Burning Bacon

An inside look at a neighborhood dispute that became an international media feeding frenzy — and it's all about bacon

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Bacon Bacon has cooked up an outsized controversy.
PHOTO BY RANDY VELASQUEZ

news@sfbg.com

Bacon has its own buzz these days, infused with an almost cult-like enthusiasm that's hard to explain. But the uptick in business that my employer, the Bacon Bacon Food Truck, has recently experienced can hardly be explained by the pork product's faddish popularity.

Bacon Bacon is in demand more than ever, and it's all because a small group of neighbors who raised a stink inadvertently set off a national media craze, thereby inspiring bacon-loving supporters to come out in droves and place their orders.

When Jim Angelus opened a neighborhood breakfast sandwich shop five blocks from where he lives with his wife and daughters in the Haight, he never imagined he'd set off a media feeding frenzy about bacon. But that's what happened.

Jim is my boss. I am a news intern at the Bay Guardian and a recent hire at the Bacon Bacon Food Truck as a line cook. Our menu is crammed full of items like bacon-wrapped fried chicken, a bacon-filled parody of the It's-It ice cream sandwich called the "That's-That," and in quintessential San Francisco fashion, a BLT with goat cheese called "THE L.G.B.T."

We're open at Brick and Mortar, on Mission and Duboce streets in San Francisco, for lunch service. We recently reclaimed our original Frederick Street location, pending installation of a costly ventilation system replacement to be OK'd by the Planning Commission as a result of a dustup stemming from neighborhood complaints.

Just a typical San Francisco small business, right?

But ever since a group of neighbors in proximity to our location in the Haight filed complaints with the San Francisco Planning Department about the smell of bacon, sparking a media firestorm, things have gotten a bit surreal.

A Wall Street Journal reporter recently interviewed us for what would become a front-page article. Bacon Bacon even made Saturday Night Live in May, with Amy Poehler informing the nation that a "San Francisco bacon restaurant" was closed for its bacon smell.

Bloggers blogged, tweeters tweeted, and Bacon Bacon was thrown into the spotlight when ABC's Good Morning America aired a segment titled, "big bacon battle sizzling."

That media spectacle started to smell like business. Random San Franciscans, many of whom had only heard of us through recent headlines, began to walk up to the truck, stop by the new location and espouse gestures of solidarity to a crew of cooks bewildered by their sudden celebrity status. Many of these supporters had never even eaten the food.

It all started with a series of short San Francisco Examiner articles by Andrea Koskey, with catchy headlines like "Bacon Bacon Aroma Set To End," which went viral in May. "One of the things I've taken away from all of this," says Angelus, "is how few people called me [as the story was going viral] and asked questions."

Maybe because it was about bacon, the media attention was largely sensational. "The Haight-Ashbury district was all about peace and love until bacon entered the picture," Vauhini Vara's Wall St. Journal story began on July 11, the day Bacon Bacon's Planning Commission hearing was scheduled. When I asked Vauhini why she was doing the piece, said she just wanted to do more "fun" articles.

"Plus," she added, as if to explain everything, "it's bacon!"

 

THE SIZZLE

Angelus started the Bacon Bacon food truck two years ago, moving away from the late nights and weekends of the restaurant business to do a lunch-only truck so he could have more time with his family.

But, as he said the day before the hearing as a recently hired personal assistant scrolled through journalists' emails, "a lot of this has been a huge distraction in running a business."

Comments

Welcome to San Francisco, where your personal irritation is guaranteed to be elevated to the importance of world peace or world hunger. This is why the national media latch on .. They cant believe how profoundly self important some of our residents can be, and that makes for great comedy.
Anyone who has ever seen a christopher guest movie can attest to that.

Posted by Maldita fondada on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 6:40 am

Do you suppose that under the freedom of editorial content Vogt provides the illustrious "Guardianista" Steve Jones and Marke B. that we might see a counter argument here?

I'll only scratch at the depth of deception here by mentioning it, but blocking Frederick Street blocks the 6 Parnassus bus line.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:10 am

Its a nuisance buisness. People pay a lot of money to live in this city, and shouldn't have to be demonized for wanting to be able to breathe fresh air or walk down their sidewalk without having to deal with a lunch line. Their customers only have to deal with the grease smell for like 15 to 20 minutes then they leave. The residents have to deal with it for most of the day. And to have their completely legitimate complait trivialized by the media and people like fondada is unfair as well. They didn't even call the police. I'm sure most of the people siding with the food truck people don't have one parked in their neightborhood all day.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:13 am

May I point out that no crime is committed by cooking bacon - so I dont know why you're crediting these NIMBY whiners with "they didnt even call the police"

Are you stating that the SFPD are responsible for responding to the irritations of individual residents now?

This paper sucks, I'm calling the police!

Posted by Guest on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

F--- the bacon truck. I don't want the odor of bacon in my neighborhood either, you folks don't even live there so shut up.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:21 am

I think the smell would be obnoxious myself, and though one's olfactory senses would eventually begin to detune for it, your visitors would always smell it; and you'd know your lungs were constantly being subjected to meat fat particles and likely carcinogens.

That said, the complaints weren't centered on the smell; only the slanted reportage was.

Again: if you block Frederick Street, you block the 6 Parnassus bus; you block Frederick; you block Clayton; etc., etc.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:50 am

The bacon was delish. I tried it just weeks before the store had to close, and while I understand the residents' complaints, I was sorry to see it go. I thought the air filtration system they had agreed to install was a reasonable compromise.

...and I'm still wondering how a café in a building blocks a MUNI bus line.

Posted by Greg on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

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