad tales of plundered ravens aside, Neighbor Darcy Lee is spreading the word about Heartfelt’s seasonal pop-up store that’s opening up a few blocks north, on the fashionable corner of Cortland and Bocana.

Neighbor Darcy shares the scoop (and extends an opening party invite):

Heartfelt’s Pop Up store in the former Deli Pub space at 301 Cortland is opening up this Saturday, November 8th from 1 to 4 pm.  Bubbly will be served!   This is a chance to express my display mojo without the crowded yet magical confines that is Heartfelt.

If you want a holiday shopping experience with air space, good taste, light, a piano and kindness…. stop by 301 Cortland.

Two questions have come up repeatedly:

1. “Is this a holiday store?”

Nope, it is open for the holidays but will have a variety of stuff.

2.” Is it the same stuff?”

Of course it is not the same stuff… that stuff is down at Heartfelt. This is other stuff.

We are also raising dollars for two charities gift drives this year.  We are helping to buy presents for all the residents of Curran House in the Tenderloin and of course the Infamous BHNC Holiday Toy Drive.  Giving=getting!

Raven Theft Highlights Challenges of Being a Bernal Merchant

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Over the years, your Bernalwood editor has gradually received an eye-opening education in the challenges faced by many of our neighborhood merchants.

Never mind higher-level stuff like marketing, advertising, parking, margins, and worrying about tectonic shifts in the retail environment triggered by ecommerce and Amazon. No, the matters that impress us most are the day-to-day issues that arise from the fact that when you operate a storefront, you are quite literally opening up your front door to anyone who decides to walk through it — for better or for worse.

Neighbor Darcy Lee from Heartfelt on Cortland is normally unflappable in this regard; She is a pro, so she handles most oddball encounters with the general public in stride. But a shoplifting incident last week really got under her skin. Neighbor Darcy writes:

We have/had a beautiful raven piece that sells for $650. We have sold two over the years. They are one-of-a-kind and the artist does not always make the raven, but recently we got it in again!

And then the other day I noticed it was gone. I had just done a display with it, so I knew it had been stolen very recently. It is big (18″ long) and a focal point in the store. Then I started counting the other hand carved birds that are by the same person. We are missing 5 altogether, which adds up to $2,000 in sales.

I filed a police report.

This part of retail is pretty tough – and I have taken it hard. Part of store ownership is being in denial about theft — if not, one would be constantly worried and or paranoid. That said, one must also be prudent. I will have security cameras installed. Blchhh.

On that last note… Darcy tells Bernalwood she seeks recommendations for a good security camera installation and service provider. Not just a camera, she says; she hopes to find someone who will install and support a new security camera system. So if you have any recommendations, you know where to find her…. as always, the front door at Heartfelt is wide open during normal business hours.

Secession Art & Design Staying in Bernal, Moving North on Mission, Seeking Your Support

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We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Secession Art & Design is a Bernalwood treasure. Part creative studio, part art gallery, part fashion boutique, owner Eden Stein’s has carved out a very special place for Secession’s store on Mission just across from our Taoist Safeway.

But Secession is also vulnerable to the winds of change, which now  require a move up the street to 3235 Mission, the former SoCha Cafe/former Dell’uva Wine Bar space, a few blocks north near Valencia. Eden explains:

After 7 wonderful years, we are excited to announce that Secession Art & Design will be relocating to a new location. Our store, gallery and studio is moving two short blocks up the street, from 3361 Mission St to 3235 Mission St. Like many things in life, what began as a pretty daunting experience has turned into an inspiring opportunity.

When we heard in August of this year that our lease would not be renewed, we were somewhat shocked and taken aback, but we were determined that Secession Art & Design should remain in our current neighborhood. After two months of searching—with help from real estate brokers and support from friends and family—we finally found a space that we know is going to be the perfect fit for Secession.

But it’s going to need to be built from the ground up. […]

We are so heartened by your support throughout the years, and we’ve fought long and hard to stay in the Bernal neighborhood so we can continue to be a part of the health and wealth of our collective community.

To help fund the buildout of the new space, Secession Art & Design has created a fundraising page. Take a look, make a contribution if you’re so inclined, and let’s all say hurrah that Team Secession is staying in Bernal Heights.

PHOTO: Eden Stein via Secession Art & Design

Ode to a Basic Donut: Eagle Donuts Will Close on Monday

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The donut days at Eagle Donuts at 3303 Mission (@ 29th Street) are coming to an end.

On Monday, Eagle Donuts will close for good.

The most remarkable thing about Eagle Donuts is that there is nothing remarkable about it. No seasonal ingredients, or delicate toppings, or clever combinations. Nothing involving bacon. Eagle Donuts makes essential donuts: glazed or old-fashioned, with different kinds of frosting-like stuff on top. Yesterday I bought a bag of a half-dozen for $5.50.

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In other words, Eagle Donuts makes the kind of donuts that helped make America.

So when Eagle Donuts disappears, a classic kind of donut shop will disappear with it. After Eagle Donuts, your Bernalwood editor knows of no equivalent in Bernal Heights. (NOTE: The Silver Crest doesn’t count, because they also serve Ouzo.) If current trends continue, it’s a safe prediction that from here on out, Bernal’s donut future will likely be increasingly twee. We are confident it will be delicious, of course, but we also know it just won’t be the same.

It’s no one’s fault; Change is the only constant. Eagle Donuts opened in 1994, and Sherry from behind the counter — that’s Sherry, above — told Bernalwood she’s been here the entire time. She said rising rents weren’t so much of an issue. She said donuts just aren’t a very lucrative product these days, and costs keep going up. Milk prices, sugar prices, the minimum wage… all going up. Basically, Sherry said, after 20 years, it’s time to move on.

So on Monday, Eagle Donuts will close forever.

Stop in this weekend to get a final taste, and wish Sherry all the best.

Finally, for the benefit of future bloggers and culinary historians, Bernalwood also provides these supplementary detail photos of Eagle Donuts, as taken on October 16, 2014, which are here intended to illustrate what a typical late twentieth century donut shop looked like during the second decade of the twenty-first century:

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PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Sexy New Parklet Completed In Front of VinoRosso on Cortland

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A few weeks ago, I noticed that construction had started on the new (and mildly controversial) parklet on Cortland Avenue at Anderson, right in front of VinoRosso Enoteca and the Inclusions Gallery.

Last weekend I noticed that construction was complete, and the parklet was already in use. Though last weekend’s warm weather certainly helped, the sidewalk scene in the new parklet night was booming. Very chic. Ridiculously glamorous. Rather cosmopolitan.

Opinions may vary, but I’m innnnnterested to see how/if this new parklet will influence Cortlandia’s robust social ecology.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Rumor Report: Gourmet Food Store Coming to Former Red Hill Books Space

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A nosy curious Bernal neighbor heard some innnnnnteresting things about what’s planned for the former (and much-lamented) Red Hill/Badger Books space on Cortland at Bennington:

I caught Matt locking up the old Red Hill Books and asked if I could be nosy and ask what he’s planning…

He was sweet, said it’s not a secret. The corner of Cortland and Bennington will become The Epicurean Trader — gourmet and local packaged goods. He’s hoping that locals will tell them what’s missing from the other nearby shops so he can keep us all stocked in fav products (not compete with Good Life or Avedanos). They also plan to invite local purveyors to present and so on and such  I think he also mentioned selling wine and beer too, but not positive.

Hmmmmmm. Bernalwood reached out to the owner of the building for comment, but we have not yet received a response.

Treat this as a rumor for now, although in the last few days several other Cortland merchants and curious neighbors have also told Bernalwood more-or-less the same thing about the plan for this storefront. Stay tuned…

PHOTO: via Google Maps