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Side Dish 

Wednesday, May 26 1999
"I don't think a straight guy can cut it behind the bar." That simple phrase, purportedly uttered by the owner of the Metro Bar, was the grounds of a labor dispute that was just settled before a commissioner of the Labor Board. The complainant, a bartender and cocktailer at the predominantly gay Market Street establishment, contended he was fired because he's het. The ex-employee pursued his case not for the money -- the settlement was a pittance -- but because he wanted to prove a point.

Generally, the litigious nature of the '90s hasn't had much impact on the restaurant industry, mostly because employees feel powerless against owners -- especially since most are employed on an "at will" basis. But sexual politics aside, this is a wake-up call to all of us: The restaurant industry is a loose and freewheeling endeavor, but that doesn't mean that the regular rules of engagement don't apply.

Tip of the Hat
It looked like a stakeout at One Market last week. The place was teeming with San Francisco's finest -- but our boys and girls in blue were serving bread, not warrants. Bradley and Jody Ogden were hosting the police force for its second annual Tip-a-Cop event. The cops helped out with the table service while soliciting "tips" for the Special Olympics. They raised $12,000 between Bradley's four restaurants. Harry's met the long arm of the law before, but never over such a tasty lunch. (I always tip, of course.)

Shakedown Street
It's been so dead on 11th Street lately that someone's even left a backhoe parked in the middle of the street and no one's as much as blinked. But that should change really soon: There's construction going on next door to V/SF, where Martel and Nabiel are opening a SOMA branch of their hugely popular Sushi Groove restaurant. Likewise, another pair of promoters-cum-foodies, the Solle brothers, are popping the top on Butter. Under the banner "Two turntables and a microwave," they'll be serving the four basic food groups -- butter, sugar, alcohol, and caffeine -- out of the back of an old silver car trailer. And the Eleven site is slated for construction of -- gasp -- lofts! There'll probably be a spot for biscotti and espresso on the ground floor of the new building. In the meantime the structure is an eyesore, covered with posters and graffiti.

Across the yellow lines at the DNA Lounge changes are under way. Word is a kid whose fistful of Netscape stock options just vested has gone into escrow with this workable, midsized venue. It's not the first time the Lounge has almost made the handoff -- let's hope it happens this time. And I can't forget to mention the Philly cheese steak joint that's slotted to go in next door to the Holy Cow. Just another meat market on the strip ....

Comings and Goings
Howard Cummins has left Le Colonial after having been brought in to stabilize the Cosmo Alley gem last year. He's still got his Bogey's out in Orinda -- but Harry hopes he can entice Cummins to stay in the city. Tim Dale is coming in to shake the place up. I know: Harry reported just two weeks ago that Dale was stepping away from the biz to run his yoga studio. Well, man cannot live on exercise alone.

Sean Hayes -- who starred in Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss and beams into Middle America through his role as Jack, Will's best friend on Will & Grace, was sighted socializing at Mecca. I gotta tell you, though -- if someone needs that much introduction, he's not a star yet.

The W had only been open for three days when Courteney Cox and David Arquette set up camp in the lobby bar. They looked a bit ziggy-zaggy after a temperature-raising night out at Mercury. Meanwhile, Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie slunk into the Slanted Door while the dark glamour duo were in town for their Creatures show.

Round 2
The celebrity death match continues between the dailies' food scribes. (Scoopies vs. Beaters?) I'm putting my money on the Food Beat by a head or two: There's always the character issue to consider.

By Harry Coverte

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

About The Author

Harry Coverte


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  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.

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