[BALUG-Talk] venue (was: Re: In-person BALUG at (some) Henry's Hunan restaurant)

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Tue May 11 20:01:07 UTC 2021

Quoting Michael Paoli (Michael.Paoli@cal.berkeley.edu):

> Well, for San Francisco, there are a few Henry's Hunan Restaurant
> locations - existing - which may or may not be open - or open for
> dinner, or open for dine-in, yet, etc. - or may not even still exist ...

That's what I just got through saying, basically, yeah.  ;->

> Anyway, some others I'm at least partially familiar with ...
> 647 Sacramento St.  Smaller location, pretty sure I've never eaten there.

The page on Yelp
(https://www.yelp.com/biz/henrys-hunan-restaurant-san-francisco-4) has a 
January 11, 2021 notice from the restauranteurs:  "Hello, this location
is temporarily closed.  Please contact our Mission (415-585-8838) and
Church (415-826-9189) street locations for service."

However, nice catch.  That's the one still-extant Henry's location I
missed, yesterday.

> 924 Sansome St.  I think I only ate there once, large location - much
> dine-in space ... not sure about (nominal) evening crowds/capacity - I'd
> guestiate from the location it may be more busy/packed (nominally) for
> dinner service.  But looks like that location is probably beyond
> temporarily closed (gone?).

That was the _original_ Henry's Hunan location -- and, as I mentioned
just upthread, closed permanently quite a while ago (probably around 2014).

> 1016 Bryant St. - have eaten there fair number of times, but not in quite
> a while.  Considerably smaller location.

I already covered this one (though I appreciate the detail about it
being a considerably smaller location):  As I said, Google Maps claims
they currently _do not_ do dine-in service, only takeout and delivery.

> I'm guestimating up 'till about 2021-06-15 +- will be a relatively gray
> area, as things continue to partially open up, but we've not yet
> fully made it to where at least San Francisco and the Bay Area thereof
> can essentially declare COVID-19 fully behind us and get rid of all
> related restrictions ... 

Nope.  I personally feel I've struck the right balance for CABAL
meetings starting this past Saturday, of saying people with ramped-up 
vaccine immunity (which I reserve the right to verify) are welcome to
come, provided they feel it is safe and acknowledge that doing so is at
their own risk.  It also helped that CABAL is 98% outside in my spacious
back yard.  _However_, speaking for myself, I would be comfortable at
this point, i.e., starting now, with indoor BALUG dining under similar
terms as CABAL's, at a restaurant.

> Also, the venue landscape will be forever changed.

So true!

We're not done losing cherished restaurants, and there will be permanent
changes for the survivors, not to mention replacement businesses that
spring up to replace those we've lost.

That is also an area where restaurants in the urban core (where there's
less available space for outdoor dining) and those in the fog belt are 
disadvantaged compared to those out here in the sticks.  E.g., Alpine 
Inn in Portola Valley, a historic beer garden with an immense outdoor
dining space, has done well and reopened early.

With San Francisco County having recently entered Yellow Tier, I expect
we'll be seeing more reopenings and expanded service.  (San Mateo County
is stuck for now in Orange Tier, moderate risk).

> And yes, Henry's Hunan Restaurant - certainly including 110 Natoma
> location - food there has always been quite good if not excellent, and
> the prices quite reasonable for the value.  But, although BALUG has
> met there for a fair number of years now, I don't know that we're
> necessarily wed to that restaurant's location 

One thing strongly in that location's favour:  It is airy and spacious
inside, thus getting close to the ideal risk profile of outdoor dining
such as one has at Alpine Inn.  

So, as a point of comparison, as I mentioned, I've never been inside the
Excelsor District (Mission nr. Ocean) location.  The Google Street View
photograph shows a small door almost invisibly tucked to the right of a
large storefront for a Mexican restaurant.  So, is the Henry's Hunan
dining space cramped?  Can't really say.  Without visiting or seeing
good indoor photos, all I can say is that the 110 Natoma venue (currently 
not yet reopened) is really good by general industry standards, as to
airiness and spaciousness.

BALUG could always relocate to Alpine Inn, but it's certainly not
Chinese and certainly not San Francisco (so that's only a joking

The closest San Francisco analogue I can think of (quickly) to Alpine
Inn is Zeitgeist, a beer garden at 199 Valencia @ Duboce.  Funky
mostly-outdoor place with picnic tables, and, if you wish, you can bring
in pizza from across the street and they don't mind.  Google Maps says
they have reopened for indoor (patio) dining.

Reviews on Google Maps suggest that the beer and food remain good, but
that the staff have gotten frayed tempers dealing with pandemic
restrictions and other related matters (including the risk to their good
selves), and so have tended to be way less laid-back and more snippy
than they used to be (and who could blame them?).  Definitely _not_ 
Chinese, but a past haunt during Dot-Com days, and it has its pleasures.

> Anyone rather to quite local to San Francisco want to do some more
> detailed reporting and recommendations for venue ... and even
> approximate timing, as things open up?

That would be appreciated.  (I'm a whole county away, as the bottom end
of Menlo Park.)

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