In the long LOOOOONG saga of the former Patio Cafe property at 531 Castro, another year is winding down, more vague promises have been lobbed by landlord Les Natali, and the place remains empty with little hope of it ever becoming the Hamburger Mary's Natali has insisted it should become for the past several years.
Hoodline circles back after they noticed that Natali has once again let the liquor license lapse, despite the fact that he appears to be moving on getting a replacement tenant for the now vacant former Zapata Taqueria space at 18th and Collingwood, which he also owns (along with next door Toad Hall and Badlands across the street, among other properties).
But any promise anyone thought there might be when Natali and newly found manager Larry Metzger (who also runs The Mix nearby) went before the Entertainment Commission over the summer to secure a permit for the drag entertainment that is part of the Hamburger Mary's brand should probably stop holding their breath. A liquor license renewal fee has apparently gone unpaid again, and Hoodline notes that the 2014 conditional use permit that Natali secured for Hamburger Mary's (exempting it from the neighborhood's formula retail ban) is set to expire in January 2018.
Nonetheless, as of July, Metzger and Natali were allegedly on the hunt for a qualified chef.
The Patio closed for good approximately 15 years ago and it's anyone's guess what Natali's motives have been in keeping the place dark and empty all these years. His plan to revive Hamburger Mary's in the space the chain that was founded in SF in 1974 but would ultimately close its Folsom location in 2001 has seemingly been nothing but words and occasional liquor license renewals for going on four years now, and it should never have taken this long. Prior to that, Natali had allegedly been shopping the space around to tenants, but no tenant was ever found.
SFist attempted to contact Metzger in July to see if any of these plans were really in motion, but we never heard back from him. Hoodline has also reached out to Natali and Metzger, and this remains an ongoing, stultifying mystery, and an unfortunate blight on what should otherwise be a lively block of the Castro.
In related news, the next-door Sausage Factory restaurant is likely not long for this world, but we have not had an update on that since the building was put on the market in May.