As part of our “Heritage in the Neighborhoods: Haight-Ashbury” program, SF Heritage is running a legacy business voting contest from August 1-31, 2022 featuring nine candidates in the Haight-Ashbury, 30 years or older, that qualify for San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry program. The purpose is to raise awareness for this city-run preservation program and for the businesses in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood that have made long-standing contributions to San Francisco’s historical and cultural identity. While recent news of Club Deluxe’s (one of the candidates in our voting contest) imminent closure signals that this business requires more immediate assistance beyond joining the Legacy Business program, promoting the contribution of legacy businesses in conjunction with direct advocacy with all parties involved can and has made a difference in the past. SF Heritage has reached out to Supervisor Preston’s office, the SF Office of Small Business, and the owners to offer assistance to Club Deluxe. As part of our month-long campaign, we will continue to share stories of Haight’s legacy business candidates and hope that each will consider joining the Registry regardless of our contest’s voting results.
In the early 1960s Mendels was run by Mendel and Sarah Herscowitz as a store that sold house paint and linoleum flooring on Haight Street near Masonic. According to the business’s website, rents by the middle of the decade were soaring and their landlord was going to increase the rent, so the pair found a property just a block away that was for sale. In 1968, the business moved into its current location at 1556 Haight Street selling art supplies and house paint (the linoleum had been eliminated because it was heavy and with the hoards flocking the the Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, Mendels customers had a hard time getting their vehicle close enough to the store to load up their flooring). 1556 Haight includes a mezzanine, which Sarah thought would be the perfect area to add sewing notions into the store’s inventory.
Mendel and Sarah had three children: Bette, Louise and Maury. Bette was the only one actively involved in the business and, in 1978, officially took the business over from her parents. Louise’s three children, Naomi, Emily and Darrell, would travel across the Golden Gate Bridge to spend the weekend with their grandparents from time to time and went to the store to “help out.” In 1991, after graduating from high school and spending a year abroad, Naomi started working at the store with her aunt Bette.
We are proud to have been serving and supporting the neighborhood for over 50 years and appreciate our devoted customer baseNaomi Silverman
In October of 2013, Bette passed away. Since then, Naomi has been carrying on the family legacy as Mendels’ current owner.
“We are a 3rd generation family business that has been a destination for creative folks in San Francisco since 1968,” Naomi shared with SF Heritage. “It is not uncommon for our customers to comment that they have been coming to Mendels since they were a kid and they now have their kids in tow. We are proud to have been serving and supporting the neighborhood for over 50 years and appreciate our devoted customer base.”
John Murio, pro tennis player and winner of the 1933 Canadian Open, opened up this dark Haight Street oasis back in 1959. Prior to opening the bar, he operated “Murio’s Sport’s Shop” in the space for many years, and lived upstairs at 1807 Haight Street. Murio passed away in 1986 at the age of 84.
While the space received a refresh in 2011, the owners retained many of Murio’s original elements, like the bar top, the pool table, exterior neon sign, and recovered barstools. John Murio’s tennis trophies also remain as a nod to the original owners’ sports victories (hence the bar’s name), as does the vintage jukebox well-stocked with punk, metal, classic country & crooners, and misc. alternative songs.