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Beautiful Murals Cover Fugly Barricades At Buena Vista Cafe’s Outdoor Dining

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The SF outdoor dining rules come with some pretty ugly requirements in order for the restaurants to get city approval to serve outdoors. At the famed Buena Vista cafe, credited with bringing Irish Coffee to the United States, the city required they put giant, ugly orange barricades around the seating area to keep diners safe from the Beach Street car traffic. But those orange barricades are no longer ugly, as a new mural installation called the “Love Project” has slathered colorful murals all over those barricades with sentimental San Francisco images by local artists  Kurt Schwartzmann and Deirdre Weinberg.  

It’s a new take on the murals on boarded up storefronts that we saw earlier during shelter-in-place, as San Francisco tries to take baby steps back to normal life. “It’s morphing now into barricades because some places are taking their boards down after the riots,” says Weinberg, whose work you may recognize from her Tenderloin Museum neighborhood portraits and other shelter-in-place murals. “The streets are next,” she laughs.

These big orange things are actually called ‘water barricades,’ because they’re actually full of gallon and gallon of water. They are in fact rented from a company in Iowa, where they will be sent back to if (knock on wood) shelter-in-place ends at the end of the year.

And the barricades were getting tagged up as fuck, even in Fisherman’s Wharf — that is, until the murals came. “This has been up for several weeks now, not one tag,” Buena Vista general manager Kevin Jones tells

The theme here is ‘The Space Between Us is Love,’ which is both a word pun and visual pun. “When palm trees are near each other, they make this heart shape. So ‘the space between us is love’, explains painter Kurt Schwartzmann. “It’s not only the shape we see, but also to promote social distancing at this time.” 

“The inspiration for my work comes from Dr. Seuss and the Muppets,” he tells us. “Dr. Seuss for his big, bold color and his surreal images, and the Muppets because they’re big and bold and colorful too, but they also have a nice, simple message of love.”

Plenty of local landmarks and signature SF stuff gets homage in the series, including the cable cars, as their turnaround is right by the Buena Vista (though they won’t be running again anytime soon). “I’m a big fan of Muni,” Schwartzmann says. “These bus operators, they work so hard and they’re taken for granted. So we need to support them.” 

And of the Wharf’s famous seals pop up too, and this is an actual portrait of an actual San Francisco seal. “There’s tons of them out there right now,” according to Deirdre Weinberg.   

These murals will remain up through the Buena Vista’s 65th anniversary in November, and until the end of 2020. And if you’re thirsty for a coffee that isn’t loaded up with whiskey, the Broke-Ass Stuart Coffee Passport brings you crazy-affordable coffees at the best best cafes in town.

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Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura- Millionaire in Training

Joe Kukura is a two-bit marketing writer who excels at the homoerotic double-entendre. He is training to run a full marathon completely drunk and high, and his work has appeared in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on days when their editors made particularly curious decisions.