Our 2012 Small Business Awards - Page 4

Honoring the local, independent entrepeneurs who make the city a better place to live, work, and play

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Kelly Malone of Workshop and Indie Mart, our 2012 Woman in Business
PHOTO BY MIRISSA NEFF

Cheryl Burr has no idea why her first bakery boss left her 16-year old self in charge of the pastries. "I would never have let a teenager do that at my business!" she chuckles. But really, the guy was showing prescience — Burr and business partner Chris Beerman, who originally shared space in a bakery-bento retail window in Potrero Hill, opened the doors of their Pinkie's Bakery (1196 Folsom, SF. 415-556-4900, www.pinkiesbakerysf.com) in SoMa nearly three years ago and have been tickling sweet teeth with their skills there ever since.

"I've always been a super-strong personality," Burr tells us, sitting in the sunny table area of Pinkie's. Though the Asian American breadsmith built a respectable career in high-class kitchens around the city, there came a moment when she wanted to be able to execute her own vision. "I've gotten to this point in my career where I didn't want to answer to anybody."

So she took control of her own trajectory, renting space in a commercial kitchen, starting her own hustle. Burr supplied pies to wholesale accounts, mainly friends of friends she'd met through her years in the restaurant business. Her commercial space is part of a culinary reinvigoration of the neighborhood around Seventh Street and Folsom. Pinkie's is a stone's throw from Bloodhound Bar, Sightglass Coffee, Radius restaurant, Terroir wine bar and more. "There is definitely a sense of community and partnership around here," says Burr, who will sometimes refer to the strip as "Folsoma."

Pinkie's is also a room away from Citizen's Band, Beerman and Burr's freshly-sourced diner. The same customers that come for Burr's famous levain bread and apple butter morning buns can now also order a dinner of poutine with wild mushroom gravy and crispy pork belly right next door.

"We want to continue to refine what we're doing here," Burr says when asked about her future business plans. Did that young woman on her first baking job envision the success of her own bread basket? She smiles. "I'm not entirely sure what I envisioned, but it's different." (Caitlin Donohue)

GOLDEN SURVIVOR AWARD

PHIL'S ELECTRIC

During World War II, Phil Sidari was commissioned to make artificial limbs for disabled US veterans returning home. The shortage of finished goods during wartime also prompted Sidari to begin constructing small appliances out of spare parts. Thus, 61 years ago, Phil's Electric (2701 Lombard, SF. 415-921-3776, www.philselectric.com) was born.

Sidari passed away at the ripe old age of 103, but his friends Vicki and Bob Evans took the reins in the 1970s when Phil decided to retire. Vicki says the store has gone through quite a few changes over the years, including a relocation 28 years ago from Fillmore Street to a quiet corner near the gates of the Presidio.

The shop is intimate, homey, and entirely a family affair. Bob and Vicki's sons Tom and Ken help their parents run the business and provide excellent customer service to their patrons. Phil's Electric specializes in the repair of vacuums and lamps but also sells coffee makers, blenders, vacuums, razors, and a host of other small electronic items.

Yet the rise of cheap, disposable electronics has made it difficult a business that's founded on, well, fixing things. "In the past, almost everything got repaired, but that's changing," says Vicki. "For example, you can buy a Cuisinart coffeemaker that, after its warranty, there are no parts for it. So you throw it out. Whereas, say 12 years ago, we would have had a part for that and fixed it for you."