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Jul-25-2013

Cassava Bakery taps the community to fund a new outdoor patio

It’s been just over a year since Cassava Bakery opened on Balboa near 36th Avenue, but the small cafe, owned by married couple Yuka Ioroi and Kristoffer Toliao, has already expanded.

The cafe has been popular since it opened, offering up a unique Japanese breakfast, tasty cafe bites from chef Kris, great coffee, and pop-up dinners on Friday nights with gourmet menus.

But the real reason it’s popular is its atmosphere and neighborhood feel. Yuka and Kris know their customers, and make them feel at home and comfortable. I remember stopping in early on and having to sit outside because their few inside tables were full. Yuka came out with warm blankets to put on us to weather the Richmond fog.

Earlier this month, “Cassava 2.0″ re-opened after completing construction to expand into the space next door.

That expansion, coupled with a larger restaurant menu and future bar service, is inching Cassava closer to the vision Yuka and Kris have of bringing the Parisian cafe experience to the outer Richmond District. A place where neighbors can come together, enjoy good food and drink, discuss the issues of the day, or just relax.

To keep going, Cassava is turning to the community via Kickstarter for help with bringing their next vision to life: an outdoor patio featuring an edible garden that chef Kris can cook with.

It’s not the first time a local business has turned to its supporters for financial help. In Late 2011, the Bazaar Cafe on California Street revealed that they were struggling financially, and would have to close. Customers and community members stepped up and donated $20,000 to keep the cafe in business.

Check out Cassava’s video above, and if you’d like to contribute to their vision, visit their Kickstarter page. As with most Kickstarter projects, different levels of contribution to Cassava’s project comes with a bonus like an e-book of Chef Kris’ favorite recipes, invitation to a private thank you party, 3-course meals prepared by Chef Kris, and even a 1 on 1 cooking lesson.

Every Kickstarter contribution is a pledge – if Cassava doesn’t make their goal, no one contributes. Their goal is to raise $20,000 by August 2, and they’re over halfway there.

Good luck Cassava!

Sarah B.

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 1:50 pm | Posted under Business, Food | 13 comments
Jul-25-2013

Photos: (Love?)Shack on wheels parked by Lincoln Park


Photo by James F.

We got an email from reader James F. earlier this week that said “There has been an unusual trailer parked on Clement street by Lincoln Park golf course around 38th – 40th avenues. It would make a good picture.”

So we said sure, send us a pic! And boy, he wasn’t kidding.

This looks like a full house on wheels. Ok, maybe more like a shack, but this is a pretty elaborate “trailer”. We particularly like the attic window detail and front porch.

Is this the Love Shack that the B-52s were singing about?

UPDATE: The owner, Alex B., has revealed himself in a comment: “Good Morning!!! That’s my house. I built that Tiny House back in NC. It’s name is Nod, which means to wander.”

Sarah B.


Photo by James F.

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 5:06 am | Posted under Transportation | 12 comments
Jul-24-2013

3 Mules seen traveling through Richmond District


The mules in Corte Madera on their way south to SF. Photo by Brian Narelle

Something unusual passed through the neighborhood last week – 3 mules.

But they’re not just any pack of mules – they have a cult following and even have their own website, 3mules.com, and a Facebook page with over 2,000 fans.

The three beasts of burden are led by 65 year old John Sears, who also likes to just be called “Mule”. They’ve been traveling for the past three decades and have made their way through sixteen western states, according to their website.

The purpose of this cross-country mule expedition? To call attention to the increasing trend of urban sprawl.

“Open spaces where they once moved through freely, and sometimes spent the night in a secluded spot, were disappearing,” the website says.

In February while passing through San Diego, Sears told a local news station, “There must be a balance between the man-made world and the natural world,” he said. “We can’t live in this unbalanced state and we all know it.”

While their leader prefers the simple moniker of “Mule”, the three mules have names – Little Girl, Lady and Pepper – and have quite a following online. During their trip through San Diego, fans tracked down the caravan to bring carrots and cash.

And while their journey may seem idyllic, the pack is not always welcome. They often meet resistance from rangers who don’t want them camping, and in Torrey Pines, Sears and the mules were issued a $485 citation for unlawful camping. He and the mules will be due in court later this year to address the citation.

We’ll be hearing more about the 3 mules in the coming months. Filmmaker John McDonald is working on a documentary about Sears, Little Girl, Lady and Pepper, and keeps the Facebook page updated with the latest developments.

On Sunday, the pack entered the city via the Golden Gate Bridge but not on foot – the bridge manager trailered them across instead. From there they entered Golden Gate Park where they spent the night “in an arena”. Perhaps the Polo Fields?

Safe travels, 3 mules. Thanks to reader Kay V. for the tip.

Sarah B.


Photo by Brian Narelle


The mules in Corte Madera on their way south to SF. Photo by Brian Narelle

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 5:03 am | Posted under Golden Gate Park | 6 comments
Jul-23-2013

Get ready for Jog in the Fog with Bright1Fitness training runs, every Wed night

Our Richmond District Jog in the Fog 5k fun run is coming up on September 8. And whether a 5k is a cake walk for you, or you’ve never run one before, Bright1Fitness, a race sponsor, can help get you ready with training runs every Wednesday night leading up to the race.

The group meets just inside the 14th Avenue Presidio gate on Wednesday nights at 6:30pm (directions).

The runs are led by Bright1Fitness owner and RRCA Certified Running Coach Brighton Miller, who welcomes all levels to the Wednesday night runs.

“Whether you’re running your very first 5k, or just need to blow the dust off your running shoes, come out and join us on Wednesday nights. You might meet some nice neighbors too!” Miller said.

Your first training run is free, thereafter you can buy a discount package or pay a $10 drop-in fee every week.

And in related news, Bright1Fitness is a finalist for the Red Tricycle “Most Awesome Mom Fitness Programs”. Vote here to help them win!

We’ll see you out there!

Sarah B.

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 5:30 am | Posted under Events | 1 comment
Jul-23-2013

Topless tour bus runs into street wires on 12th Avenue, injures five passengers

The Chronicle reported that five people were injured after the “topless” tour bus they were riding ran into some overhead wires while driving through the Richmond District on Friday afternoon.

The double decker bus, operated by Big Bus Tours, was heading north on 12th Avenue around 3:15pm.

As they crossed the intersection of Balboa and headed towards Anza, a low hanging wire first hit the bus’ windshield, popped over the windshield, and then collided with some passengers riding on the top level of the bus, which is open to the air.

Four passengers suffered cuts and bruises on their face and hands, and another woman, 67 years old, had injuries on her face and head. Four were taken to to San Francisco General Hospital, but all were released later that evening.

The Big Bus Tours driver had veered off the normal Park Presidio route to try and avoid snarled traffic on the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. The alternate route on 12th Avenue was a designated backup route and is regularly used by the bus company.

But what he didn’t expect was that one of the overhead wires on that block of 12th Avenue had come loose and was hanging lower than normal.

Thankfully there were no serious injuries. It’s not clear whose wire became dislodged or if it’s been fixed since Friday. But let’s hope another group of bus tourists doesn’t get a nasty surprise like this.

Sarah B.

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 5:24 am | Posted under Transportation | 12 comments
Jul-22-2013

Free Health and Wellness Fair at the RDNC, July 25

This Thursday from 10am until 1pm, the Richmond District Neighborhood Center is hosting their first Health and Wellness Fair.

The event is organized by the students of the summer Junior Nurses Program, a RDNC program designed to give high school students an idea of what to expect in nursing school.

The fair will offer free information on stroke, seizure, heart attack, and diabetes, and will also feature booths from the Institute of Aging and the Richmond Village Beacon.

Junior Nurses Program organizer Abigail Pejoro tells us, “the high school students are doing the health fair to utilize what they’ve learned in the program in a healthcare setting – the community. Students will showcase what we’ve taught them by doing various health teachings and assessments. It will be supervised by student nurses and registered nurses to ensure that the students are providing accurate information and doing assessments properly. We will also answer any questions that the high school students may not be able to answer.”

The fair takes place this Thursday from 10am until 1pm at the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, 741 30th Avenue between Balboa and Cabrillo.

Sarah B.

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 3:10 pm | Posted under Events, Health | Comments Off
Jul-22-2013

Ro Cafe brings Turkish coffee, baklava and other Kurdish delights to 5th & Calif.


Owner Havin Gavgasi stands outside Ro Cafe on 5th & California

Tucked on the southwest corner of 5th and California is the new Ro Cafe, a Kurdish cafe that has been open for just over a month.

Owner Havin Gavgasi, who came to the U.S. four years ago from Kurdistan, took over the lease from the previous cafe. She worked in cafes previously in her career and said she’s always wanted to open her own place.

Ro Cafe serves Graffeo Coffee from North Beach, and offers a Turkish version for those who like a good punch in their cup. The menu features many traditional Kurdish dishes including Kurdish Baklava and Kurdish flatbread, which Gavgasi says is a favorite.

She prepares the flatbread fresh when you order, rolling out the dough and preparing it on a hot flat grill, similar to a crepe cooker. But the final result is a thicker bread, like a thin pizza crust.

The Kurdish Flatbread Panini ($7.25) on the menu is a mix of feta cheese, chopped Italian parsley, and cooked onion placed between two thin layers of fresh dough and baked on the hot grill. It’s served with a side of sliced tomatoes and homemade sauce. You can add chicken to it for an additional $2.

The Kurdish style couscous is another item that Gavgasi says usually surprises people because it’s a little different than other couscous they’ve had before. Her recipe combines couscous with mixed tomato paste, parsley, green onion with Kurdish spices, served with fresh tomatoes and lemon on the side. She says several customers have been happily surprised with her version, and have come back into the cafe to order it again.

The menu also includes a few other sandwiches including a Veggie Sandwich ($5.25), a Chicken Breast Wrap served on Middle Eastern Pita Pita Bread ($6.95), and a Feta Beef Roll, which is oven baked.

If you’re stopping by in the morning, order a Corek (pronounced Chorek), a traditional Kurdish breakfast pastry. One variety has pesto and cheese inside. The cafe also offers a Kurdish Veggie Omelet with a side of ciabatta bread toast.

We tried the baklava while we were there and it was delicious – light, very flaky and sweet. You get two small slices (egg roll size) for $3.25. The other dessert on the menu is Kurdish pudding, served cold.

Gavgasi called her new business Ro Cafe because Ro means “river” in her language, and her native Kurdistan is criss-crossed with them. Cafes in her home country make tea and coffee with water from the rivers, and believe its clean properties make the beverages taste better.

“And Ro is easy to say,” Gavgasi said, laughing. “I also really like the neighbors – they are friendly and come shop here to support my business.”

While we were there, local resident Patricia was enjoying the free Wifi, and eagerly awaiting her flatbread. She lives on Geary and 2nd, and said she escapes to Ro Cafe for good food, as well as some peace and quiet.

Ro Cafe is located at 195 5th Avenue on the corner of California, and is open from 7am until 7pm every day. Stop in to try some Kurdish delights and welcome them to the neighborhood!

Sarah B.


The baklava pastry was very tasty!

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 5:25 am | Posted under Business, Food | 5 comments
Jul-22-2013

Condos with ground floor retail coming to Balboa & 36th Ave


A rendering of the new development from Shatara Architecture. View more (PDF)

Last week, reader Daniel F. sent us a copy of a SF Planning Department public notice (PDF) that is posted near the vacant lot on the corner of Balboa Avenue and 36th Avenue.

The notice is for a new mixed-use development designed by Shatara Architecture that will include 6 residential units and 3,900 square feet of commercial space on the building’s ground floor (tenant TBD).

The four-story building will include 9 parking spaces for residents in the basement, with the entrance to the garage on 36th Avenue. The building will also feature penthouse units, roof decks, and a 1,294 square foot rear yard which equates to 25% of the lot area.

The building will be 40 feet tall (4 stories) which is slightly taller than its neighbors – a 3 story building on Balboa, and a 2 story home on 36th Avenue.

We reached out to Shatara Architecture via phone and email to try and get some renderings to share with you, but we did not hear back from them (as in ancient times, city planner Aaron Starr tells us they only have paper versions on file and we’d have to show up in person to get copies…). The firm has experience with restaurant, commercial and residential projects.

UPDATE 7/25/13: We received renderings from Shatara Architecture – view the PDF

The permit for the project was filed back in 2008. Once the public notice period has expired on July 25, and assuming no requests or discretionary reviews are filed, the project will be approved by the Planning Department. No word yet on when construction would begin.

Sarah B.


The currently vacant lot at Balboa & 36th Avenue. Photo by Daniel F.

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 5:20 am | Posted under Real Estate | 26 comments
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