The folks over at the B.A.R. are reporting that the long closed, once Castro epicenter of food and gab, The Patio Restaurant (531 Castro St.), may at last be reopening by late summer.
The owner, Les Natali, 'temporarily' closed the Patio in 1999 for a series of remodeling jobs-and in 2002-after all was said and done shut the doors completely. He bought Gay bar and neighborhood institution, Badlands and dedicated a large amount of time and money remodeling that enterprise while the Patio mouldered unused.
The reason behind the Patio's long closure has never been 100% clear. The vacant retail space has lain like an open, empty, wound on the Village's main drag irritating business leaders, neighbors and Castro citizens for more than a decade. Many have complained Mr. Natali doesn't care about the Castro at all and refuse to buy his explanations for the long delay in reopening.
The restaurant was fully remodeled in 2007. Many felt this completed work signaled an indication that Mr. Natali had found the right company to come in and run a restaurant out of the space since he'd made no bones about being interested in doing that task himself. Sadly that never came to fruition and in the nearly six years since the space has been used sporadically for community events like a fundraiser or most recently the after party local for the new Nitey Awards that were held at Castro Theatre last week.
Mr. Natali's adjacent empty retail space and adjoining flat to The Patio property was also the target of a protest and occupation by homeless advocates who took it over in October of 2012 as part of an action around World Homeless Day. Activists used the long empty space as an example demanding such disused property throughout the City be turned over to the homeless so they'd have somewhere to live.
Mr. Natali seems to have everyone on his side to reopen the Patio. Dist. 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener has made it one of his top priorities and he also enjoys the full support of the neighborhood business association, Merchants of Upper Market Castro (MUMC), where he is already a member.
The Patio once kept nearly fifty people employed, supplied the City with a great source of tax revenue and served the community as both a destination and event space. The Castro could use that right about now with nearly 24 empty retail spaces lying fallow and more on the way from all the mixed use new build going on.
As the Patio's paperwork winds it way from bureaucratic desk to bureaucratic desk through the puzzle that is the City's permit maze all businesses face The Biscuit keeps our fingers crossed that this time The Patio actually is resurrected.