The Life Fixers

Gretchen Schrafft | June 26, 2012 | Story

Car Mechanic

We asked car maven Dale Martin, whose muscle car just won first place at the Marin Sonoma Concours d’Elegance car show

He recommended Common’s Auto Parts, 915 airport Blvd., So. S.F., 650-583-1242

Here’s why “It’s a family-owned business that’s been open since the ’60s. They’ll do whatever it takes, and they’re quick—they can build a complete motor in a week. Once you go to a place like this, you never go anywhere else.”


We asked architectural color consultant Bob Buckter

He recommended WinningColorsPainting, 241 duboce ave., 415-826-0423, winning

Here’s why “I don’t know many other painting contractors who do all of the things Nita [Riccardi] does so well: She’s courteous with clients, she shows up on time, and she gets the job done when she says she will. I’ve also heard her say that she does some extra things that the client never knows about. Most other people in that business are trying to cut corners.”


We asked contemporary dancerTegan Schwab

She recommended John W. DeRoy, 120B Hickory St., 415-864-7860,

Here’s why “He’s the go-to guy in the dance community. Two years ago, my hip was bothering me to the point where I couldn’t walk or dance. Dr. DeRoy worked me in between patients, and I was fine to perform in a week’s time.”

Knife Sharpener

We asked butcher and manager at Avedano’s Holly Park Market Chris Arentz

He recommended JoshDonaldofBernal Cutlery, 331 Cortland St., 415-902-6531,

Here’s why “A good sharpener is really hard to find—we’ve been through many. But Josh can tell the way a person cuts depending on how the blade looks. He tailors the blade to each person.”

Shoe Repair

We asked designer shoe fanatic (and petstore owner) Kattya Breitenbach

She recommended Anthony’sShoeService, 340 kearny St., 415-781-1338,; and Shoe Craft, 441 Stockton St., 415-309-4491

Here’s why “Anthony’s is the best for high-quality shoes. He actually puts red rubber soles on the bottom of my Louis Vuittons so they’re always perfectly red. But if I need a heel redone immedi- ately, I go to Shoe Craft, since they’ll do it on the spot. When it rains, there’s a line of barefoot girls waiting for their shoes.”

Interior Designer

We asked recent home redecorator and Flour + Water co-owner David Steele

He recommended Claudia Mahecha-Allen of Supernatural, a contemporary design gallery and interior design service, 1766 18th St., 415-355-9005,

Here’s why “Using modern furniture built for a modern floor plan is a real challenge in a Victorian, which has lots of small rooms. But Claudia made it work by playing with the scale of the pieces. Her couch seats up to eight people and makes a narrow living room feel warm and welcoming.”

Makeup Artist

We asked event producer Rosemary Hattenbach of Rosemary Events, which specializes in luxury weddings

She recommended Sarah Hyde, proprietor of sHe Artists,

Here’s why “Sarah is completely versatile and can provide a number of looks from completely natural to over-the-top glam. She’s made everyone that I’ve ever sent to her look exquisitely beautiful.”


We asked master garden designer Flora Grubb, of Flora grubb gardens

She recommended GroundCoverLandscaping, 1615 Innes ave., 415-859-0481,

Here’s why “You can design something really well, and it can fall apart in a matter of weeks if it’s not maintained. These are the folks I recommend to my customers, who seem to be as in love with them as we are.”

Window Washer

We asked a resident of a top-floor Russian Hill apartment with lots of windows, Lucy Malocsay

She recommended SanFranciscoWindow Pros, 871 Cayuga ave., 415-596-5252, sfwin

Here’s why “I have a difficult set of windows— they’re steel, with lots of panes that cover three sides of the building. These people are accessible, responsive, and reasonably priced. They also do more than just wash windows—they can repair and pressure-wash.”

Caterer and Event Planner

We asked professional party planner and founder of Cross Marketing PR Claudia Ross

She recommended LadiesWhoLunch Catering and Events, 63 Fair Oaks St., 415-641- 7415,

Here’s why “They have an outstanding chef de partie originally from Napa Valley’s French Laundry and will customize my menu to fit my exact needs. One of my personal must-have bites to go with bubbles is the crisp rillon of Berkshire pork belly confit—pine!”


We asked TaskRabbit founder Leah Busque

She recommended Chris Mok, TaskRabbit,

Here’s why “Of the hundreds of handymen in the area, the entire TaskRabbit team has a go-to whenever we’re in need: Chris Mok. Chris is a whiz with a toolbox; he assembled most of the desks in our San Francisco office!”

Jewelry Repair

We asked well-known jewelry tree, philanthropist, and president of the Board of Trustees of the Fine arts Museums of San Francisco Dede Wilsey

She recommended anyone in the Shreve

Building, 200 Post St., 415-421-2600, shreve .com

Here’s why “The worst thing for jewelry is to be in a hurry—that’s when you have accidents. I’m prone to that, but the people at Shreve are so good that whenever a repairman leaves, I get him to refer me to someone else.”

Bike Repair

We asked avid road cyclist and travel specialist at Geographic Expeditions Alice Howell

She recommended Market Street Cycles, 1592 Market St., 415-255-2453, marketstreet

Here’s why “Matt and John have been working on my bikes for five years, and every time I ride out of the shop, my gears feel like butter. They’re friendly and service-oriented, and they genuinely care about what they do. This is the only place I would take my bike to be repaired.”


We asked San Francisco Symphony cellist Jill Rachuy Brindel

She recommended Amy Hanks, 211 Gough St., Ste. 205, 415-846-4643,

Here’s why “I’m 62 years old, and Amy has extended my career. I go to her because I have arthritis in my thumbs—and once had carpal tunnel syndrome—and I’m able to play pain-free because of her.”

Yoga Studio

We asked power-yoga instructor Mel Yahr

She recommended Core Power, 811 university ave., Ste. 202, Berkeley, 510-486-9642,

Here’s why “I’ve been using Passport to Prana, which is a trial pass for 75 Bay Area studios. I’ve been to about 25 so far, and Core Power stands out because of the variety of classes that cater to all levels and because the teachers are welcoming and really know their stuff.”

At-Home Tech Support

We asked organizational development consultant Elizabeth August, who works with small companies that usually don’t have IT staff

She recommended HughBlanchard,HB Computer Services, 415-533-5726,

Here’s why “I’ve worked with a lot of service contractors over 20 years, and Hugh does everything from helping to figure out your needs to acting as a liaison to other providers to giving tutorials. He’s extremely accessible, his rates are reasonable, and he has the patience of a saint.”

Dog Trainer

We asked founder of senior dog rescue service Muttville Sherri Franklin

She recommended PawsitiveTails,125522nd St., 415-834-5140,

Here’s why “Whether they’re working with pit bulls or Pomeranians, puppies or seniors, what sets them apart is their ability to read dogs and address any issue from separation anxiety to dog aggression.”

Massage Therapist

We asked insanely busy father of a toddler and cofounder of Todd Schwartz

He recommended NellWatersofWholeBody Tonic, 2325 3rd St., 415-531-7184,

Here’s why “Nell doesn’t just work your muscles in silence hoping she’s doing a great job. She always wants to know how you feel and what you want worked on. My wife, who also goes to her, calls her ‘a pain-seeking missile,’ who can land on the exact spot that’s bothering her, often before they’ve even discussed how she’s feeling.”

Picture Framer

We asked co-owner of Big Umbrella Studios Matthew Na Sal

He recommended CapricornFraming, 335 pisadero St., 415-292-3390, capricorn

Here’s why “Most of us at the gallery are DIY framing enthusiasts, but when you’re trying to sell a $3,000 painting, that homespun, cobbled- together look just won’t do. That’s when we go to Capricorn Framing to get a gallery-quality frame that befits someone’s masterpiece.”


We asked corporate event planner at software company Five9 Brett Goldstein

She recommended SydneyNailSpa,2758 Octavia St., 415-928-1268,

Here’s why “My nails need to look good for events, and this is my favorite place. Getting shellac redone can be slow and kind of a bitch, but these people are the fastest. Plus, they serve you bottomless mimosas! As soon as I took a sip out of my glass and looked back down, it was full again.”


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