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Business Briefs: SFMOMA ad campaign promotes gay Castro district

by Matthew S. Bajko

A San Francisco Museum of Modern Art bus shelter ad for<br>"See Them Both" is at 18th and Castro streets. Photo: Rick Gerharter
A San Francisco Museum of Modern Art bus shelter ad for
"See Them Both" is at 18th and Castro streets. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

Martin Puryear's sculpture "Untitled, 1990" is paired with a photo of a similarly posed sea lion at Pier 39. A tower of the Golden Gate Bridge is juxtaposed with Mark Rothko's "No. 14, 1968" as it utilizes the same rust orange color as the famous span.

And a rainbow flag banner across the street from the historic Castro Theatre in the city's gay district is teamed with the late gay artist Ellsworth Kelly's rainbow-hued "Spectrum I, 1953."

The mirror-like images are part of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's new advertising campaign called "See Them Both." Created by Sausalito-based advertising agency Division of Labor, the idea is to encourage tourists to visit the city's icons and neighborhoods as well as the renowned museum, which reopened last year with the unveiling of its massive expansion into a new building.

(Design firm Snøhetta modeled the expansion's facade after the city's infamous fog, which is also highlighted in one of the new ads for the campaign. There are 10 ads altogether.)

Despite SFMOMA's world-class art collection and popularity with locals, the museum discovered that it is often left out of "Top 10" lists describing the sites not to be missed during a visit to San Francisco. Rather than compete against popular tourist spots like Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, or the Castro, SFMOMA decided to wield the fondness for such locations to its advantage.

"We are using the Castro to promote the museum. We really liked the opportunity to pair up with San Francisco icons," explained Tracy Wada, SFMOMA's director of marketing and sales, to merchants in the neighborhood during their monthly meeting last week.

Added marketing consultant Kara Whittington , "The campaign's goal is to drive visitors to both destinations. They should go to both the Castro and SFMOMA."

Josh Denberg, creative director for Division of Labor, believes the approach is a unique one to be taken by a museum. His team did not find any other art institution promoting itself and locales in its hometown in its advertising when it researched the concept.

"The strategy to target travelers was something that SFMOMA had been toying with and working on, so that was their assignment to us. But creatively this was all our idea as far as what we should do once they had given us the strategic direction," Denberg said in an interview with the Bay Area Reporter. "The idea was to visually link these destinations to works of art so that people include the museum with visiting one of these destinations as well."

The Castro being a top destination for LGBT and straight tourists, the firm knew it wanted to include the gayborhood in the campaign. And with the visual connection between Kelly's artwork and the rainbow banners "so striking and so simple," Denberg said they knew right away it should be one of the ads.

"It is one of my personal favorites," said Denberg, who lived in the city for nearly 18 years but now lives in Marin County with his wife. "I think everybody else feels the same about it."

The ad campaign launched in late July and has since expanded throughout the city. It can be found on Muni buses, at bus shelters, on billboards, and at the baggage carousels at SFO. The ads are also geo-targeted, so they pop up when people are using their cellphones in the Castro for instance or when talking about visiting the city on social media.

Castro business leaders were thrilled to see the neighborhood included in the campaign.

"I think it is a great endeavor," said real estate agent Mark McHale, who serves on the board of the Castro Merchants business association. "I think it will be very helpful for the neighborhood."

Castro Merchants President Daniel Bergerac said he hopes the ads do drive more people into the neighborhood.

"What could be better? This is awesome," he said of the free publicity for the Castro. "Drawing people to the neighborhood is vitally important."


Lesbian-owned cafe chain expands to Oakland

The lesbian married couple behind a chain of cafes in San Francisco is opening its first location outside of the city. Paradise Park Cafe will open Thursday, August 17, at 6334 San Pablo Avenue in North Oakland near the border with Emeryville and Berkeley.

It is the fourth location for owners Rachel Herbert and Dana Oppenheim in their Park Cafe Group . The women situate their eateries near, and usually name them after, city parks, such as their Dolores Park Cafe across the street from San Francisco's Mission Dolores Park on the edge of the gay Castro district.

They also own another eatery in the vicinity of the Castro, the Duboce Park Cafe across from Duboce Park. Their third location, Precita Park Cafe , is named after, and across from, the oval green space found at the bottom of Bernal Heights.

While the Paradise Park Cafe is near a city-owned park, the Golden Gate Recreation Center, it is named after the surrounding neighborhood. The menu will feature salads, handcrafted sandwiches, house-made pastas, and rotating specials. There will also be a kid's menu as well as pastries from Oakland-owned Starter Bakery.

Like at their San Francisco locations, the Oakland cafe will also serve alcohol, including local craft beers and California wines, in addition to coffee from lesbian-owned Equator Coffee .

It will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and for brunch on weekends from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information visit


Couple looks to open South Bay gay bar

Boyfriends Brian Roby and Michael Wright are aiming to open a gay bar on the Peninsula by next summer. They have been scouting locations in Palo Alto, Redwood City, and Mountain View and started hosting Guerilla Gay Bar events in the area to drum up interest and support for their venture.

"A variety of them used to exist here â€" Redwood City had three different gay bars at one time â€" but now there are none," said Roby, 29, who grew up in Martinez in the East Bay. "There is nothing between San Jose and San Francisco, yet a lot of gay people live here."

Having spent the last decade working in restaurants and bars, Roby has long wanted to open his own establishment. Within a week of moving to East Palo Alto in January, he met Wright, 29, who works for Facebook and shared his dream of wanting to become a bar owner.

"You put the two of us together and it is such a wonderful partnership," said Roby, who is working as a server as the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park. "It blossomed into instead of us chatting about it into wanting it to become a reality and something we decided to move forward on."

Since going public with their plans via Facebook in early July, the couple has been meeting with local officials in the trio of cities as well as Santa Clara County. They also hosted a successful meet up last month at a straight bar in Redwood City that attracted nearly 80 people.

Their next Guerilla Gay Bar event will take place from 8 to 11 p.m. Saturday, September 23, at Molly Magees at 241 Castro Street in downtown Mountain View.

"One reason for going public before opening is we want to tailor the bar to what the community wants," explained Roby. "Instead of doing what we think they want, we want to adapt it to what people will be looking for in a gay bar on the Peninsula."

To stay up to date on the couple's plans for their bar, as well as other pop-up events, like their Facebook page at or send an email to to subscribe to the email list.


LA center acquires

The Los Angeles LGBT Center has acquired the domain name through a donation valued at $6.9 million. Under the terms of the deal, the southern California nonprofit is barred from selling the website for at least three years.

It must hold on to through 2020 in order for the previous owner, VS Media and its flagship live cam site, Flirt4Free, to be able to claim the tax deduction from donating it to the center. For now, the center plans to direct anyone landing on to its blog Vanguard, located at

The center recently hired L.A.-based journalist Greg Hernandez, who runs the blog Greg in Hollywood, as its new communications manager whose primary role is to create new content for the Vanguard blog. It will highlight the various work center staff and volunteers are doing with the local LGBT community.

Jim Key, the LGBT center's chief marketing officer, told the B.A.R. that center officials have yet to think about how to leverage the value of the site to support its operations or programs. The center recently broke ground on a $40 million affordable housing development for LGBT seniors, its second, that will include units for youth.

The 135 units of housing, as well as a 100-bed shelter for homeless youth, are set to open in 2019. Demand is expected to far exceed the capacity of the new Anita May Rosenstein Campus in Hollywood.

"It will be interesting to see what opportunities will be present three years from now, or what it may be valued at three years from now," said Key of the website domain. "We haven't begun to think about it." was originally founded in 1994 and its parent company bought the San Francisco-based PlanetOut in 2001. Eight years later Here Media Inc. bought the website, only to sell it in 2016 to VS Media Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

Rather than hold on to the site, the company decided to donate it to a nonprofit and requested proposals via its Charity Challenge. Five LGBT charities reportedly responded, with the L.A. center's plans for the site deemed the worthiest.

"The Los Angeles LGBT Center provides services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world," stated Flirt4Free Executive Vice President Brad Estes. "I'm very happy to announce that the future of will go on within their extraordinary organization."


Fillmore merchants to help LGBT center

For the second year in a row merchants in the city's Fillmore district are helping to raise money for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. The event is also a way to introduce LGBT shoppers to the neighborhood's retail offerings.

The annual Shop OUT Day takes place August 26 and will see 19 stores in the neighborhood donate 10 percent of all sales that Saturday to the LGBT center. Staff from the local nonprofit will also be on hand that day to explain what services and programs the center offers.

Participating stores include Alexis Bittar , Atelier Cologne , Eileen Fisher, Fitness SF, Gallery of Jewels, Gotherx , Hi Ho Silver, Invision Optometry, Jigsaw London, Jonathan Adler , Lilith, Margaret O'Leary, Renaissance Salon SF, Space NK , Spice Ace, Superga, Toujours Lingerie, Wine Jar , and Zinc Details .

"We want to support and highlight the great work that the center is doing for SF," stated Vas Kiniris , the executive director of the Fillmore Merchants Association who also owns Zinc Details.


Got a tip on LGBT business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or e-mail mailto:.


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