Issue:  Vol. 47 / No. 49 / 7 December 2017
 

Plans by cafe rile neighbors

NEWS


m.bajko@ebar.com

The owner of Cafe Flore wants to extend the restaurant's hours. Photo: Bill Wilson
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A request by a Castro cafe to extend its hours and pump music to speakers in its outdoor seating area is raising concerns among its neighbors. The dispute prompted the gay neighborhood's merchants group to postpone voting on whether to support the cafe's proposal for at least a month.

Neighbors of Cafe Flore, which opened at the corner of Market and Noe streets in 1973, are worried about noise and parking issues if the eatery is granted permission to remain open until 2 a.m. seven nights a week. While not objecting outright to the business' plan for later hours, the neighbors are asking that a compromise be worked out between them and Cafe Flore owner J.D. Petras.

The Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association has asked Petras to work with it on brokering a deal and agree to a meeting to be overseen by District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty. A similar meeting between both sides occurred two years ago after Petras bought Cafe Flore and moved to extend his weekend hours and serve alcohol.

The agreement restricted Cafe Flore's hours to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and to midnight on weekends. Petras also received permission to stay open later on special weekends, such as during Pride and the Folsom Street Fair and while he set up a DJ booth inside the cafe, he could not broadcast the music in the outdoor patio area.

"Initially, we had asked to stay open 24 hours, four days a year. We have not used that," Petras told Merchants of Upper Market and Castro members at their April 6 meeting.

Now, Petras wants to stay open until 3 a.m. for occasional after-hours socials and fundraisers and to allow his DJs to play CDs on the house sound system, and eventually, place speakers on the outside patio. Until the San Francisco Entertainment Commission adopts a special "ambient" music speaker permit ordinance, which would ultimately need city voters or supervisors to sign off on, Petras and other outdoor cafe owners cannot play music outside.

Gary Virginia, hired by Petras as the cafe's events manager, said the changes are needed so that Cafe Flore can host fundraisers for local nonprofits and AIDS agencies. The Edge, a Castro bar, earlier this year decided to end hosting such events and Petras stepped in to offer his space. Virginia said 10 events have already been held there for various groups and the changes are not meant to turn Cafe Flore into a Castro bar.

"There are few places people who don't drink and people who do drink, and people who smoke and people who don't smoke, have to hang out together," said Virginia. "There really isn't another alternative to loud music like at the bars. Cafe Flore plays ambient music on Saturday nights. We want to book lounge DJs and different entertainers."

Dennis Richards, president of the Duboce neighborhood group and a Noe Street resident, said he is a frequent customer at Cafe Flore and admires its stepping in to raise funds for local groups. But he asked MUMC to defer taking a vote on the permit changes until both sides have a chance to meet.

"Two years ago Bevan hosted a negotiation meeting over the liquor license. This would be a change to that agreement. We have asked Bevan to host another meeting. I would ask that you defer to that process," Richards said. "The real issue is noise. How do we mitigate that?"

MUMC voted to postpone taking a vote on supporting the request from Cafe Flore, a MUMC member. Both sides are expected to meet with Dufty in early May.






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