can i get dinner

01Dec11
Restaurant space construction
Photo by Katherine Williams

For the past two months, in the building I have helped shepherd through construction, we have been constructing a restaurant. It has been a vision for this particular location for almost 10 years, long before I started on the project. In other neighborhoods where commercial activity is already vibrant and non-stop, one small restaurant may not be a big deal. In fact, in some neighborhoods in San Francisco, when one business closes there are several others lining up to take their place. Yet in this place, this “food desert”, one restaurant is a big deal.

I live and work in places labeled “food deserts”. You may not even know what that means if you don’t live in such a designated place or are not involved with health, food or fitness advocacy. The US Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as “a low-income community without ready access to healthy and affordable food” (source). On the ground, what this really means is that people may have to travel above the average time to get to a full service grocery store or that they do not have access to an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables at local stores. The term was actually quantified fairly recently “to be used with other data to determine eligibility for Federal funds.”

The reality for me is that there no is large grocery store in my neighborhood. There are two bodega type stores. For dining, there are a few restaurants but definitely not the large selection of cafes, coffee shops and eateries found in other San Francisco neighborhoods.

This summer a new grocery store opened that can be arrived at by a 10 minute transit ride or drive from my house. Right beside the grocery store will be two new restaurants. These new places give people in the neighborhoods where I live and work new food options, particularly for lunch and dinner. Because the three restaurants are either expansions or permanent homes for existing places, hopefully, they will come with their own following. Residents here will finally get what other neighborhoods have taken for granted in the number of quality dining places, and the neighborhood will hopefully attract outside economic infusion.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood dinner spot? How important is it to your neighborhood?