San Francisco is changing. Gentrification is pushing residents out, and taking the City’s culture with it. Stores with piñata hanging in the doorway, and the ringing of the paleteros‘ bells are being replaced with long lines waiting for pricey food, people jogging up and down the streets, and overheard conversations about tech.
Although Latinos in San Francisco still make up about 15.1% of the total population, scores of our people are leaving SF. TheMission, which has been known as the Latino district of San Francisco since the 1950s, is seeing a rash of Latinx store and restaurant closures, and a quickly and constantly changing landscape. The first wave of gentrification came in the late 1990s, with the dotcom boom. Approximately 925 households were evicted in The Mission, between 1990 and 1999. Local businesses were pushed out for live/work spaces in former factory/warehouse spaces in the South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Everything became more expensive as a result. The dotcom bust in 2001 seemed to slow things down.
But now we have the tech/startup influx. Companies like Twitter, Lyft, Uber, Dropbox, Airbnb, Pinterest, Salesforce, and Instacart are calling San Francisco home. As a result, the average rent in SF is now $3,442. As a result, California has the highest poverty rate in the nation. And as a result, 46% of polled people from the Bay Area want to leave within the next few years, because living comfortably is no longer an option. To highlight these changes, and pay homage to the Latinx businesses that shaped the culture of SF, here are nine Latino-owned businesses that we had to say goodbye to over the years.
Located on the corner of 24th and Alabama, in the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, La Victoria recently closed (October 9) after 67 years. The Mexican bakery and cafe, opened by Gabriel Maldonado, was a part of life for Latinos in the Mission District, and beyond. The closure was a result of the Maldonado family deciding to sell the building, but word is that the business is finding a way to stay under the new ownership.
Encantada Gallery of Fine Art
Encantada Gallery was a beautiful little shop on Valencia Street, which carried Mexican Folk Art, Dia de los Muertos-inspired products, clothing, art, and many Frida Kahlo-themed items. Owned and ran by Mia Galaviz de Gonzalez, the store opened in 1997, and had a gallery next door showcasing Chicano, Mexican, and Latino art and culture. Unfortunately, the gallery closed due to the economy, and the store shuttered its doors in 2013 because of eviction (what Mia called “urban deportation”).
Mexican restaurants are mainstays in San Francisco, especially in the Mission District. Opened by Carlos and Esperanza Barrios, La Rondalla was a Mexican restaurant and cantina that called The Mission home since 1951. It was also a known hangout for the Latino LGBT community in the 1960s and ’70s. The locale closed in 2016; in it’s place is a Mixt salad shop.
Discolandia was an iconic Latinx music store in The Mission, which opened its doors in 1982. It was owned and ran by Cubana Silvia Rodriguez, and located at 2962 24th Street (in the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District). The business closed in 2011, but the recognizable sign was preserved and repainted.
The Mission’s Esta Noche was the first, and only, Latino gay bar in San Francisco. It was located at 16th and Mission, and owned by Anthony Lopez and Manuel Quijano. The bar closed in 2014, after 33 years, due to hefty business fees, a.k.a. gentrification.
Corazon Juicebar opened on 22nd Street, in San Francisco’s Mission District, in 2012. The “Mexican-style juice bar” was ran by the mother and son duo of Socorro and Cesar Ramirez, serving juices, smoothies, raspados, escamochas, kombucha, and more. Corazon Juicebar closed in 2013.
La Santaneca is known as one of the best places in San Francisco to get pupusas. There was always two locations (although unrelated) of this Salvadorian restaurant on Mission Street. The Bernal Heights one was the perfect late-night, after-the-bar place to fill your face with ooey gooey cheesiness. It opened in 2005, and sadly closed its doors in 2017. Word is that it was because of the owner retiring.
OK Corral Western and Work Wear
One of the best things about San Francisco is that it’s a city with something for everyone—style, music, food, beliefs, etc. That uniqueness is in danger because it’s being wiped out. Take for example the OK Corral Western and Work Wear store. It was a place where you could get your full Wild West on with cowboy hats, cowboy boots, shirts, jeans, and more. The SF location opened in 1996, but closed 20 years later, due to a changing city. A Santa Rosa store also closed, but there is still a locale in Vacaville.