Richmond District's Balboa Theater, House of Bagels awarded legacy business status

Photos: Nikki Collister/Hoodline
By Nikki Collister - Published on October 31, 2018.

The glowing marquee of the Balboa Theater and the community-centric mural that fronts House of Bagels are familiar sights to Richmond District residents. Now, in addition to their iconic storefronts, the two institutions have something else in common: legacy business status with the city.

Last week, the San Francisco Office of Small Business announced that the Balboa and House of Bagels, along with Fireside Camera in the Marina, are the latest additions to the city's Legacy Business Registry, which recognizes businesses 30 years or older "that have made a significant impact on the history or culture of their neighborhood."

House of Bagels, known for its colorfully painted façade and famous New York-style bagels, first opened its doors at Geary and 2nd Avenue in 1962, before moving to its current location at 5030 Geary Blvd.

"For a long time, this was literally the only place you could get a bagel in San Francisco," owner Mike Puente told Hoodline.

Puente's father worked as a baker at House of Bagels for four decades before buying the store from its original owner in the mid-2000s. Since then, the family has kept the tradition alive, using the same Brooklyn-based bagel recipe the bakery began with.

The bakery has expanded its options over the years to include sandwiches, artisan breads, and a variety of pastries (including the famous "cragel," a bagel-croissant hybrid).

Puente called the legacy business award a "sweet distinction," noting that House of Bagels has "always felt that we were part of the fabric of the city, especially the Richmond. We've heard stories from people who tell us they remember coming here as a kid, or that the first bagel they ever ate was from House of Bagels."

House of Bagels recently announced it would be introducing a second location near Union Square, at 325 Mason St. (at O'Farrell St.) The new location is expected to open by the end of the week.

Photo: House of Bagels/FACEBOOK

As one of the few historic neighborhood theaters remaining in San Francisco, the Balboa Theater (3630 Balboa St.) has been serving the Richmond District since 1926.

Over the past nine decades, the theater has seen its share of close calls, surviving a 1978 fire as well as the boom in multiplex theaters that caused so many of its contemporaries to close.

Last year, the Balboa's operators made the decision to cut back on programming, citing financial difficulties. However, the theater continues to offer weekly series like animation-focused "AniMonday Presents" and '90s VHS throwback night "Rewind Wednesday," in addition to regular screenings of new and classic films.

Adam Bergeron has owned and operated the Balboa as part of CinemaSF (a group that also runs Laurel Heights' historic Vogue Theater) since 2011. In an email to Hoodline, he said it was “truly an honor” to be placed on the Legacy Business Registry.

“In a city that is rapidly moving into the future, it seems important to make sure we keep our connection to the past," said Bergeron. "The Balboa Theater is unique in that the setting is from another time, but the programming and the events are very now. Here's to 92 more years!”

The two Richmond District businesses were nominated by District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer. 

In a video statement posted on Facebook, Fewer congratulated the business owners, and appealed to the public to patronize them. "We hope that you will shop at their stores and support small businesses in the Richmond and in the Marina," she said.

151 businesses have been added to the Legacy Business Registry since it was introduced in August 2016. Richmond District mainstays Pacific Cafe and Toy Boat Dessert Cafe were among the first to receive the distinction.

Since then, several other neighborhood favorites have been added to the list: Green Apple Books and Hamburger Haven in 2016, Joe’s Ice Cream and Cinderella Bakery & Cafe in 2017, and The Plough and Stars earlier this year.

A complete list of legacy businesses can be found on the San Francisco Office of Small Business website.

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