Credo: feeding body and discourse

May 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

Over 700 quotes line up the walls of Credo, an italian restaurant, which opened its doors in San Francisco’s Financial District last January with the intent to feed body and mind alike. As its name suggests, Credo, which comes from latin and means “I believe”, the restaurant wants its guest to encounter all beliefs, the good ones, the bad ones and the others. After all, beliefs are subjective.

But by encountering other beliefs than our owns, Credo hints that this mixing of ideas stimulates a healthy discourse.

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The concept is quite unusual, but highlights the strong set of beliefs of the owner, a former seminarian turned political consultant and real estate investor, Clint Reilly.

Credo’s mission aims at feeding both body and soul. These beliefs are at the core of this enterprise, from the decor, to the food served, and to the partnerships with local charity organizations.

Beliefs are expressed in many facets of the stylish restaurant. Dining tables, made of reclaimed wood from Amsterdam, illustrate the owner’s taste for craft and history. Repurposed wine bottle glasses set on the tables echo the values of reusing and smart producing.

Collected throughout the years by Reilly himself and his director of communication, the quotes featured throughout the restaurant “represent beliefs we share, and beliefs we don’t share. Some of them are absurd, some are silly and some very serious,” Mike Giffin, Credo’s manager said.

Monthly quote contests offer another means to engage dialogue with the community, to stimulate discourse and to raise awareness. “We believe in the time-honored tradition of the dinner table debate and the swirling mix of ideas that makes this country great,” explains the menu.

Going a step further in engaging the community is Credo’s charitable involvement. Once a month, Credo picks a local charity organization, and helps them get a voice and funding.

This month, Credo’s community partner is Clinic by the Bay, a locally-funded, volunteer-driven organization that provides “free primary and preventive healthcare to low-income, working uninsured adults living nearby the Excelsior, Portola and Daly City areas.”

Information about the organization is featured on the back of the menu, alongside articles about the issue at stake. A monthly newsletter is also sent to about a 1000 people. From social media for the tech savvy guests, to an easy donation line on the bill for the old-school patrons, to private fundraising events, Credo offers various ways to generate revenues for these organizations and publicize their cause.

A bird’s eye view of the Financial District

April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

A kind soul, with a journalistic spirit shared with me some photos taken from the top of the Transamerica Pyramid during a “young professionals mixer.”

If you ever wondered what the view looks from up there, then take a look.

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And here are 5 facts about the Transamerica Pyramid that might come in handy at your next cocktail party in the Financial District.

  • Designed by architect William Pereira
  • Built in 1972 (back then it was one of the 5 tallest buildings worldwide)
  • 850 Ft. high
  • 48 floors of office and retail space
  • And a penthouse where parties sometimes take place (invite me to the next one!)
Source: Wikipedia.
Photos Courtesy of Pedro Peter Brown

Friday Drumroll: Meet Andrew Byrne

April 24, 2011 § 2 Comments

Last Friday, as most people were leaving work, headed home for the weekend, Andrew Byrne made his way to the Financial District, set up his drums and started playing, hoping to get noticed.

Byrne settled on the corner of Market and Montgomery streets, right by the Montgomery Bart Station. A few people stopped to listen to the music. An inspired toddler dropped a dollar bill into the tip bag.

Apparently, Andrew is often playing in the downtown area, marketing himself and hoping to get some gigs. He can be reached at doublebass3@hotmail.com.

Love Spain? Love soccer?

April 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Then you’re probably watching the Classico game broadcast live.

If you’re a soccer aficionado & close to the Financial District this afternoon, stop by B44 on Belden Place. There you will find true soccer fans and mosty calalonians folks rooting for Barcelona, watching their two best national teams playing against each other while indulging on delicious authentic paella, cheese plates and wine.

The crowded Catalan bistro often broadcast soccer games, alongside other european restaurants on the little hidden pedestrian alley, which runs between Kearny and Montgomery Streets and Sutter and Pine Streets.

May the best team win!

On the Fly’s grand opening

April 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dozens of people were gathered this afternoon celebrating the grand opening of On The Fly‘s new store, an old-school gentleman boutique expanding to the second level of 1 Embarcadero Center.

The original space, directly underneath on the ground level is going to be custom heaven, taking tailoring to another level offering custom high-end shirt, cufflinks or chairs, while the new upper store features ready-to wear “solutions for the modern gentleman”.

I am due in next week for a tour of the new boutique… Stay tuned.

If you can’t wait for my in-depth report, go check it out, or find them on Facebook. The opening is going until 5 and featuring some single malt scotch tasting for the lucky ones or a shoe shine from A Shine & Co.

Escargot burger anyone?

March 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cheesburger, turkey burger, salmon burger, veggie burger, mushroom burger… Burgers of all sorts can be found within the numerous Financial District restaurants.

But escargot burger, really? Oui, oui, oui.

Intriguing, isn’t it?

Well, some friends and I ventured to Restaurant Ducroix, intrigued by the mention of escargot burger mentioned during our last visit to the restaurant last week.

So the idea behind the escargot burger came just like that, when a friend mentioned it to him, Remi Ducroix, the chef said.  The beef patty is cooked with minced escargots – or snails – in escargot butter, that is garlic, parsley, a pinch of salt, and – of course – butter. The key to this dish is really the garlic and parsley combination, as the snails don’t have much taste on their own, he explained.

But still, the result is quite tasty. The escargot burger is served on a toasted baguette, with melted cheese onto the patty and served along side the usual burger topping, salad leaf, tomato and some aioli. As we say in French, miam miam! And to go with the burger, we added a glass of Sancerre, a delicious dry French white wine.

The year-and-a-half-old restaurant, located on Sacramento Street between Montgomery and Kearny Streets is the Ducroix’s brothers’s family enterprise. Etienne and Remi, originally from Burgundy, were born into the restaurant business: their parents had an hotel-restaurant.

They are typically tending their dish in the open kitchen, putting attention into the meal they prepare, while a friendly French waitress attentively care for the patrons.

Restaurant Ducroix aims at bringing authentic French Cuisine to the table, but beyond that it brings in a bit of “Frenchness”to the Financial District, really making a visit to their restaurant a tasty treat for a reasonable price.

Bon appetit!

The Mechanics Institute Library: a Historical Gem

March 3, 2011 § Leave a comment

Mark Twain, Jack London and Frank Norris wrote from there and were members there. This place still exists. Wanna join?

On the edge of the Financial District, a 101 year-old landmark building hosts the oldest library on the West Coast and one of the oldest chess clubs in the U.S.

Photo Courtesy of Mechanics Institute Library - The Mechanics Institute Library sits directly across from the Crocker Galleria, on Post Street.

“It started off as a teaching institute, the city was young and needed builders, so we started teaching here,” said Library Director, Sharon Miller. Founded in 1854, after the Gold Rush, the Mechanics Institute offered technical education and vocational training for mechanics and promoted the local industry. The term of mechanics referred to the trade work of engineers, builders and manual laborers.

While today the institute is much more generalized, it remains an intellectual and cultural center with its library collection, events, classes, exhibits and historic chess room. The library houses about 160,000 books, periodicals and audio visuals. Ebooks were recently added and are successful with members. “We go from very old, where you can get a book that was last checked out in 1922, or you can pick up an ebook for your reader,” Miller said.

Computer and research classes, writers and book discussion groups, poetry or film nights are scheduled regularly. Every Friday at 5:30, in the Library’s café, library members can watch a movie shown as part of a monthly movie series, called Cinemalit. Movie nights are free to members and and $10 to non-members.

A non-profit organization, the library is membership-based. People do not need to be sponsored to become members. Anyone can become a member by paying membership dues. The Institute does not receive grants or funding like other libraries do. Its revenue comes from membership dues and donations, office space rental and endowment funds. Membership dues range from $35 for full-time students, to $95 for individuals and up to $1,600 for a lifetime membership. But they don’t get many of the lifetime members these days.

The latest monthly count totals 4,300 members, including 1,200 lifetime members who have been members for more than 30 years. Some members have been coming here their entire life, for two or three generations as their families were members before them, said Miller. And “sometimes their card doesn’t work anymore because it’s so old! And that is something we’re proud of,“ said membership coordinator Yvon Soares. But the demographics is fairly wide with “everyone from high-school age students who come here after school, to children and young adults who come in for chess camps,” said the head librarian.

Photo Courtesy of Mechanics Institute Library - At least half of the members work in the neighborhood and discover the library while walking past it, spotting the library sign hanging off the facade, steps away from the Montgomery Bart station.

But word-of-mouth is really the number one reason bringing new people in. And the Institute is taking more of a 21st century approach to advertising and its staff is working harder than ever to bring in younger people. The marketing department has created brochures as well as Twitter and Facebook accounts. And more people in their 20s and 30s come to study with their laptop on hand, taking advantage of the library resources in a lovely quiet space to study. “A lot of students come here because they need a quiet place to be, to write their dissertation. We’re really happy that we have younger members who also want to come by. Everybody really asks for that quiet place, a place where they can have refuge for a few hours,” Soares said.

The 101-year-old Beaux Arts style building hasn’t changed much from its inception. Its history can be felt in its great light-filled reading and study rooms. A beautiful spiral staircase with marble floor and an iron handrail connects the first four floors. Within the library, each floor has two balconies filled with bookshelves where one can get lost roaming around looking for a tiny stair to go the next level up or down, as if transported into another world, into another era as if times hadn’t passed.

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