Small businesses honored
by Assemblyman Phil Ting
Since 2013, California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared the month of May as California Small Business Month to recognize how important our state’s nearly four million small businesses are to our local economies and neighborhood character.
In San Francisco, we celebrated our Small Business Week from May 14 to 19. To kick off the week, I honored two staple businesses of the Richmond at a community Town Hall I held in the neighborhood.
La Promenade Café opened in 2013, but the building it occupies on Balboa Street, between 37th and 38th avenues, has housed a cafe for nearly four decades. Our neighborhood cafes serve as meeting places, building the relationships that make our communities stronger. La Promenade is no exception; as one of San Francisco’s largest coffee shops, it is a cultural anchor of the Outer Richmond, hosting musical performances, poetry readings and game nights.
La Promenade’s owner, Chet Thong, is community-minded and lends his space to nonprofits, such as the Richmond District Neighborhood Center, which holds its Balboa Village merchants meetings and annual Wine on the Westside event there.
Wine on the Westside benefits the Richmond District Food Security Network, a program connecting mobility-impaired seniors and volunteers to provide them with fresh groceries and meaningful interactions.
The second business I honored has been an anchor of the Inner Richmond for a half century. Green Apple Books bucks the trend of bookstore closures due to the rise of e-books. In fact, the owners open ed a second location on Ninth Avenue in the Inner Sunset in 2014.
In 1967, 25-year-old Richard Savoy, with little business experience but a deep love for the written word, used a credit union loan to lease a pre-1906 building on Clement Street near Sixth Avenue. Over the years, the store grew ten-fold from its original 750 square feet. However, many things haven’t changed, such as the lighting fixtures originally built to burn gas.
Green Apple, now owned by three long-time employees, was designated one of the Richmond’s first legacy businesses.
Under an ordinance passed by the SF Board of Supervisors in 2015, the Legacy Business Registry works to preserve long-time community-serving businesses.
In 2014, Green Apple was named Publishers Weekly’s “Bookstore of the Year.” The owners are active in the Clement Street Merchants’ Association, working to fend off unwanted formula retailers and spearheading a resurgence of the Inner Clement commercial corridor.
Additionally, it helped found the San Francisco Locally Owned Merchants Association and serve on the board of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association, as well as advising the Litquake and One City One Book programs.
The hard work of these entrepreneurs enriches our neighborhoods by providing quality goods and services and anchoring our commercial corridors. Be mindful to patronize your local small businesses; their success is our success.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District.