This month I have some good news and I have some bad news. Let’s get right to it. Here are some of the most important things that have happened (or not happened) recently in North Beach.
MAMA’S PIAZZA MARKET MAYBE
Almost three years after signing a contingent lease, Mama’s Piazza Market, Columbus and Vallejo, may open in July. Vince Sanchez, project manager for the Sanchez family that operates the incredibly successful Mama’s on Washington Square, is keeping his fingers crossed. The new operation, if it gets going, will combine an outpost of Mama’s restaurant with a market selling fresh produce, fish, meat, and other grocery products. The project still needs approval by the City Planning Commission and a vote by the Board of Supervisors amending the North Beach zoning law to comply with the frequently arcane ideas for the neighborhood dictated by the Telegraph Hill Dwellers who have a lot of juice with City Hall.
EULOGY FOR CAPP’S CORNER
North Beach is a conceptual art form posing as a neighborhood. It shouldn’t be tampered with. But here’s the bad news: Capp’s Corner, the iconic saloon and restaurant at Green and Powell Streets, has announced it is closing. Opened by Joe Caporale in 1960, the loss of Capp’s Corner will diminish the neighborhood. What happened? Lease problems — unreasonable demands by the landlord’s attorney. Tom and Maureen Ginella, who have been the proprietors of the classic North Beach joint since 1985, report they will be forced to close March 30. When word got out that Capp’s Corner was endangered, the Ginellas received hundreds of letters, e-mails, and telephone calls from loyal customers and concerned citizens — including Governor Jerry Brown who had lunch there once a month with his 1955 classmates at St. Ignatius. Unless the good saint intercedes with a miracle, Capp’s Corner is lost. St. Ignatius is the patron of spiritual retreats. And that’s what Capp’s Corner is — a spiritual retreat. So if you have any juice with St. Ignatius, now is the time to use it.
NEW DISTRICT 3 SUPERVISOR
The appointment of Julie Christensen as San Francisco supervisor for District 3 is good news. Mayor Ed Lee did a fine job selecting her to succeed David Chiu when Chiu went to the State Assembly. I’m betting she will get things done in North Beach — a hard place to get things done. But already wannabe supes are lining up to run against her in November, including a termed-out unelectable. Competition is fine, but the last thing we need in District 3 is another out-of-work, professional politician stirring up mischief in a desperate search for relevance.
A NEW FOCUS FOR LIVE WORMS
Two of my North Beach cultural heroes are joining forces and the results promise to be greater
than the sum of their parts — their heretofore individually operated galleries. John Perino, photographer and memorabilia purveyor, and
his Focus Gal-lery at 1534 Grant Avenue is closing end of the month. Perino will join painter Kevin Brown in his
Live Worms Gallery down the street at 1345 Grant. Perino will continue to shoot photos. Brown will continue to paint and the pair will mount exhibits of local artists as well as their own work.
PRIMO ANGELI RETURNS
Primo is primo! Italian-American, man-about-North-Beach Primo Angeli, has an international reputation in the graphic arts. His poster and advertising design work is in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art; the Smithsonian Institution; San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art and the Palace of the Legion of Honor; Centre Pompidou Paris, and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Of course, you’ve seen his 50th Anniversary Golden Gate Bridge poster and some he did for the Olympic Games.
And the next time you’re in North Beach, check in at Molinari’s Delicatessen and take a look at the salami labels — pure Primo. You may want him to autograph your salami.
Now, here’s a chance to see a retrospective of his work. It’s at the Museo Italo Americano in Fort Mason through April 19. Primo Angeli is the Toulouse Lautrec of today’s poster world.
COLUMBUS CUTLERY CLOSING? I GOT IT WRONG
In my March column “Sketches from a North Beach Journal” I wrote that Columbus Cutlery, 358 Columbus Avenue in North Beach, was closing. It is not. A family illness forced a changing of it business hours. But it remains open. Sometimes you just get things wrong. This was one of those times. Sorry! EB