San Francisco’s Small Business Commission has added a new class of very old restaurants and food businesses to its Legacy Business Registry, conferring great honor and some more tangible economic benefits upon them. The newcomers include quaint Noe Valley breakfast spot Chloe’s Café, pre-opera staple Hayes Street Grill, and historic Marina restaurant and bar Balboa Cafe. Other new additions include small grocery stores: Marina Supermarket and Haight and Fillmore Whole Foods (not the chain, of course, but the family-run market).
SF voters approved the Legacy Business Historic Preservation fund in November 2015, establishing a way to support registered legacy businesses nominated by SF supervisors. The legislation followed a 2014 study from the City’s Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office that showed the closure of small businesses in San Francisco had reached record heights.
Legacy businesses — there are now 142 in total — are eligible for city funds of $500 per employee. In the case of business that don’t own their own space, property owners are given a $4.50 per square foot grant for extending leases on Legacy Business tenants for 10 or more years. Funds are capped at $50,000 per Legacy Business and $22,500 for building owners.
Over the at least 30 years (with some exceptions granted) that legacy businesses must operate to qualify for the program, entire areas of the city have changed. It’s a different San Francisco than it was in 1913, when Balboa Cafe opened, for example.
Patricia Unterman and Richard Sander, owners of Hayes Street Grill, have witness such transformations firsthand. Forty years ago, “Who would have guessed that Hayes Valley would become one of the most happening neighborhoods in the city?” Unterman says. The long game pays off.