Three weeks after the devastating fire at Mission and 22nd that took the life of 38-year-old Mauricio Orellana and left 54 residents and dozens of businesses homeless, the building's former occupants are still trying to put the pieces back together. Among them is Wise Sons Deli, which had its commissary kitchen inside, and had been planning to launch a new line of bagels baked on-site that very week, complete with a small to-go window in a 100-square-foot space on 22nd Street. "It's been really hard. There are days when it's hard to stay motivated," says co-owner Evan Bloom of the restaurant's losses, which were originally reported by Inside Scoop the day after the fire. The subsequent water damage also devastated the company's central office in the building, destroying computers, files, and all of their equipment for their annual booth at Outside Lands.
The good news is that Bloom and partner Leo Beckerman are still on the path to bagel domination; they were able to recover their pricey new bagel machine from the building, though they don't know if it still works (it requires a special level of power to be plugged in). Unfortunately, they've now been forced into the challenging hunt for a new commissary kitchen, a rare commodity these days in SF with so many food businesses and startups attempting to find room in a tight real-estate market. Bloom says Wise Sons is hunting for a space between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet, preferably a former bakery in which they could have a large walk-in oven like their old Mission space's. Anyone with a lead on a suitable space, whether short- or long-term, is encouraged to reach out.
In the meantime, Bloom and Beckerman are going ahead with their pre-fire plan to open up Wise Sons' 24th Street location all day for five nights a week (Tuesday-Saturday, 8 am-9 pm), beginning this week. Wise Sons had previously only been open for dinner Thursday-Saturday and closed in the mid-afternoon, but Bloom says business was strong enough for the deli to go all-day. The menu has also been streamlined: dinner specials are offered, but diners can still order French toast, eggs, or pastrami sandwiches after sundown. (Bloom says he's "a breakfast-all-day kind of guy," and wants to offer that option, since few other Bay Area restaurants do.) They're also planning on opening up 24th Street on Mondays in a month or so.
As for bagel lovers, they can still expect an eventual Wise Sons bagel empire, albeit one that's been "pushed back by nine months to a year," says Bloom. They hope to eventually launch a number of bare-bones 100-to-200-square-foot kiosks around the city, serving up simple breakfasts of bagels baked in the commissary kitchen (with plenty of schmear and topping varieties) and coffee. Until they score a space, they're dividing up duties between their two locations to keep the commissary staff employed; 24th Street is handling smoking meats and sauces, while the Contemporary Jewish Museum location is baking challah and bialys in the evening. For now, rye bread is coming from an outside supplier. "It's hard, but a lot of people from the building have it even worse than we do," says Bloom, citing the displaced residents and other food businesses in the building that had insufficient insurance or none at all. [A new fundraising campaign has just been launched to support the latter group.] "We're working with our insurance company to find out what the fallout will be like, and our finances are a mess because we're still having everybody work...But the city's been great and offered lots of pro-bono help, and other people in the industry have been really great and supportive."