It's a sad day in eating-while-drinking news: popular outdoor drinking spot Zeitgeist has announced this morning that Virginia Ramos, aka The Tamale Lady, will no longer be allowed to peddle her delicious wares at the bar, due to city codes and regulations.
The legality of the Tamale Lady's business has always stood in a grey zone according to an old and largely unenforced city law banning outside vendors from selling food on the premises of a food and drink establishment, even with permission from the owner. However, an employee at Zeitgeist told SFist that the health department issued an order for her to stop her activities because she doesn't have a permit.
No word on why the sudden crackdown, especially since the Tamale Lady has been toting her tamales to bars around the Mission for years now. It's also unknown whether she will be able to continue selling at her other neighborhood spots.
Update: We reached Virginia to learn more about the unfolding situation from her perspective.
Virginia says she received a shock when she got the news from Zeitgeist yesterday that she couldn't sell tamales there, effective immediately, and was disappointed that Zeitgeist didn't try to work out a solution with her, such as letting her serve tamales from out of their kitchen. But she says what's make her sad is that even though she has many other spots where she sells her tamales, Zeitgeist is the spot where she feels the most community support. "This is one of the places I can see you guys all the time and talk to you guys and love you guys. Everyone comes in, there's a patio with everybody sharing everything. So that's one of the things that really upsets me about it."
Virginia says that she's now afraid of getting in trouble for selling tamales at other spots, and is regretful that she hasn't been able to create a safer business for herself, such as a shop of her own. "I let it go, let it go, let it go and I never realized I needed to stop."
She hopes that her many friends and fans around the city might be able to help her with any ideas or opportunities to sell her tamales legally. For instance, she's now thinking about selling her tamales to offices at lunchtime. But she's still trying to figure out her next step.
"I come in from Mexico, I never go to school because I have to work for my kids, I got seven kids, I learn English, I write a little bit (you can see my twitters they're really bad)," she tells SFist. "But if you kids can help me, let me know. Maybe something on the Internet, so I can go sell tamales from the offices ... then later when I've got more money then I can start my own little place."
If you have any ideas for Virginia, the best place to reach her is through her Twitter profile. She's also celebrating her 60th birthday on June 21st with a party at the Eagle Tavern, and she says everyone's invited.via