680 Valencia (www.SocketSite.com)
With a street front commercial space that’s sat vacant for nearly a decade, tomorrow San Francisco’s Planning Commission will weigh in on the request to convert the entire ground floor of 680 Valencia into a full-service 5,225 square foot Amber India Restaurant with 204 seats indoors and 12 seats outdoors along a modified front facade (click to enlarge).

No word from the residents on the top floor although a neighbor writes and wonders:

The 18th St. and Valencia area has seen a rapid growth in destination bars and restaurants without adequate traffic and parking abatement. A largely residential neighborhood has become noisy in the evenings. People out drinking urinate on my home on a near nightly basis. Thankfully, the rear of my apartment remains relatively quiet.

The proposed restaurant will share a backyard with several large residential buildings, including a facility for seniors. I and several of my neighbors are quiet concerned about increases in noise levels and cooking fumes. During refurbishing of the building the rear area of the building became a shop with power tools running constantly. Given that this business will likely have its busiest times during evenings and weekends it is likely to create a large noise disturbance for residents of this block. How will this business ensure that it will not negatively affect the quality of life of those residents on this block with noise (and odor)?

The Planning Department supports the project with conditions to control noise and odor.
680 Valencia Street: Amber India Hearing [sfplanning.org]

21 thoughts on “Amber India Aiming For 680 Valencia (And Sidewalk Seating)”
  1. Than the neighbor can lease the commercial space and keep it empty.
    Just because SF’s F’ed up policies have kept the space vacant for 10 years the residents should have expected that the space gets rented SOMEDAY.
    This reminds me of the people living in Wrigelyville in Chicago who used to come into the starbucks I worked at and would complain about parking during baseball season. I would just look at them and ask “oh, did you move here before they built Wrigely Field?”

  2. I’m the owner of Amber India. We plan on abating the noise for the senior home by posting a big sign that reads “Turn Hearing Aids Off”.
    Thank you.

  3. @anon.ed … So? how many japanese restaurants exist in japan town? How many chinese restaurants in China town. How many pizza joints in north beach?
    There are half at least three slice places within a block of each other in the Castro, I can think of three crepe places within site of each other at church and market.
    Either the place succeeds or fails on it’s own merits but the idea that a resident who has lived next to an empty commercial space should expect the space to stay empty is ridiculous.
    ANY business is going to create noise during the remodel, increase pedestrian traffic, parking congestion, and over all noise. I know it comes as a surprise to many in SF residents that the live in a dense populated city but their inability to observe the obvious should not prevent the city from filling empty store fronts.

  4. Japanese in Japantown, Chinese in Chinatown, pizza in North beach, Indian in the Mission. Which of these things is not the same thing?
    J/K. I don’t care personally. I’ll probably try this place two or three times, and if it proves good, I’ll eat it every so often. I heart Indian food. But that doesn’t mean don’t this placement is a particularly good idea, as Valencia is undeniably saturated with Indian restaurants. That’s if it’s mediocre. If it’s great, then yeah, you’re right, they’ll do just find and survival of the fittest it will be.

  5. “…Indian in the Mission…”
    Makes total sense. Didn’t the Spanish padres come here on a mission to convert the “Indians” to Christianity in the first place? Obvious that there should be Indian food in the Mission then 🙂

  6. Amber India has restaurants downtown (Yerba Buena Lane) and in the South Bay, where they know what Indian food’s supposed to taste like. They are delicious, spicy, and have an interesting menu. I hope they do well. Valencia can support another Indian place of this quality.

  7. Amber India has better Chicken Tikka Masala than Shalimar.
    There, I said it.
    Shalimar’s Chicken Khorma is still king though…

  8. I have to echo Badlydrawnbear’s sentiment – businesses are not the enemy. This is a commercial space, meant to be filled by a commercial enterprise. If you don’t want to live next door to any businesses, you should live in a 100% residential community. In other words, move to the suburbs.
    I know this sounds harsh, but this is a city. Most of us live here – at least in part – because of the access to small retail businesses and excellent, non-national-chain restaurants. And to be able to walk or take public transit to said businesses.

  9. It’s interesting to look it up on Google street view for a “before” view. The windows used to be covered up, as a super-divey bar might be. They tore off those stucco walls revealed these beautiful big windows. The only new thing they added was the wooden lintel over the center doorway.

  10. I recently went by Valencia for the first time in ages and was struck by the number of empty storefronts. I was surprised, given the neighborhood’s reputation for vibrancy and for great restaurants. I wish that for once SF would see the folly in struggling to keep commercial buildings empty.

  11. I love Indian food and I used to get it most often from Scenic India on Valencia so I’ll be glad of a new option. Valencia is a “neighborhood shopping street” and anyone who lives on it should accept that fact–it isn’t anything new. If you want quiet, move over to Guerrero or Dolores (though there you get traffic).
    @zzzzzzzz: I’ve been out of town for a few months and since I’ve been back I’ve been kind of shocked at the number of vacant storefronts all over town, not just Valencia. I guess a lot of places were on their last legs from the recession when I left and collapsed while I was gone.

  12. There has been quite a bit of turnover on Valencia recently. Some businesses (like Modern Times bookstore moving from Valencia to 24th St) can’t pay the increased rent. Others (like Ramblas becoming Locanda)have been in the process of remodeling to become new, vital spaces. Some of the spaces are claimed, but the new projects are proceeding slowly, perhaps related to the economy. Overall, Valencia Street is one of the healthier commercial streets in the city.

  13. Conditions of use permit could include, Outdoor seating during the day only. Owner/operator clean up outdoor area and wash sidewalk after each business day. In the past store owners took care of the sidewalk to the street in front of their business…doesnt seem that happens today in most cases.

  14. While I agree that there are a good amount of empty storefront appearing places on Valencia right now, I agree with Dan. If you look a little closer a lot of those storefronts are getting developed into something. When you say, “went by,” was that via car? If you’re on foot you’ll probably come away with a different idea. I’m thinking “how on earth are they gonna support all these restaurants?” Especially the jazz one. Sorry. This city keeps on trying, trying, trying to make a jazz venue, or six. Why? Most people simply don’t like jazz very much and it’s been that way for 40 years.

  15. Badlydrawnbear: how is it that “SF’s F’ed up policies have kept the space vacant for 10 years”?
    This used to be the BusyBee Market, which was closed just after the dot com boom. I’ve seen sporadic work going on here for over the last decade and assumed that the new owners had just gotten in over their heads. Do you know anything in particular about this property?

  16. As one who lives nearby, I am a bit disappointed by Amber moving in. There is already plenty of good Indian food in the area so this is not a particularly interesting addition.
    Contra Anon, I very happy the jazz place is opening up as it expands the live music options. And Jazz is quite popular in the City.
    Anyway, both should be allowed/welcomed. We will see how they do.

  17. I was going to post that old familiar business chestnut that nine out of 10 restaurants fail in the first year and so given that there are already choices available for Indian cuisine in the vicinity, we shouldn’t have to wait too loing to see “how they do”. Decided to look up where that stat came from first (I’m pretty sure I remember it from the movie Midnight Run starring Robert De Niro.
    Turns out that’s an urban myth. The real empirical figure is more like three in five restaurants close or change ownership within their first three years of business.

  18. The issue is less whether it contributes to saturation of Indian restaurants in the neighborhood or if it can endure, but more about the sound associated with the proposed outdoor space. Are there viable options to reduce sound? Smaller outdoor footprint? Plants and shrubs? Awnings, plexi?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *