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Heritage 50: San Francisco’s Legacy Businesses

Threats to local institutions underscored the need to develop new strategies for protecting places with intangible cultural significance. “Legacy Bars and Restaurants,” Heritage’s a groundbreaking initiative from 2013 that invited users to experience the history of some of San Francisco’s most legendary eateries, watering holes, dives and haunts, was the first step in documenting the city’s vast commercial heritage and promoting businesses that did not necessarily qualify for formal historic designation. This program directly inspired the creation of the city’s now existing Legacy Business Registry program, administered by the Office of Small Business.

Recently, Heritage engaged filmmaker and native San Franciscan Joey Yee to create a special video segment on legacy businesses for our 2021 Soirée. Joey’s now popular videos “cut through the fog” to cover his favorite San Francisco things – big trees, bridges, city landmark show-downs, you name it. Here, Joey visits some of the city’s most beloved legacy spots — from Buena Vista Cafe to Green Apple Books and Beep’s Burgers — and shares Heritage’s history of advocating and protecting these special places.

Legacy businesses, like all small businesses in the city, have suffered greatly from the pandemic. While we continue to advocate and lobby for prioritization of aid and relief to these institutions holding the city’s intangible heritage, we encourage everyone to patronize them as the city recovers.

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