Neighbor Eliza’s Red Apron Pizzeria Is Coming Soon to Precita Park


For the last few months, the windows of the former Park Bench Cafe at 3214 Folsom (on the corner with Bessie at the west end of Precita Park) have been papered-over to hide the construction taking place inside. The bold, handmade graphics on the paper say “It Will Happen”  — a message that serves as both a tease for Bernal neighbors and a mantra for the woman who is spearheading the project.

That woman is Neighbor Eliza Laffin of Alabama Street, and when work is complete the storefront will become home to Red Apron Pizza. Neighbor Eliza tells us more about what to expect:

My tag line is: Every neighborhood deserves great pizza.

I’ve always wanted a pizza restaurant in the ‘hood. I’ve spent 20 years dreaming about it. And now I’m going to make it happen!

I want customers to walk in the door and see a kitchen at home. Red Apron Pizzeria is a place where our neighborhood will enjoy great pizza, made with great ingredients, and a place kids will enjoy. It will be warm, welcoming, and family-friendly; approachable, unfussy, and absolutely first-rate.

I want to make Red Apron the best pizzeria in the neighborhood. (Adjacent territories also welcome, of course!)

As a preview of coming attractions, Neighbor Eliza also shared some photos of her food. Here’s a slice of her pizza, with toasted pignoli-basil pesto, sliced yukon gold potato, chèvre, and a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top:


And for dessert, here are some of her zeppoles:


Yum! A preview of what’ll be on the rest of the menu is right here.

The Gods of Construction and The Myriad Permits are notoriously fickle and angry, but with a little luck Neighbor Eliza hopes to open Red Apron Pizza sometime in January. Please root for her, and join with her to recite the mantra: “It. Will. Happen!

PHOTOS: Top, Telstar Logistics. Food, courtesy of Red Apron Pizza

Sandwich-Making Robot in Andi’s Market Looks Like Terminator, Tastes Like Proust


Last week, a new worker joined the staff at Andi’s Market on Cortland Avenue: a fully automated, sandwich-making robot. Created by Bistrobot, the newfangled machine makes peanut butter sandwiches on fancy white bread with your choice of honey, blackberry jam, sweet chili, or chocolate sauce.


Bistrobot CTO Hamid Sani tells Bernalwood:

The machine at the Andi’s market is our first deployed automated sandwich maker. The machine is placed inside the store and the customer can place an order through a tablet kiosk, pay $2 (cash or credit), and watch our robot make them a custom sandwich. Simple as that.

Bistrobot is a startup that recently graduated from Y Combinator. We have a small but dedicated team with the goal of making robotic platforms that can make food, starting with sandwiches.

Neighbor Flo adds that some Bernal Heights DNA flows deep within the Bistrobot’s mechanized heart:

I live on Ellsworth St. My nephew, Steve Littell, is a chef and machinist from Chicago who came to SF with five engineer start-up buddies for the purpose of making this machine and others like it with more sophistication. My nephew now lives on Ellsworth St. too!

Locavore robots! Perhaps this was inevitable.

Neighbor Darcy filmed a video of the sandwichbot in action:

Yesterday, your Bernalwood editor visited Andi’s to conduct my own taste test of our robotic sandwich future. I ordered a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and when it emerged from the Bistrobot’s mechanical maw, it looked like this:


And the taste? Well, it tasted just like a sandwich mom would have made — if mom was a faceless automaton who looked like a mutant Lionel train set encased in a transparent plastic box. As a culinary experience, it was certainly worthy of any school lunchbox. As an entertainment experience, it was far more tasty than anything you’d get at the Musée Méchanique — and much closer to home too.

But don’t take my word for it. Stop by Andi’s Market, 820 Cortland (between Ellsworth and Gates) and command the Bistrobot to make you a sandwich.  Do it while you still can, because today, the sandwich robot works for you. Someday, however, you may work for it.

PHOTOS: Telstar Logistics. Video courtesy of Darcy Lee

Yet Another PG&E Power Outage Leaves Bernal Neighbors Seething


There was another power outage in Bernal Heights on Sunday morning, in the most recent in a series of localized blackouts and dangerous equipment failures that have left some Bernal neighbors questioning PG&E’s competence.

ABC7 carried a Bay City News report on Sunday’s incident:

Roughly 4,000 power customers in and around San Francisco’s Bernal Heights and Portrero Hill neighborhoods lost electricity Sunday morning after a PG&E equipment failure, according to utility officials.

The outage was reported at 8:32 a.m., after an unspecified equipment failure in the vicinity of 25th Street and Potrero Avenue. Crews on scene say rainwater ran down an electrical pole, causing a fire and the power outage.

Frustration with PG&E wasn’t hard to find:

It’s probably best to consider this a preview of coming attractions. With El Niño-grade winter storms still to come, this is a good time to remind all Bernalese to stock up on flashlights, lanterns, and batteries for future outages that are likely to follow.

Hot Pink Shark Mural Inspires Aspiring Local Artist


Opinions about the bold mural on the side of the “Helipad House” at the top of Folsom in North Bernal have been polarized practically from the instant when muralist  Casey O’Connell first put down her paintbrush. Nevertheless, the mural recently provided a muse for one emerging local artist, as shown in this image shared by Eric Silman.

It’s awesome, and even more so when you compare its fidelity to the original:


Why Mayor Lee’s Pre-Election Tour of Holly Courts Still Matters



A few days before the recent election, Mayor Lee toured Holly Courts, the public housing located just west of Holly Park. (Historical Fun Facts: Holly Courts was San Francisco’s very first public housing project, and it was designed by Arthur Brown Jr., the same architect who created City Hall and Coit Tower.)

At the time, the mayor came to Holly Courts to build support for Prop A, the $310 million affordable housing bond that ultimately passed by a comfortable margin. Yet now that Prop A was approved, Joshua Arce, a Mission-based civil rights attorney who works with the Holly Courts Resident Board, tells Bernalwood why the mayor’s pre-election visit matters even more:

Days before last week’s election, Mayor Ed Lee made a surprise visit to Bernal’s Holly Courts public housing community to help build support for an increased investment in affordable housing across all San Francisco neighborhoods.

Lee came to tour one of the City’s oldest, but most resilient, public housing sites alongside Holly Courts Resident Board President Deborah Gibson and me. (I serve as pro bono counsel for the Holly Courts Board.)

Gibson and Holly Courts residents Gail Love and Herman Travis used the opportunity to show the Mayor several housing units and outdoor gathering areas in need of repair, and to discuss concerns that other residents have shared with them. In return the Mayor expressed his desire to work more closely with residents of Holly Courts and other public housing communities as the City applies federal funding to make much needed repairs at properties formerly managed by the Housing Authority.

Mayor Lee grew up in public housing in Seattle and decided to make the stop as part of a final push to build support for the Prop. A Housing Bond led by public housing resident-volunteers from the A. Philip Randolph Institute.

Mayor Lee thanked President Gibson at the end of the hour-long tour and asked the residents to stay in communication as his office works through the lists of Holly Courts concerns that were raised. With the bond approved by an overwhelming number of San Franciscans, the Mayor’s Office now has additional resources to help make good on these commitments, and the residents themselves are highly engaged in the process of holding the City accountable.

PHOTOS: Courtesy of Larry Wong

Saturday: You’re Invited to the Bernal Mosque and Islamic Center’s First-Ever Open House


Ask and ye shall receive! Thanks to the the amazing response we received for Bernalwood’s interview with Zishan Safdar about South Bernal’s Mosque and Islamic Center, the mosque is holding an open house for the Bernal community this Saturday, November 14.

Zishan extends the invitation:

This is going to be ICSF’s first open-house event since it was founded in 1959. Better late than never, right?

We’re all super-excited and hope you are, too! During the event, there will be background history about the mosque, the events that go on there, Q&A, and most importantly, some mouth-watering snacks.

We look forward to seeing all of you at the event on Saturday, November 14th, 2015.

EVERYONE is welcome! :)

The open house will go from 12pm to 2pm at the mosque on the corner of Crescent and Andover. If you plan to attend (and you should!), please RSVP to Full details below: