Honoring the local, independent entrepeneurs who make the city a better place to live, work, and play
Phil's Electric also faces stiff competition from the Internet and larger stores. But it does have some advantages. "Internet companies are working out of a warehouse somewhere, so they don't really have any commitment to the neighborhood or the city or the community," Vicki says. And the unique thing about San Franciscans, according to Vicki, is our interest in supporting neighborhood businesses. "If we moved this to a suburban area, I don't know if we'd have that many loyal customers."
Vicki's favorite part about the business? The human aspect and her autonomy. "You can interact with your customers and really try to be flexible and meet people's needs." (Mia Sullivan)
SMALL BUSINESS ADVOCATE
CALIFORNIA MUSIC AND CULTURE ASSOCIATION
Two years ago, during the climax of the police and regulatory crackdown on San Francisco nightlife that we dubbed the "War of Fun," the California Music and Culture Association (www.cmacsf.org) was formed to advocate for all the club owners, promoters, DJs, and other creatures of the night who create our urban soundtrack and culture.
Since then, CMAC has become powerful advocate on behalf of nightlife, demonstrating an influence on Mayor Ed Lee and other city leaders and promoting an understanding at City Hall of the important role played by nightlife, which a recent Controller's Office report found accounts for $4.2 billion in annual economic activity.
"As the recent Controller's report demonstrated, the small businesses that make up the nightlife economy have a huge impact on the overall economy, and we're happy the city is starting to realize this," Alix Rosenthal, co-chair of the CMAC board, told us.
Now, with the help of newly hired Executive Director Laura Hahn, CMAC hopes to move from playing defense against crackdowns and punitive legislation to playing offense by expanding its membership and developing a proactive agenda that will help nightlife and its purveyors flourish.
"Now that we don't have our back against the wall, we're trying to expand," Hahn told us. "We want to bring it to even smaller business owners like individual DJs, promoters, and individual musicians — the backbone of nightlife in San Francisco."
But not matter what new realms CMAC gets into, small business advocacy will always be at the core of its mission. As Hahn said, "We want to focus on standing up for the little guys who don't have people fighting for them in City Hall." CMAC will host the 2012 San Francisco Nightlife Awards, Thursday, May 31 at Mezzanine, doing even more to bring local nightlife to the fore. (Steve Jones)
SHANNON AMITIN, FARM:TABLE
"People always ask me if I ever consider expanding," Shannon Amitin, owner of farm:table (754 Post, SF. 415-292-7089, www.farmtablesf.com) says over the phone, although I swear I can hear his eyes twinkling. "I usually laugh and say, 'Yes, but only if I can find a much smaller space.'"
The joke — or rather the good fortune — here is that Amitin's bustling Tenderloin cafe and restaurant squeaks just shy of 265 square feet, with a large communal table for sharing some of the best gourmet dishes in the area. Those dishes are delectably evanescent: the three-year-old resto's changing daily menu is Tweeted each morning for your rising and shining appetite. Featured as I write this: polenta cake + yukon potato hash + soft egg, asiago + rooftop herb frittata.