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

Epicurean Trader Opening This Morning on Cortland



This morning, The Epicurean Trader will open for business at 401 Cortland, on the corner of Bennington, for the very first time. Grand Opening! Woo hoo!

That said, when your Bernalwood editor first heard that the business would be called The Epicurean Trader, I was gravely concerned. Sure, the fetishism of San Francisco food aficionados can be a bit obnoxious at times. But a business dedicated entirely to the buying and selling of epicureans? As if they were human chattel? Well, let’s just say that seemed a bit extreme.

Fortunately, co-proprietor Holly McDell helped clear things up. Rest assured, she says, the Epicurean Trader will not engage in the buying and selling of epicureans. Instead, it will facilitate the the buying and selling of artisanal food products to epicureans. Whew! Bernalwood is very relieved.

Here’s what else Neighbor Holly has to say about The Epicurean Trader:

My husband Mat and I moved to Bernal (on Putnam) a few years ago, after having our first child. We fell in love with the neighborhood and the sense of community.

The store is called The Epicurean Trader. Inside the store you’ll find hand-selected small batch artisan products from across America, chosen for their incredible flavors and fusions, natural ingredients, and beautiful packaging.

As you are probably aware, there are many amazing products out there that struggle to get into large wholesale accounts for a number of reasons (reliance on distributors, lack of capital or brand awareness etc). Our goal is to be a brand ambassador for these smaller brands, sharing their unique stories, and bringing many of them to San Francisco for the first time.


We aim to provide a space for Bernal residents to discover and taste the best artisanal foods from across the country. In addition, we will have a curated selection of wines, craft beers, and small batch distilled spirits. On the wine side we are working with Bernal local Jason Moore of Alluvial Wines, as well as Alex Finberg (former sommelier of Farina, and trusted consultant for some of San Francisco’s top restaurants and markets). They have kindly shared their experience and palates to develop a wine program specifically for the Bernal demographic. We aim to have a selection of amazing wines at every price point, to enjoy both mid week, as well as on special occasions.

By working directly with brands and avoiding distributors wherever possible, we aim to offer these products at affordable prices. We see our product selection as being complementary that of The Good Life and Avedano’s.

We’re also going to have in-store tastings where the artisans and wine makers etc can come and share their stories.

Neighbor Holly says The Epicurean Trader will be open at 11 am today. We say: Welcome!

PHOTOS: Courtesy of The Epicurean Trader

Saturday: An Anniversary Celebration for Bernal’s Beautiful Public Library


Bernal Story Cloud_corner

It’s been a long and at times arduous road. But today, the renovations are done, the new murals are complete, and Bernal Heights now has a stone-cold sexy public library to carry us into the twenty-first century.

That’s cause for celebration.

So let’s celebrate! The Bernal Heights Branch is having a 5th Anniversary bash on Saturday, January 24, 2015 from 2 – 4 pm, and you’re on the guest list:

Please join Bernal Heights Branch and Bernal Library Art Project for a celebration of our branch’s renovation and the mural project completion. We will congratulate the mural team and enjoy music, crafts, legos and refreshments.  Long-time Bernal resident Michael Govea and Los Compas will perform from their repertoire of Latin salsa music.

When: Saturday, 1/24/2015, 2:00 – 4:00
Where: Bernal Heights Meeting Room
Bernal Heights, 500 Cortland Avenue

5 year_tabloidPHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Below, courtesy of Bernal Library Mural Project


Fancy Boot Workshop and Store Opens in La Lengua



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.


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.

Bernal Neighbor Installs Sutro Tower Garden Sculpture, Adorns It With Seasonal Cheer


After months of patient design and fabrication, Neighbor Orlando has finally installed his iron model of Sutro Tower in front of his Folsom Street home.

Fabricated by artist Mario Cro, Neighbor Orlando’s Sutro Tower stands around 5′ tall — versus 977′ for that other one on Twin Peaks — and he intends to use it as a permanent piece of garden sculpture. He tells Bernalwood:

In the end, this was well worth the wait. Good things take time, you know? This was one of them.

The names of the heads of households of the prior two generations of my family members have been stamped on the piece itself. The original motivation for the project was to have something permanent placed at the forefront of the home, remembering and commemorating those who came before me who were ultimately responsible for giving me the opportunity to be raised in this warm and beautiful neighborhood. Their names are located on the bottom truss. with space left for my name just directly below.

Impressive. Also, to give the piece some seasonal flair, Neighbor Orlando has decorated his Sutro Tower and surrounding garden in a Christmas theme.

Here are a few more photos of Neighbor Orlando’s awesome iron model of Sutro Tower, shown during it’s Holiday 2014 debut. Someday you can tell your grandkids you saw it when it was new:



PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics


New, Hawaiian-Style Brunch Pop-up Coming to 903 Cortland


There’s a new weekend-only brunch pop-up coming to the space at 903 Cortland. The pop-up is called āina, and like the name, the food will be Hawaiian. The restaurant will open up to the public this Saturday, November 22, with plans to serve brunch every weekend,  Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-2 pm.

Team āina tells Bernalwood:

We are excited to provide a new brunch option for the Bernal Heights neighborhood at our new pop-up, called ‘āina (903 Cortland Avenue, CA 94110). ‘āina is from the Hawaiian language, and means land/earth. Jordan Keao, the chef, lives smack in Bernal; Jason Alonzo runs the front of the house, and he lives just down the hill.

Our idea is to incorporate all our past experiences and finally work for ourselves, allowing great creativity and responsible food sourcing. Everything we serve will be from the land or transformed from what the land has given to us. The food will have an Asian or Hawaiian influence with a breath of the classic breakfast dishes. We will cook with the seasons, using local ingredients from the bay area, as well as local ingredients from the chef’s home, the Big Island of Hawai’i. Our Facebook page has more information and a sample of our menu.

From Jordan (the chef) and Jason (front of house).

Here’s a sample menu:


PHOTO: Poached egg, smoked royal king trumpet mushrooms, kabocha squash puree, wild watercress with some Chinese sausage Lap Cheong on top, from āina via Facebook