I recently noticed how many empty businesses there are on Kearny between Sacramento and Columbus. It got me thinking: there’s an opportunity to take those vacant storefronts and create an incredible microhood. It’d be snuggled between the Financial District, North Beach, and Chinatown, shadowed by the Transamerica Pyramid, adjacent to Portsmouth Square, and wedged into spaces surrounded by noodle shops, smutty video stores, and of course the House of Nanking.
What follows are seven businesses that I’d put in my fantasy microhood. And since I wanna name it before the realtors do, this stretch will now be officially known as Kearny Gulch. Polk shouldn’t have the monopoly on gulches in this town.
An Incredible Used Bookstore
While I’d really like to see any bookstore show up in this heavenly ‘hood of mine, it wouldn’t make sense to have a store selling new books with City Lights being just around the corner. So this one would be more along the lines of Dog Eared Books. It would have one extra special feature though; there would be a huge zine section curated by Aaron Cometbus that would would include a zine library. Yeah, it really would be that cool of a bookstore.
Dim Sum, Tapas, and Pintxos
I’ve always said that dim sum is the most evolved form of eating there is: the buffet comes to you! But I also wonder why it’s been limited to the world of Chinese food. Both Spanish tapas and Basque pintxos are similar to dim sum, where you’re encouraged to try many different small plates. So why not combine the two and have the best restaurant ever? It’ll be dim-style service with Chinese, Spanish, and Basque items to choose from. I totally just got a food boner.
A Kelly Malone Dream Space
Any microhood that I could fantasize about wouldn’t be complete without Kelly Malone of Workshop being part of it. Her dream space would be a slightly drunken, social community center that’s part DIY haven, part movie house, part art studios, and part bar. Also add in a wood shop, a kitchen with cooking classes, food pop ups, a full brewery, and an auditorium for talent shows, concerts, and punk rock proms. Amazing, right? If that doesn’t sound like the best place ever, you hate fun.
A Free Store
Yup, this is exactly what it sounds like, everything inside would be free. Did your mind just get blown, or what? How would this work? Instead of just taking the shit you don’t want and putting it on the curb, you’d take it down to the Free Store so other people who do want it can have it. Less waste for the landfills and a new home for your ugly snowman sweater. It’s like the Really Really Free Market, but without the chance of getting rained on. Consumerism, I think you’ve just been given the middle finger.
We’re San Franciscans, we love foreign people. It’s a chance to touch base with other cultures, practice languages we haven’t used since the 12th grade, and of course make out with someone who is somehow hotter because they have an accent. I spent a lot of time in my twenties living in hostels, so it’s a weird fringe lifestyle I know and love. This hostel would of course have a kick-ass bar to help facilitate the aforementioned accent-laden make-out sessions.
A Juke Joint
Normally my dream bar would be something where the clientele is a mixture of 80-year-old Beat poets and hot young things. But that exact bar exists and it’s called Specs’. So instead I’d put a juke joint in the neighborhood. There’d be live soul and blues music every night of the week and the jukebox would be loaded up with similar sounds. There’d also be a dude in the back with a smoker making kick-ass BBQ all day. Shit, I think I just described Red’s Joint in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Man, if only I could get T-Model Ford to come play on Kearny Gulch.
A Health Clinic
I told my friend Erika, who is in nursing school, about my dream microhood and she suggested the awesome idea of having a non-profit community health clinic that’s funded in part by the surrounding businesses. A little bit of the money you’d spend at all the bars, restaurants, shops, and other weird shit I made up in Kearny Gulch would go into helping the neighborhood. Then I could go find out why it burns when I pee.
Now that I’ve given out all my genius ideas for the best microhood ever, I bet someone’s gonna steal them. If you do, at least hook me up with free stuff from your place for life. Deal?
This story originally ran in The Bold Italic's Volume 2: What's Next? magazine, which is available for purchase here.