Best Restaurant Policy - 2002
If you're among those who were starting to wonder if San Francisco was devolving into a place with a bottom line and little else, here's a story of redemption that comes from, of all places, the Financial District. On the corner of First and Mission, on any given evening, a line of 20 or 30 homeless people gathers calmly, the crowd smiling and making conversation among themselves, all but unnoticed by the traffic of pedestrians heading home after a long day's work. They stand quietly at the door of Portico, a modest cafeteria-style restaurant, waiting for free plates of food doled out by the diner's employees. Since Portico opened its doors three years ago, it has been feeding the business crowd by day and the homeless by night. "My brother and I really wanted to help," says Portico's owner -- who prefers to be known only as R.C. -- explaining how the policy got started. "We couldn't stand it -- it was just too sad to look at homeless people without trying to do something. So we decided that this was the best way we could help." While many businesses would be looking for publicity the moment they handed someone a Kleenex, Portico has been quietly doing its part. Sadly, R.C. told us his brother recently passed away from leukemia. "This is now a part of his legacy," he says. We couldn't think of a better one.