A location of Hamburger Mary’s, an SF-founded burger chain serviced by drag waitresses, is opening “any day now” at 531 Castro Street according to a source involved in the project. It’s hard to believe after an almost 20-year vacancy under notorious Castro landlord Les Natali and false opening date predictions that have strained credulity since 2014, but it finally appears to be so. The space, formerly The Patio Cafe, will come roaring back to life as soon as tonight with dinner for friends and family.
The original (long-since closed) Hamburger Mary’s opened in SoMa in 1972, and the concept has spread to 12 locations since, including Las Vegas, Florida, and West Hollywood. A manager from Mary’s WeHo is currently in San Francisco to assist with the opening, but the Castro location will operate independently, as do all Mary’s locations.
The Patio Cafe at 531 Castro, named for its spacious backyard area, opened in the 1960s and catered to a local gay clientele until it closed in 1999. The new restaurant on the premises was granted an entertainment license in the fall — expect drag shows — with hours until 1:30 a.m. and a skylight roof that can close over the patio area.
One obstacle to business for the new restaurant, however, could be local animosity toward the building’s landlord. As the owner of other neighborhood properties including the homes of Badlands and Toad Hall, Les Natali has gained a reputation as an obstructionist in a business area that’s suffered due to vacant storefronts. Some neighbors are vowing not to set foot in the new joint out of spite for Natali, who at last transferred an existing Type 47 liquor license to the eatery on March 1.