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