Ragazza’s back patio is at stake in a crucial hearing today — and the restaurant needs your help to save it.
(But first, some backstory — bear with us.)
Before Ragazza came along, 311 Divisadero was occupied by an oft-renamed restaurant known as Metro Kathmandu/Le Metro Cafe/District 5/etc., which would regularly open up its back patio to diners for weekend brunch service.
The patio was a huge attraction. Dozens of reviewers on Yelp raved about it with such terms as “enchanting,” “amazing and scenic and romantic and rare,” “nice and quiet,” and an “unexpected oasis.” One diner even wrote, “[I]‘d like to get married on that patio.”
Apparently, though, the patio was illegal. Or rather, the restaurant(s) never got the proper permits for it.
In April 2010, Ragazza signed the lease on 311 Divisadero, and soon thereafter applied for a beer and wine license transfer. It was only then that they learned that the existing beer and wine license didn’t extend to the garden.
Though disappointed, they didn’t want to hold up Ragazza’s opening by filing for a new beer and wine license. So they opted to delay pursuing the garden for a few months while the restaurant got off the ground.
After Ragazza opened in September, they decided to revisit the garden issue, intending to extend the beer and wine license to the garden. And that’s when they got even more bad news — not only did the garden not have a permit for alcohol service, it didn’t have one for food service, either.
Rather than try to operate the patio illegally, Ragazza chose to go through the proper (and lengthy) permitting process. In early February, they sent a letter to neighbors explaining the restaurant’s goals for the space, and inviting them to an informal lunch to discuss the plans in greater detail. They also outlined steps they intended to take to mitigate neighbors’ concerns, including:
- Limiting the hours of outdoor service
- Prohibiting live, recorded, or amplified music
- Training staff to assist with noise abatement
- Posting signs to remind patrons to respect neighbors
- Removing any patron who didn’t respect the rules
Sounds reasonable, right?
Well, not according to a few neighbors who have submitted letters to the Planning Commission protesting the restaurant’s plans for the patio.
So, that brings us to today.
At 1:30pm, the Planning Commission will hold a hearing to decide the patio’s fate.
And that’s where you come in.
If you want to voice your support for (or opposition to) Ragazza’s plans, you need to send a quick email, by no later than 11am today, to Planning Department staff contact Sharon M. Young at Sharon.M.Young@sfgov.org.
We try not to do a ton of editorializing here at Haighteration, but as residents, pizza lovers, outdoor-dining enthusiasts, and fans of neighborhood progress in general, this one gets us a little riled up.
It seems to us that people relinquish their right to demand peace and quiet when they move onto (or adjacent to) Divisadero. Nobody moves to this area because it’s peaceful — it’s not. You move here because it’s vibrant and dynamic. Because there’s stuff to do. Because people are out and about. Because the bars are great. Because new restaurants keep opening up. Because there’s life.
We hope a few vocal individuals won’t be able to stand in the way of a garden that so many neighbors would enjoy — especially when Ragazza has explicitly committed to minimizing the garden’s impact on nearby residents. Ragazza is being a good neighbor in this situation — can the folks who are protesting its plans say the same?
Look, that’s just our opinion, but as a blog that shamelessly advocates for the advancement of the neighborhood, we felt we had to speak up. We’ll be sending an email this morning in support of Ragazza’s plans, and we heartily suggest you do the same. Public input really does have an impact in these cases, folks, so every last email counts.
And if Ragazza gets approval, we’ll look forward to sharing a very quiet, very civilized celebratory pizza with you on their back patio some time soon.