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Local's Corner Closes

Scott Lucas | November 12, 2014 | Story Restaurants

In the Mission, nothing is ever just what it is. A soccer field is a colonial battleground. A dive bar is a retirement home. And a seafood restaurant is the signifier of gentrification.

Or at least it used to be. Dogged by charges of racism, Local's Corner is closing after two and a half years in business. According to the Chronicle's Inside Scoop, the ongoing lack of customers that did the restaurant in. And when the chef de cuisine took a new job in Seattle, owner Yaron Milgrom wrote in an open letter, it was the final signal to call it a day for the eatery, one of four that he owns in the area. (The other three, Local Mission Eatery, Local Mission Market, and Local Cellar remain in business.) That's not to say that the swirling controversy surrounding the restaurant helped matters. Milgrom wrote, "Before ACCE and vandalism, we were not in good shape. Certainly, neither helped. Though its impact was less financial than emotional. More than the sting, it was the cumulative wear."

We covered the dispute last August. In April, Mission resident Sandra Cuadra, a Latina, along with a party of six, tried to get a table for brunch. After a server told her to either take a table outside or walk over to Local Mission Eatery, charges of racism were aired against Milgrom—and later fanned by a similar incident involving an African-American professor and nine students. The business was boycotted by ACCE, and—separately—became the target of vandalism, including broken windows and spray-painted graffiti that included slogans like, "Keep the Mission Brown." As Milgrom told us, "People really, really get riled up, particularly about the possessive s" on the restaurant's name.

In the final analysis, it may have come down to that apostrophe. As we wrote earlier, "that possessive s—who owns what, who belongs where, how ownership can determine a city’s social, cultural, and economic fabric—is the root of San Francisco’s never-ending culture war. What’s become evident in the endless saga of evictions, protests, boycotts, and vandalism is not so much the antagonism between the warring factions as their surpassing failure to communicate with each other. The Mission community activists who have targeted Milgrom’s businesses believe that he and his ilk are doing nothing short of ruining their neighborhood and the city itself. The accused, in turn, react with befuddlement."

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