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Off the Grid Proposes Temporary Use for Closed Upper Haight McDonald’s Lot

A food truck and shipping container park

Off the Grid

Off the Grid, the local organizers of popular food truck events at Fort Mason and elsewhere, will submit plans to the city for an interim use of empty parking lot space in the Upper Haight. Last year, the city purchased the problematic McDonald’s franchise at 730 Stanyan on the edge of Golden Gate Park, a site known as a haven for drug sales, with plans to eventually construct affordable housing there.

In the coming weeks, city officials will put out a call for proposals from operators like Off the Grid for temporary activations of the Stanyan lot in the interim period — likely years — before housing is built. The criteria are that the use “serves or employs low to moderate income persons, benefits the community as a whole, and is financially self-sufficient.”

For Off the Grid, the timing is just right: They’ve held one of their food truck marketplaces in the neighborhood, at the Waller and Stanyan skate park, for years. But to make room for a city public works project, they’ll have to discontinue it. Their final event is tonight, with live music and food trucks like Señor Sisig, Southern Comfort Kitchen, and the Chairman, a popular truck serving inventive bao.

“We’ve felt a strong connection to that neighborhood as long as Off the Grid has been around,” says Matt Cohen, Off the Grid’s founder and CEO. “It’s amazing that this space is right across from our original site.”

For the McDonald’s lot, Cohen envisions shipping container kitchens, space for food trucks, and several of the small mobile food prep pods, nicknamed Cubert, that Off the Grid has been developing. The site would also include a covered community courtyard with a daily beverage garden (Dave McLean, founder of Magnolia Brewing, would curate beer) plus pop-up retail spaces and a proposed flower nursery.

To fulfill the city’s criteria, the Off the Grid site promises to create 100 to 150 jobs and provide “senior services, youth education and activities, and food business incubating opportunities.” Cohen says he hopes the site would host events like movie screenings, craft fairs, and farmers markets.

Next, Off the Grid will seek feedback from community members and submit a formal proposal. Stay tuned for more on what becomes of the 730 Stanyan lot and Off the Grid’s idea for it.