In the past couple of years Noe Valley’s commercial strip, 24th Street from Diamond to Church, has undergone some big changes. A new grocery store, restaurant, boutique and bank all opened attracting lookey-loos from all over town. During the same two year period, quite a few long time businesses shut their doors for a variety of reasons – everything from death to lease loss.
The changes along 24th Street speak to the ever changing landscape of any business community. Businesses respond to ebb and flow of market forces and one day your favorite little boutique with those cute pillows is having a sale and the next day the window is covered in butcher paper and the sign is gone.
One that I hated to see go was the Real Estate office near Castro that had been there for seventy years. After it closed, someone told me the little man who owned it once had a horse that won the Triple Crown or the Kentucky Derby or something. You remember the place — its window was filled with pictures and ads commemorating a Noe Valley that was more conservative and less diverse than today. It was a time capsule and slice of the economic and ethnic reality of a mid-century working class neighborhood. I could just imagine him as a kid going with his dad to Herbs Fine Foods – now gone too – for a tuna melt and malt on a Saturday afternoon.
Even though a few of the store fronts along 24th street could benefit from a “pop-up” business many of the previously vacant spaces are now filling up. We’ve got three new restaurants (Toast, Paxti’s – a pizza place -opens in a few weeks and the Little Chihuahua (Mexican) opened a few months ago), a new clothing boutique Sway – whose hats are too cute and funky – and a couple of financial services businesses (a new bank and real estate office). Not to mention the workout studio down by Church street and the Whole Foods which not only satisfies the need for a grocery store but the neighborhood’s craving for all things organic and healthy.
While I will miss some of my old favorites, the new kids on the block are all contributing to making Noe Valley’s commercial corridor a destination and one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods.