Foreign Cinema Expansion On Hold After Complaints

Gentrification concerns and Planning Commission red tape put a cork on Foreign Cinema’s plans for an adjacent wine bar.

Upscale Mission District foodie destination Foreign Cinema was set to complement its current 12,500-square foot restaurant with additional wine bar in a vacant spot right next door. Those plans are suddenly on hold and in question, according to the San Francisco Examiner, after restaurant ownership requested a delay on the wine bar’s application before the San Francisco Planning Commission.

Foreign Cinema John Clark and Gayle Pirie still hope to add the wine bar to the vacant 2540 Mission Street spot that had most recently been a sales center for the Vida condominium complex. But they requested  an indefinite continuation on that application after pushback from neighborhood activists and the Planning Commission itself.

“For the past year that we’ve been working on this, Planning has had no problem with our expansion,” Clark told Eater SF. “We don’t know what changed for them, they just told us that we were too big for the neighborhood.”

The potential size of Foreign Cinema — which would be more than 18,000 square feet with the expansion — goes well beyond the 6,000-square foot limit that non-residential spaces are allowed in the Mission. That’s the Planning Commission’s main concern, but they also voiced objection to yet another posh, ritzy food and beverage establishment that primarily serves as out-of-neighborhood clientele.

“I love Foreign Cinema,” Planning Commission vice president Dennis Richards told the Examiner. “But you really got to put it in context with what else is going on in the neighborhood.”

Foreign Cinema counters that they do prioritize hiring local Mission District residents, and that the wine bar would create 30 to 40 new jobs in addition to the 130 people the restaurant currently employs. And they do intend to resubmit the application after additional work with the planning department and Mission Economic Development Agency.

“We’ve been in business for 18 years, we can weather some storms,” Clark told Eater SF. “We’re an extremely stable element to the block.”

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