Mar 29

Still here, still busy, still accepting help!

Ahh yes. Where did the Planet go? So i’m afraid I would love to post at least once a month and update everyone on what’s happening. But unfortunately my new job downtown means i’m far less in and around the Portola and simply just too busy with family and work. But, I did get this fantastic video from a realtor who loves to big up the Portola whenever she can. I thought it was worth sharing.

Remember, I might be super busy, but you might not. If you want to write something up for the blog. Feel free to contact me at and let’s have at it!


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Sep 17

Charity and the JAMBand hits McLaren park this month

McLaren Park is awesome. Period. It’s the second largest park in the city of San Francisco and in the middle it has the most amazing outdoor stage for music and theater events. For the past few years there have been a range of free music concerts run under the title “Saturday in the Park“. On the 27th of September there will be yet another free music event. Charity and the JAMBand are playing from 1pm. They perform award winning concerts for children and their families. Chuck Farrugia, from Help McLaren Park, just sent the flyer below to the Planet. Chuck told us that;

We are trying to get the words out to the schools too so if you happen to be a school teacher, work for a school or have kids in a school please spread the word! This show has proven to be a huge hit for kids and adults.  Please come again to support our park or if you have never seen Charity, come and enjoy the show for the very first time.  You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

And Chuck is always spot on, so come on down in a few weeks and join in the fun…


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Sep 17

Nano brewery, Ferment.Drink.Repeat opens in the Portola next year!

Kevin and Shae, bringing a unique beer experience to the Portola

Kevin and Shae, bringing a unique beer experience to the Portola

The Portola Planet has been slow for many months due to a busy family schedule and a crazy new day job. But while we’ve been quiet, a lot of things have been going on in the Portola. We’ve seen superb progress at the Burrows pocket park, great free live music in McLaren Park this summer and news of some exciting new business along San Bruno.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is due to reopen with new owners and they plan to maintain the theme of the popular local restaurant but update the menu with some newer ideas. The Portola Planet will get a chance to speak with the new owners in a few weeks and report back here.

But this article is all about another great new business that’s planning to open on San Bruno Ave. After months of looking for a location, Kevin and Shae Inglin were pleased to secure a large space previously occupied by Innovative Windows Inc. (in between Imperial Garden Restaurant and the old Avenue Theatre). Their mission? To open Ferment.Drink.Repeat – a Nano Brewery with Tap Room co-located with the largest homebrew supply shop in the city. As an Englishman who has a passion for ales, I had to find out more and had the chance to have lunch with Kevin and Shae.


As we entered the large space, Kevin immediately threw down on the floor the plans for the whole space. They are still in the process of deciding on minor changes, but the format was clear. At the front, there will be a bar with plenty of seating and tables. This is absolutely a place to have a pint or two. Walk past the bar and to the right will be a cooler where the beer is stored, but behind that will be where the magic happens. Kevin has been involved in the home brewing scene for the past 18 years and has previously served as the Vice President of the San Francisco Homebrewers Guild and is currently an active member of the board.

As you enter FDR, you’ll walk right into the tap room. Where you can drink a full pint of any one of the beers on tap. Initially the beers will be of Kevin’s own creation, but the idea is that he will select home brewers, who have proven their mastery of the craft by winning an award, to come and brew their recipe at FDR. 2-3 weeks later, you’ll be able to drink the beer onsite. Like what you are drinking? Then head upstairs to their retail store where you can purchase all the equipment and ingredients you need to make your own. Although, as Shae reminded me, just because you can follow a Martha Stewart cake recipe, doesn’t mean you are making Martha Stewart cakes!

Bridgetown fermenters under construction

Bridgetown fermenters under construction

The equipment for FDR is being constructed specially for them and the fermenters above are now finished and ready for delivery. It’s impressive looking stuff, but Kevin assures me that it’s not going to scare your average home brewer. His fermenting room is essentially large scale versions of what most home brewers already use, so it’s going to be familiar territory. Is he expecting anyone to wander in and brew? No, he is going to be selecting those who are well versed in the craft.  But, for those who want to start learning, you can buy everything you need for your first brew from FDR for somewhere between $100 to $150. If you want to learn more about the whole home brewing scene and start reading up before you try it yourself, Kevin recommends the How To’s on the American Homebrewers Association website.

I asked him if he had any ideas for a local Portola beer? He was already one step ahead. He said he has Portola Porter in the works! We cannot wait. When FDR gets closer to opening, keep an eye on the Planet and we’ll bring you up to date.

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Sep 16

2014 Portola Garden Tour tickets on sale NOW!!


Once again the wonderful event that is the Portola Garden Tour is going to held on the 27th of September. Tickets are now on sale and we at the Portola Planet highly recommend attending. It is a fantastic way to get a feel for our neighborhood, meet some really wonderful neighbors and get some good exercise! All the information you need is in their press release below…



What: The annual Portola Garden Tour featuring 14 private and public gardens

When: Saturday September 27, 2014, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: The Portola neighborhood

Cost: $25 for one ticket; $40 for two – see below for ticket sales locations

Online @ and at the following locations:

Sterling Bank, 2555 San Bruno Ave.; Four Barrel Coffee, 2 Burrows St; Fat Beli Deli, 2598 San Bruno Ave.; Family Connections, 2565 San Bruno Ave.; and Flora Grubb Gardens, 1634 Jerrold Ave

On September 27, 2014 sixteen public and private residential gardens in The Portola will be open to the public for viewing. The annual Portola Garden Tour, a highly anticipated neighborhood event, is now in its eighth year. The tour has become a great way for residents in The Portola to get to know their neighbors, and for people who live in other areas of San Francisco and beyond to discover this wonderful enclave.

Once home to flower-growing enterprises and farms, the Portola is known as San Francisco’s Garden District. Roughly bordered by Silver Avenue to the north, Mansell Street to the south, San Bruno Avenue to the east and McLaren Park to the west, The Portola is one of the last, true blue-collar neighborhoods in San Francisco. It is also one of the few places in the city with enough sun to grow tomatoes. As new businesses open up on San Bruno Avenue, and property values rise, the Portola is redefining itself from undiscovered gem, to real estate hot spot.

The Portola is a diverse neighborhood with a rich history. Maltese, Italian and Jewish immigrant families settled in The Portola in the late-19th century, followed by African-American shipbuilders who moved to San Francisco from the south during World War II. In the decades since, Latinos, Filipinos, Chinese, Vietnamese and others have planted roots in The Portola, a neighborhood that welcomes all.

The Portola Garden Tour began in 2007 as a fund-raiser for the Portola Branch Library at Goettingen and Bacon streets. When the library opened in 2009, the community decided to continue the popular event as a fund- raiser, and created The Portola Garden Scholarship at City College San Francisco for Environmental Horticulture and Floristry Department students. The first scholarship was awarded in 2010 and has grown to two per year. Funds are also used to pay for work projects in The Portola that employ City College students. This year the Portola Branch library will be showing its own beautiful garden on the tour for the first time.

For those who want to know more about what’s in store, check our the Portola Planet’s review of last year

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Aug 19

ferment drink repeat comes to the Portola!


Ok, ok. It’s been a LONG while since we last updated the Planet. It has been a very busy year for the editor. But something just popped up on our radar which could not go unmentioned.

Yip. Currently ferment.drink.repeat is working on securing a space on San Bruno Avenue to bring us all local beer! This is excellent news and you can read about their campaign to raise money for this at their website, The Planet has reached out to the owners and hopes to find out more in due course…

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Dec 30

Portola in the finals for the SF Curbed Cup!


Game on! The Portola is in the final of the Curbed SF neighborhood of the year competition. In round one we easily defeated North Beach and then the Lower Haight in round 2. Amazingly we squeaked past our district 9 neighbors, Bernal Heights (and Bernalwood was lacking a post, we can only assume Todd was on vacation!) to move into the finals.

So the Planet would like to ask all our Portolan citizens to head over to SF Curbed and vote for their wonderful ‘hood. Such a worthy trophy is sure to bring much needed funding into our neighborhood which will result in a brand new commercial corridor, a new BART station, a theme park in McLaren park and of course three or four more Four Barrell coffee shops sprinkled across our fair land. But in all seriousness, this is just a bit of fun and if anything proves that many Portola residents are online and focused on making people aware that we are on the map.

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Dec 26

Portola in the top eight of the SF Curbed neighborhood popularity contest


We at the Portola Planet love, we love Sally Kuchar and best of all we love pitching the Portola against other less worthy San Francisco ‘hoods. So we are delighted at the news that the Portola has made it through into the top 8 in a Curbed Cup neighborhood popularity contest, the winner of which will be crowned the San Francisco neighborhood of the year!

So we are asking all the loyal Planet followers to cast their vote. Click on this link and make sure we get through to the next round. Looking at the bracket above, it seems that we are likely to meet the popular Bernal Heights in the next round, a hard match to win. So it would be terrible, and very unfair if we suggested that people vote for the Tendernob in an attempt to avoid a district 9 showdown. We would never ask people to do such a thing, but if you did, well, on your own conscience be it.

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Dec 22

A technacular Christmas in Portola

Who needs to go all the way to Noe Valley or downtown, when you have the house with the most extravagant Christmas decoration right in your neighborhood and in my case right next door?

Yes folks, I am talking about the house with Giant Santa on Felton St, and to be precise, a 16 foot tall Giant Santa, tied down by 8 cables. Last Sunday I walked over to 12 year old, David Gohstand’s house to talk to him about his masterpiece. David has been designing and decorating his families house on Felton street for the past few years.

David with his Dad- It all started with the reindeer by the lawn

David with his Dad- It all started with the reindeer by the lawn

It all started when his grandma took him to Big Lots and bought him a small motorized reindeer that was quickly installed in the lawn outside. He was hooked! Ever since he has been slowly adding to his Christmas collection resulting in the stunning display that captivates the interest of kids and adults alike and single-handedly amps up the Christmas spirit in the neighborhood.

If you have not made your way up on Felton street, you should, bring your camera along, cause this is a picture you will want to take and perhaps even post on your Facebook page.

Circuit Board that David built..

Circuit Board that David built..

What made my jaw drop is not the spectacular decoration or the mind-blowing size of Santa; it is the technology that controls these giant blow-ups. Yes, you read it right, it is the “Technology”. Each of those giant blow-ups are controlled using a circuit board that David built with the help of his father and it can be controlled from anywhere in the word via the internet. So let’s say that David travels to the North Pole to try and convince real Santa to show up for next year and he wants “Giant Santa” back home to deflate, all he has to do is get on the computer, execute some commands, and magic!

David at the computer explaining how the system works via the internet- it took him and his father 3 months to write the program.

David at the computer explaining how the system works via the internet- it took him and his father 3 months to write the program.

I think if there were ever a Bay area Santa, this is how he would like to be controlled, via the Internet. And what if there is a hurricane (aka many an evening in the Portola), what if Santa is in danger of being uprooted? Don’t worry y’all, David has that covered. He has a meter running that measures wind speed, and if the wind speed crosses a certain threshold, motors get cut-off and Santa just becomes a pile of nylon.

I know there are several houses around San Francisco with tons of Christmas decoration and even really exquisite ones like the one in Noe Valley (21st street), but I doubt that they have a wind meter, a homemade circuit board and a 12-year-old boy writing code behind the scene.

I asked David about his plans for next Christmas, and he told me it is a secret, but the one thing he did say was that he is going to use every inch of space left to launch his new decorations. As his neighbor, I know the only space left for decoration is his roof. So watch out, maybe you will see a giant space shuttle with a futuristic looking Santa landing on David’s roof next year!

The house decorated for christmas- 1940

The house decorated for Christmas – 1940

His advice for folks who wish to start on this festive adventure is to buy your decorations after Christmas, when they are on sale and also use LED lights to save on electricity. Wise boy. I personally am very inspired and will probably do my share next year to amp up the holiday cheer on Felton Street. You can find this wonderful creation at 1543 Felton Street.

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