‘Pacific Nights’ at the Lion Pub

A stained glass window at the Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero.

A stained glass window at the Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero.

LONGTIME LOCAL business owner Kelly Ellis has died after a long illness and his Lion Pub at 2062 Divisadero is now closed after 48 years.

The Lion Pub holds a storied place in the city’s gay history, tucked discreetly off the beaten path in a jungle of greenery at Divisadero and Sacramento. More recently, it catered to a mixed neighborhood clientele.

In a 2015 bar column headlined “Pacific Nights,” the Bay Area Reporter recalled the Lion Pub as one of three gay bars in the neighborhood. In the 1980s, it was “the domain of that now rare commodity known as the sweater queen.” But after the onset of AIDS, “The decline of the gayborhood in Pacific Heights and environs was remarkably swift.”


MORE: “Pacific Nights: The Lion Pub and other lost gay dens

From Blue Bottle, prolonged silence


NEARLY TWO YEARS ago, the firm announced: “Blue Bottle Coffee is excited to be pursuing a new cafe located at Jackson and Fillmore Streets.” Since then, nada. A PR rep says only what she has said for months: “I will be in touch as soon as I have more details.”

Confirmation, of a sort, that Blue Bottle still intends to open on Fillmore came in mid-September when the windows were papered with a Blue Bottle logo and a quote from writer Yukio Mishima before his ritual suicide: “When silence is prolonged over a certain period of time it takes on additional meaning.”

Waiting for coffee


Flowers for the Fillmore-Jackson coffee shop when it closed in 2014.


Funny how habits form. They revolve around responsibilities and chores, but also the small pleasures that brighten our daily routines.

I have been working for several years at a beautiful flower shop in the neighborhood. In addition to spending time with a great team of co-workers and the lovely flowers every season and every day, it includes a relatively pleasant bus trip over from my Russian Hill apartment.

Florists start early, so it’s usually the coldest part of the day, and in the winter it’s dark. Very dark. But at the corner of Fillmore and Jackson was the welcome light of the coffee shop and the aroma of ground beans and steamed milk — and those friendly baristas who knew exactly what I wanted and just how I wanted it.

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Cocktails with artistic flair

Design by Michael Schwab


Eternally preppy saloon impresario Perry Butler’s landmark joint at 1944 Union Street is a museum of all things newsworthy in San Francisco for the last 47 years, with nary a square inch of empty wall space. But he’s long felt something was missing. “I’ve always wanted a poster,” he says, “A simple, clean, classic illustration of our signature cocktail.”

Perhaps Butler was listening to his inner adman. After all, his dad was a Madison Avenue heavyweight whose newly minted Dartmouth grad son had a brief fling in the hard-drinking agency world of the 1960s. He didn’t like it.

Two years ago, Butler approached San Anselmo graphic designer Michael Schwab, possibly the Bay Area’s most prolific and passionate poster artist. Schwab turned him down, saying he was too busy. Schwab’s style — strong, simple, retro images in warm, bold colors reminiscent of the ’20s and ’30s — makes even Alcatraz look inviting. The Golden Gate National Park Conservancy, which runs The Rock, has enlisted Schwab to produce a series of posters capturing the various places in the national park the conservancy oversees.

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There’s a new Sherith in town

New cantor David Frommer and new senior rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf.

New cantor David Frommer and new senior rabbi Jessica Zimmerman Graf.


I grew up in this neighborhood. I used to go to Gino’s grocery store at Fillmore and Jackson after school to get gummy worms in the ’80s when they were all the rage. I’ve walked around this neighborhood for years — decades, in fact. And now, I’m delighted to be back here in a new capacity.

Last month, a new clergy team was installed at Congregation Sherith Israel, at the corner of California and Webster Streets. Friends and congregants gathered for a Sabbath service on September 16, followed by festivities and food that honored the different cultures of San Francisco. About 600 people participated.

Who would have thought, just shy of 30 years after I became bat mitzvah in this community, that I would stand in the same spot being installed as the 10th senior rabbi of Congregation Sherith Israel?

• I am the first senior rabbi who proudly hangs a Sunday School diploma on the wall.

• I am the first senior rabbi who interned here as a rabbinical student.

• And I am the first senior rabbi to wear a dress for installation — at least as far as I know.

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Japantown fountains in limbo

One of Ruth Asawa's origami fountains in Japantown when the water flowed.

One of Ruth Asawa’s origami fountains in Japantown when the water flowed.


It’s hard to find people in Japantown these days who remember when the water stopped flowing and the once-lovely fountains on the Buchanan Street pedestrian mall became two interesting but somewhat curious sculptural objects.

This is not what widely beloved, internationally renowned San Francisco Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa had in mind when she created them four decades ago.

Yet it is not clear when — or whether — anything will be done to reclaim and restore the fountains.

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How Japanese was Cottage Row?

The 1930 U.S. Census shows Cottage Row occupied by Japanese-Americans.

SOME NEIGHBORHOOD CRITICS of a plan to create a memorial Zen rock garden on the Sutter Street side of Cottage Row have disputed historical sources that say Cottage Row was primarily occupied by Japanese-Americans before they were evacuated and interned during World War II.

The critics are wrong.

A review of census records and city directories shows that Cottage Row was almost exclusively occupied by residents of Japanese descent from 1920 until they were incarcerated in 1942.

The 1920 U.S. Census shows that five of the six cottages had residents with Japanese surnames. That was still the case when the 1930 census was taken.

The San Francisco Street Directory listings of Pacific Telephone Co. from 1933, 1936 and 1940 confirm the overwhelming Japanese presence on Cottage Row.

“The six cottages were almost exclusively Japanese,” said architectural historian Bridget Maley, who retrieved and reviewed the census records and city directories from the pre-war era.

“There are also lots of Japanese names in the adjacent blocks of Sutter, Webster and Bush,” Maley said.

EARLIER: “Cottage Row Zen garden sparks a fight

A cobbler departs

Ed Nahigian, longtime owner of SF Boot & Shoe Repair at 2448 Fillmore.

SAD NEWS from one of Fillmore’s few remaining old-school shops: SF Boot & Shoe Repair at 2448 Fillmore has closed after 34 years. Owner Ed Nahigian died early on September 27 while walking his dog in Alta Plaza Park.

EARLIER: “Still Standing


Throwback to a bohemian past

The Center SF is a sanctuary for artists and healers in the former Sacred Heart rectory.

The Center SF is a sanctuary for artists and healers in the former Sacred Heart rectory.


Visible from several points across the city, the former Sacred Heart parish at 548 Fillmore near Fell Street today provides another type of spiritual guidance.

Instead of bingo, signs promote the Church of 8 Wheels, a weekly roller-skating party and yoga classes. A membership gets you all the tea you can drink in the subterranean teahouse that will celebrate its one-year anniversary this month.

If the idea seems like a throwback to a bohemian past, that’s because it is.

In a real estate market that has become surreal, artists, healers and makers are seeking ways to continue living and working in the city. Tucked into the former parish rectory, The Center SF represents one option.

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Luxury condos boost late summer sales

VIDEO: Grand opening of The Pacific condos at 2121 Webster on September 15.


The period before Labor Day is typically a slow time for real estate. But this year was a lot busier, thanks to new condominium buildings that have been opening across San Francisco’s northern neighborhoods.

There were 32 condominium sales in Cow Hollow, Lower Pacific Heights, Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights between mid-August and mid-September — almost three times as many as the same period last year.

Three more units recently sold at the LuXe, a seven-story, 34-unit building at 1650 Broadway between Van Ness and Franklin. Two nearly 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom condos in the building sold on the last day of August, one for $2.1 million and the other for $2.5 million. Also that day, a three-bedroom penthouse in the building fetched $5.1 million.

The Pacific, another new building located just steps from the heart of upper Fillmore at 2121 Webster Street, saw two big ticket sales recently, with two three-bedroom units selling for $6.2 million and $9 million. One of the penthouses in The Pacific has also closed, with a selling price of $11.5 million.

EARLIER: For buyers with cash, condos promise cachet