Nine months after voters passed Prop J, the city has conferred the special laurel of Legacy Business onto nine classic San Francisco joints.
A Legacy Business is any locally owned commercial outfit that’s been open for at least 30 years (younger businesses can sometimes squeeze in under the bar, though), garners a nomination from the mayor or Board of Supervisors, and gets final approval from the Small Business Commission.
The freshman class has nine members:
Two Jack’s Nik’s Place: The comfort food restaurant on Haight that’s been slinging seafood since 1977, festooned with vintage posters of the likes of Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X.
Toy Boat Dessert Café: The Richmond’s old familiar ice cream shop since 1982. Brooklyn-born owner Jesse Fink made headlines in 2007 by kicking Starbucks off of the block.
Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Café: North Beach’s "no bullshit bar," where the bartenders are unionized. Owner Richard Simmons goes by "Specs," possibly because that’s easier to fit on his already wordy sign.
Precita Eyes Muralists Association: Non-profits as well as retail outfits can qualify. Precita Eyes has been painting and repainting the Mission since 1977.
Pacific Café: The seafood place on Geary with the longstanding (and rhyming) policy that says "If you stand in line, you get a free glass of wine." No wonder it’s been open since 1974.
Lone Star Saloon: One of SoMa’s longest serving gay bars has fallen on harder times lately, as Internet hook-ups and social progress diminishes the necessity of the old San Francisco neighborhood gay bar scene.
Gilman’s Kitchens and Baths: Opened as a hardware store in 1954 but went into the kitchen and bathroom design business in the ‘90s. Their work pops up in house ads all over town.
Community Boards: Another non-profit, billing itself as the oldest mediator and negotiator firm in the country after turning 40 this year.
Macchiarini Creative Design & Metalworks: Elder statesmen of the group, this metalworking artisan’s shop sat on Grant for 60 years.
Initially, the Legacy Business title is just a gold star. But because voters approved it, registered Legacy Businesses can also theoretically benefit from the city’s Historic Preservation Fund.
If a landlord agrees to give his or her resident Legacy Business a ten year lease with no rent hikes, the city will award grants to both landlord and business.
While almost everyone wants to keep longtime small businesses doing their small business, not everyone is a fan of the fund. Because politicians handle the nominations and approval, critics allege that it’s a tool for elected officials to play favorites.
But voters approved the idea by nearly 57 percent, so apparently the fear of losing the Roxie outweighed the fear that political bosses might abuse the system.
- Legacy Business [City of SF]
- Legacy Business Law Text [City of SF]
- Is Prop J a Slush Fund? [Chronicle]
- Prop J, 2015 [Ballotpedia]