Socially Conscious Butterfat
There's a history of grumbling from neighborhood activists whenever Ben & Jerry's sets up shop. But the new Chestnut Street store is a scoop of a different flavor. The franchise is owned by nonprofit Larkin Business Ventures, which provides training and employment to Bay Area young people who lack access to a wide variety of opportunities. CEO Diane Flannery told Dish that Larkin Street Business Ventures was one of two nonprofits chosen from 2,000 inquiries Ben & Jerry's received for franchise operation. Not only that, those old hippies from Vermont waived the $25,000 franchise fee and donated $10,000 in training costs. All profits from the store will go toward creating additional businesses offering youth employment options and developing vocational training programs.
Bigtime for Cool Beans
Sam and Henry's Cool Beans, the coolest coffeehouse in the world (okay, the coolest west of Van Ness), has increased its payroll by 100 percent. What that translates to is the hire of Nikki Albertson, who now works weekends behind the counter with owners Sam Manzano and Henry Clemmons, serving up those lattŽs and cream-cheesing those bagels. Inner Richmond regulars wonder if this expansive move will lead to absentee ownership for Cool Beans or, perish the thought, a franchise. No way. Sam only recently stopped driving a cab, but Henry still works the line at Dish in the Haight to keep Cool Beans brewing.
King of the Hill
If any San Francisco restaurant can be said to be a landmark -- in fact, it has official Historic Landmark status -- it's Julius' Castle. Julius Roz, an Italian immigrant and former restaurant counterman, built the restaurant on the rocky eastern slope of Telegraph Hill in 1922 using materials and craftsmen from the 1915 Pacific Panama Exhibition. Closed at the end of last year for restoration and refurbishing, Julius' Castle reopens May 5. And nostalgia buffs needn't worry about it going New Age: The Victorian dining areas, complete with glittering chandeliers, dark paneling and high-backed Queen Anne chairs remain intact. Nor will it be vegan. The new menu shows off the skills of chef de cuisine Duilio Valenti, of Bice Restaurants (New York, Chicago, San Diego) and Caesar's Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, who specializes in contemporary and classic French and Italian cooking.