The atmosphere is changing along the Lower 24th Street corridor, where Latino-owned businesses are being replaced by those with non-Latino ownership.
Pig & Pie—an organic sausage restaurant that replaced the famous Discolandia record store where world musicians such as Tito Puente would visit to promote their music—has been in business for a little over two months, after the space was unoccupied for more than a year.
Owners Nate Overstreet and Miles Pickering decided to open the restaurant on 24th Street because “Pickering has lived in the Mission for years and loves it,” Overstreet said. “We always wanted to open a place on 24th Street because there is a lot of foot traffic.”
Pig & Pie has made an effort to preserve the neighborhood essence by keeping the old Discolandia sign outside, as well as framing a Tito Puente poster soon to be hung on their wall.
“We offer quality food at reasonable prices,” Overstreet said. “Everything we serve is organic, locally grown, and is made from scratch.”
Kate Rosenberger, the owner of Alley Cat Books, which has been in the neighborhood for just over a year, says she was simply in the right place at the right time.
“There is so much gratitude,” Rosenberger said, regarding the feedback from the local community on Alley Cat Books as a new addition to the neighborhood.
Rosenberger is not new to the neighborhood. She owns three other bookstores in the Mission District and has spent over 20 years enjoying her favorite neighborhood in the city.
“I didn’t have a vision for what the place should be when I opened,” Rosenberger said. “We have Spanish classes for our store workers.”
The store has a big backspace used for different purposes such as art exhibits, and small music shows in an effort to give back to the neighborhood.
“Latino-owned businesses make up 74 of the 133 businesses in Lower 24 Street [which is] roughly 55 percent,” said Eric Arguello, president of the Lower 24th Street Merchants and Neighbors Association.
Luz de Luna, moved from a small space on 25th Street to a bigger space at 24th and South Van-Ness streets a few months ago, after being approached by the association, which suggested that this type of store [Latino-owned] is what 24th Street needs.
“24th Street is changing; I think I came at the right time,” said Luz de Luna owner Denise Gonzales.
Luz de Luna sells everything from Jewelry and scarves, to Feng Shui luck charms and even wallets and other nick-knacks made by local artists.
“In one month I did much better than in the old shop,” Gonzales said. “In this shop you see different cultures because all of us live in this world, we have to be together.”
The change in atmosphere forces small Latino-owned businesses to adapt or close. Adapting means serving the neighborhood with the specific products that have been growing in demand.
Silver Stone Coffee has embraced this sort of adaptation.
“I think it’s great for the neighborhood,” said Karla Gutierrez, a barista at Silver Stone Coffee. Her father ran Carlos Bar in the same building for 30 years prior to the coffee shop.
“A lot of Latinos walk by at first, because we changed our name, but we’re still [the] same family owners,” Gutierrez said. “We have free wifi and a patio in the back, most people don’t know that.”
According to Arguello eight new coffee shops have appeared on Lower 24th Street just in the time since L’s Cafe opened its doors in 2005.
With the tech-savvy crowd moving into the neighborhood there’s a growing demand for businesses such as coffee shops; ironically, this changes the very cultural atmosphere, which drew them here in the first place.
Some business owners simply want a piece of the heavy foot traffic and don’t care much to preserve the neighborhood’s cultural essence.
One ice cream shop in the neighborhood refuses to participate in community-held events. “They just want to make their money and leave when business is closed,” Arguello said.