The condo-dwelling neighbors of the new Bissap Baobab on Mission Street are now trying to get the Senegalese restaurant and dance club’s alcohol license revoked, with complaints over the club’s fully legal and permitted live entertainment.
It seemed like a storybook ending to a long and difficult saga when the new Bissap Baobab, called “Big Baobab,” opened in September at Mission and 19th Streets. Longtime Bissap Baobab and Little Baobab proprietor Marco Senghor was nearly driven out of the country in a Trump-era immigration crackdown, and the year-long legal saga essentially cost him both businesses. Yet it appeared a happy ending when Bissap Baobab was set for a comeback at the former Lupulandia Brewery space.
My latest column: San Franciscans have long adored Bissap Baobab, a West African restaurant and dance hall. But the owner’s attempt to run a bigger, better version on Mission Street has run into a familiar foe: complaining condo owners next door. https://t.co/kEp5CaUZuE— Heather Knight (@hknightsf) February 8, 2023
So much for the happy ending. The Chronicle reports that the new space’s condo neighbors are inundating City Hall with noise complaints about the place, and are even trying to have Senghor’s beer and wine license revoked. And he cannot get a hard liquor permit for the place until the beer and wine permit is resolved.
“Anything I do, they will complain,” Senghor told the Chronicle. “On Mission Street! It’s a commercial zone. Come on. They want the Mission to stay quiet, and they want the Mission to die.”
The Chronicle adds that “the neighbors have called 311 a dozen times to complain about loud noise,” and that “Each time, inspectors have found Senghor in full compliance with his permit.” The new Bissap Baobab has even restricted his own permit rights; neighbors wanted a music cut-off time of 10 p.m., Baobab countered by ending the outdoor rooftop deck music at 9 p.m.
This means yet another round of tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and soundproofing for a beloved local business that’s been around in one form or another for nearly 25 years. As seen above, Senghor has started a GoFundMe for Bissap Baobab’s new round of troubles. “This conflict has led to a noticeable decline in business, difficulties in paying rent, difficulties in continuing to provide live entertainment, and an estimated loss of $300,000 in potential revenue,” the GoFundMe says. “The funds raised will be used to cover any additional soundproofing needed so that Bissap Baobab can peacefully coexist with the neighbors, to help pay the debt accumulated from the losses.”
Even the neighboring pre-school sent letters of support of the new Bissap Boabab to get its permit. But apparently, it's the condo above that Mio Preschool that is having the temper tantrums.
The Chronicle merely describes the opponents as a neighboring “building’s Homeowners Association,” and got no comment from them. But a look back at the Tuesday, July 19 Entertainment Commission meeting where Bissap Baobab got their entertainment permit (you can still watch that meeting online) shows it as the homeowners association (HOA) for 2235 Mission Street. “All the residents unanimously oppose this,” the HOA president said at the meeting. “We’re not NIMBY-ists. Given where we live, we are happy to have a lot of things, very diverse neighbors.”
“It would make our building unlivable. What they’re planning to do, we would not be able to live,” the HOA president added. “I love where I live, my favorite restaurants are all within a block. My favorite shops are all nearby. If they move in, I will not be able to live in my home anymore. But I also won’t be able to afford to move, because the property value would drop precipitously if a loud bar is next door.”
And you can add to this the irony that the neighborhood’s nightlife is actually featured in this condo’s marketing materials. A realtor’s listing for a condo at the address promotes that it’s "Steps from: Dandelion Chocolate, Tartine Bakery, Urban Putt, Dolores Park, Mission Chinese, Mission Cliffs, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Papalote's, Rainbow Grocery, ODC, Roxie Theater, Dog-Eared Books, Foreign Cinema, and Gracias Madre."
They might even have included Bissap Boabab had it been open when they wrote those marketing materials. But now that it is open, they don't want it, and it's another story of the "fun police" being hostile to nightlife, and preferring SF to a sleepy bedroom community.
Image: Joe Kukura, SFist