Several neighborhood-based, tenants-rights-focused protests happened Saturday in connection with Occupy SF, and the Mission protest landed in front of the new Tacolicious (741 Valencia) where some upstairs tenants claim they are being evicted. As it happens, Tacolicious does not own the building — business owner Joe Hargrave just recently opened in the space which is owned by restaurateur Jack Knowles, who himself plans to open Chapel restaurant and Preservation Hall West next door, sometime next year. Hargrave tells Grub Street that the tenants are upset to have new downstairs neighbors, but that he’s confused as to how this protest took shape, especially since he’s not aware of any eviction papers having been filed. “The Occupy movement showing up? That was really weird,” Hargrave said. “I’m not the landlord. I wanted to be like, I get turned down by banks too, you guys. It was really nonsensical.”
Hargrave admits to having clashed with the upstairs neighbors, who have made some noise complaints about the restaurant in recent weeks. But not only is he not responsible for any conflicts they’re having with building owner Knowles, he says he’s made every effort to be a good neighbor and address any complaints. “I held a community meeting over a year ago,” Hargrave says. “And only one of the upstairs neighbors showed up.” Furthermore he says he’s spent many thousands of dollars to mitigate possible complaints from neighbors, including putting trash in the basement, and installing sound-proofing to quiet the white noise from the hood in his kitchen — which a neighbor from a different building had made a complaint about. Still, he finds it ridiculous that the tenants would bring in the Occupy folks and start claiming they are being evicted.
Both the protesters on Saturday and Mission Local appear to be confused about Tacolicious’s relationship to the tenants (though one protester held up a sign with Jack Knowles’s name and phone number on it, resulting in Knowles’s voicemail box now being full). One tenant complained at the protest, “This taco shop has been set up right under our noses when we don’t even have insulation in our windows.”
Knowles, as we reported last year, purchased several of the buildings that were formerly part of the New College campus on Valencia Street, with plans for a west coast home for New Orleans’ Preservation Hall jazz band, as well as an attached restaurant and café. Grub Street has not yet been able to reach Knowles for comment by phone or email.