Coming Soon: Ampersand, a Tiny New Shop from Team Heartfelt


Neighbor Darcy Lee, a resident of Alemanistan and owner of Heartfelt on Cortland, has a new shop in the works. The new place will be just across the street, in the tiny former storefront at 409 Cortland, near Bennington between Epicurean Trader and Vega.

We’ve heard Neighbor Darcy describe Heartfelt as a “general store for the 21st century,” and her new place will take that idea in a slightly different direction.  She tells Bernalwood:

Wanted to let you know that I signed a lease for a storefront on Cortland in our block (409 Cortland Ave). It will be a small shop called Ampersand, and we will carry women’s clothing, accessories, books and good cheer.

When I incorporated Heartfelt, the name Heartfelt was taken so I added an “&” and it has brought me good luck ever since. Thus the name.

There will not be a ton of books, but I can special order almost any title and for those who like our smattering of clothing found at Heartfelt, there will actually be a changing room! And more choices! We plan on soft opening October 1st, if not before. Promise to keep you posted.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Heartfelt

Tonight: Grand Opening Celebration for New East-West Bernal Clinic on Cortland


Neighbor Nicole Kurth, a resident of Bernal’s glamorous Santana Rancho district, invites you the grand opening gala for East-West Bernal, the new integrative therapy clinic located at 486 Cortland, in the former Integral Body space. The grand opening happens this evening, and Neighbor Nicole writes:

I’m writing to invite all of our neighbors to join us for our Grand Opening Celebration of East West Bernal on Wednesday, August 26, from 5:30pm-8:00pm. We’re located at 406 Cortland, in the space formerly occupied by The Integral Body.

This is a second location for East West Integrative Medicine, which is an acupuncture and massage therapy clinic that’s been in business for over 12 years on Chenery St in Glen Park.

Marnie McCurdy and her experienced team of acupuncturists, massage therapists, and homeopaths will be available to provide free sample treatments and demonstrations throughout the evening. Mini massages, pulse readings, ear seed acupuncture, and refreshments will be offered on an ongoing basis. At 6pm and 7pm respectively, we’ll offer a Kombucha class and a Jin Shin Jyutsu demonstration.

Come check out our space, meet our team, get a free treatment… We look forward to meeting our neighbors and providing Bernal with the best in health and wellness services.

PHOTO: Courtesy of East West Bernal

Fumi Curry Now Open on Mission Street in Bernal’s NanoTokyo District



There’s a new grand opening to celebrate in NanoTokyo, the emerging cluster of Japanese restaurants located around Mission and 29th Streets in Bernal Heights. Last night, Fumi Curry & Seafood opened for business for the very first time in the former Eagle Donuts location at 3303 Mission.

Neighbor Jen took the family for a test-drive dinner at Fumi last night, and she filed this report:


First night open was last night. We had a curry chicken, curry crab fried rice, and the kids teriyaki chicken meal (shown above). All were very good! Not like the best you’ve ever had, but definitely above average. Kids meal was a great value for $6 and even included a little toy yo-yo. Lots of families with young children there and one couple on a date who seemed a bit overwhelmed by the family crowd. Good service and the place looks amazing. As much as I miss Eagle Donuts, the decor is a distinct improvement.

Hurrah! Sounds encouraging.

Oh, and if you’re not familiar with the joyful world of Japanese-style curry, check out Bernalwood’s primer on the subject here.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics (above) and Neighbor Jen

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



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.


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.


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:


Otherwise, you can also get any of this:


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:



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

Bel, the New Belgian-Style Gastropub, Now Open on Mission


Belgian beer lovers and moules frites fans rejoice! Inside Scoop brings the news that Bel has at last opened for business at 3215 Mission Street near Valencia. They write:

Some foods were just made to go with beer. This is nothing new to Richard Rosen and Jennifer Garris, the team behind the Mission’s craft beer and pizza joint, Pi Bar.

With the opening their brand new Bernal Heights’ gastropub, Bel, the pair are at it again — this time, tackling the beers and foods of Belgium. Located in the former Locavore space on Mission, at Valencia Street, the restaurant opened its doors Sunday night (5/25).

On the beer front, expect a range of saison, Trappist, sours and fruit beers, among others. According to Garris, of the twelve drafts, four will be dedicated to a rotating roster of Belgian beers. Also available, a variety of California-made Belgian-style brews and a bottle list of about 45 Belgian bottles. Wines will be mostly French and German. (The full drink list is online.)

Rosen’s menu, which is comprised of small and large plates, looks promising, and of course, includes an obligatory interpretation of moules frites. Other classic Belgian offerings include a Ghent-style fish chowder made with prawns, mussels and cod called seafood waterzooi and carbonades flamandes — a dish made with beef brisket and Flemish sour beer, Rodenbach. On the side, in addition to frites, you’ll find a chiffonade of Brussels sprouts and a Belgian endive gratin.

Here’s the menu.

Oh, and be advised, Bel has even installed their very own Manneken Pis. What’s a Manneken Pis? Apparently, that’s Belgian for this fella:


PHOTOS: via Bel

Tonight: Design Review for Two Proposed Homes at the Tippy-Top of Coso


There will be a lively meeting of the Northwest Bernal Heights Design Review Board tonight at the Bernal Library, as members of the board consider a proposal to build two single-family homes on two undeveloped lots at the northwest corner of Coso and Bonview.

The parcels in question have sat empty since basically forever, but with housing in short supply, private developers have now put forward a plan to build there. However, given the site’s high-profile location, and the fact that it has functioned as a de facto extension of Bernal Heights Park for a long time, the forces of no are rallying to oppose the plan.

Posters around the proposed housing site proclaim “No Big Box Houses in Bernal,” while showing an image of an unrelated project in Corona Heights that is being built by the same construction company. (On the bright side, at least this poster does not include a simulated blast-radius.) When Bernalwood visited the site over the weekend, one neighbor described the proposed homes as “McMansions.”


Such designations are subjective and intentionally pejorative, however, so here are a few concrete facts about the proposed development that Bernalwood has been able to uncover: The proposal calls for the construction of two adjacent single-family homes, on privately-owned land at 6 Bonview and 409 Coso. The former will be 2225 sq-ft; the latter will be 2558 square-feet. Each will provide off-street parking. Design-wise, both generally and generically reflect the “Dwell-inspired” style that is so common for new urban homes these days, which is to say the facades are a mix of rectangular forms, stucco, horizontal wood slats, metal, and glass. Most crucially, however, both homes appear to conform to the strict planning, design, and height guidelines of the Bernal Height Special Use District.

Of course, when it comes to new construction in San Francisco neighborhoods, facts and feelings seldom align. That reality will likely be on full display this evening, so if you’d like to partake of the spectacle, the design review board will meet tonight, May 26, at 7:30 pm in the Bernal Library on Cortland. Bernalwood will also share drawings of the proposed development when they are available.

UPDATE, 27 May: The designs for the two new houses have now been revealed.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics

Ugly-Ass Roll-Up Door Removed from Former Park Bench Cafe Space


Sometimes, when you put on your sparkly red shoes and click your heels together three times, your wishes are granted. For a lost girl named Dorothy, that meant returning home to Kansas. For many residents of Precitaville, one such wish would be to remove the heavy steel roll-up door that covers the former Park Bench Cafe on Folsom; the one that makes the streetscape seem so dismal.

Neighbor Nina lives just up the street from the former Park Bench space, and she has spent a lot of time wearing her sparkly red shoes and clicking her heels together. Yesterday she finally got her wish: The heavy steel door was removed from the storefront. Hurrah!

But wait … Does the removal of the steel door mean that something exciting and new is coming to the former Park Bench Cafe space, which has been dormant and empty for several fallow years?!?

Why, yes it does. It means exactly that.

But then the question becomes: What’s gonna happen there?!?

Bernalwood doesn’t have many details right now, but lets just say that if you were to put on your sparkly red shoes and click your heels together three times and wish for a delicious gourmet pizza place founded by another longtime Precitaville neighbor… well, we have reason to believe your wish might soon come true.

PHOTO: Neighbor Nina