North Beach Journal

No such thing as a free lunch for your columnist, and other neighborhood updates

Joe’s of Westlake is open for business. photo: joe’s of westlake / facebook


Gentleman haberdasher Wilkes Bashford missed my deadline last month. He died just after I turned in my February column. I counted Wilkes a friend, and patronized his store downtown on Sutter Street whenever I could put together a few bucks for a down payment.

I once bought a white linen Brioni suit from Wilkes Bashford. It was a beauty — single breasted jacket with a vest and tight pants. I wore it on a trip to Hong Kong where I looked like a skinny Sydney Greenstreet with yellow armpits.


I would like to get this straight: Because I write frequently about restaurants in this column, I get questions about whether I get free meals in North Beach. The answer is no. I do not. Once in a while a restaurant will buy me a glass of wine or maybe a Bloody Mary. As you can imagine, I usually write about places I like. Not unusual! And the fastest way to not have me write about a restaurant is for the owner to keep hitting on me about it.

As you may have noticed, I do sometimes write about Little City Market where my butcher Ron Spinali holds forth. Ron and I share recipes and occasionally food we have cooked. He gives me sausage once in a while — Ron is a helluva sausage maker. And when I prepare something I’m proud of, I like to share it with Ron and his son Michael. Things like short ribs or Bolognese sauce. I make a terrific spaghetti Bolognese. But no, I don’t get free meals because I write about a restaurant.


The Duggan family, proprietors of Original Joe’s in North Beach, has opened Joe’s of Westlake, which most of us shorten to Westlake Joe’s. More properly I should have said, “reopened” Joe’s of Westlake. A neighborhood landmark in Daly City since 1956, it was known for its Italian meatballs, garlic bread, and various red-sauce classics, as well as sturdy drinks for the drinking establishment. Westlake Joe’s fell into decline, and the Duggans took over and now, after considerable renovation, have opened it as a Joe’s-style jewel box.

Now this is where it gets esoteric: The original owner of Original Joe’s, when it was in the Tenderloin, was Tony Rodin. The Duggans became in charge through marriage, and ultimately conceived the now iconic Original Joe’s of North Beach. But way back when, Tony Rodin partnered with Bruno Scatena and opened Joe’s of Westlake. Got it? Now the circle is closed.

The friends and family party the Duggans held at the Daly City site a few weeks ago was a major event. Scores of Original Joe’s North Beach customers descended on the new namesake and whooped it up — including your columnist.


My friend Jesse Silva, whose day job is at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store and Cafe in North Beach, is a talented singer — half Rihanna and half Grace Slick.

Recently, I caught her at Bottom of the Hill, a club at the bottom (naturally) of Potrero Hill. She was singing with headliner Debbie Neigher, but Jesse deserves top of the bill herself. If you drop into Mario’s, Jesse can tell you where she’ll sing next. You will be doing yourself a favor.


Deirdre Black, bartender at BarNua, the Irish pub on Columbus Avenue, won first prize in a Heineken beer contest and was awarded an all-expenses paid trip to Amsterdam. But at this point she’s not going. The 40-percent tax she would have to pay is a killer. I would offer to pay it for her, but as a journalist I’ve taken a vow of poverty. If you’re interested in helping Deirdre, get in touch at BarNua in North Beach.


For some — as T.S. Eliot wrote — April is the cruelest month. For others April is notable because, as Marina Times readers know, it’s the month when we publish the annual Ernestos Best of North Beach Awards. Look for several new categories and several first-time winners this year. Wait for it.

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