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What's New in San Francisco | April/May 2015

“What’s New in San Francisco” is a monthly roundup of news and updates presented by the San Francisco Travel Association.

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April 14, 2015 — “What’s New” is compiled by the San Francisco Travel Association. Past editions of “What’s New” and a list of “Recent and Coming Attractions” are available in the Media section of San Francisco Travel’s website, www.sanfrancisco.travel.

San Francisco Travel Reports Record-Breaking Numbers of Visitors and Economic Impact in 2014

San Francisco experienced unprecedented tourism levels in 2014, welcoming 18.01 million visitors, an increase of 6.5 percent from 2013, according to the San Francisco Travel Association. These visitors spent $10.67 billion in 2014, up 13.7 percent from the previous year.   

“The growth of San Francisco’s visitor industry continued to break records in 2014,” said Joe D'Alessandro, San Francisco Travel president and CEO.  “Both visitor spending and the total number of visitors have reached the highest levels ever.”

The tourism industry generated $665 million in taxes for the City of San Francisco, up eight percent from the previous year.  The number of jobs supported by tourism rose 13.2 percent to 87,005 jobs in 2014, with an annual payroll of $2.67 billion, an increase of 15.9 percent.

In 2014, there was an average of 150,412 visitors in San Francisco each day.  Visitor spending equated to $29.23 million daily (including spending related to meetings and conventions).

San Francisco Travel also reported that 130,000 people stayed in peer-to-peer lodging such as Airbnb.  Cruise ships saw 260,000 passengers embark and debark in San Francisco.   These market segments had not been tracked previously.

In 2014, San Francisco Travel booked 41 conventions at Moscone Center, which will fill 939,115 hotel room nights between 2014 and 2029. Their attendees and exhibitors will spend an estimated $679,172,475.

“While domestic leisure, business and convention travel continue to expand, most of the industry's growth in recent years has been in the international sector.  Since 2009, international visitor spending in San Francisco has grown 71 percent.  In the same time frame, domestic spending grew 25 percent,” D’Alessandro continued.  “We estimate that San Francisco had 4.1 million international visitors in 2014, about 31 percent of our visitors from outside the Bay Area (or 22.8 percent of all visitors).  They spent $3.4 billion, or 34 percent of the total spent by all visitors.”

To address San Francisco’s global appeal and opportunities for new visitation from abroad, San Francisco Travel recently launched a version of its website in Portuguese to reach the fast-growing Brazil market.

The Chinese visitor market is expected to grow by 20 percent in the next three years.  San Francisco recently launched websites in traditional and simplified Chinese in partnership with Brand USA.  

Additional website sites in Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, French and Korean will be launched by June of 2015.

“The year ahead holds significant opportunities for San Francisco to keep up the pace,” D’Alessandro said.  “We will showcase the city’s appeal for conventions and events to Meeting Professional International’s World Education Congress in August.  And next February, we will invite the world to join us for Super Bowl 50 with the game at the new Levi’s Stadium and the NFL Experience, Fan Village and other events in San Francisco.”  Media contact: Laurie Armstrong, larmstrong@sanfrancisco.travel, 415-227-2615.

San Francisco Travel’s www.sanfrancisco.travel Scores Webby Award Nominations

The San Francisco Travel Association has been nominated for the prestigious Webby Award and the Webby People’s Voice Award for its recently-redesigned site, www.sanfrancisco.travel.

“These nominations are an exciting acknowledgement of the beauty and functionality of our site,” said San Francisco Travel President and CEO Joe D’Alessandro.  “The Webby Awards carry the same prestige as the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmys and the Tonys.  Similar to those awards, it’s an honor just to be nominated – but what we really want is to win a Webby!”

The Webby Awards, which began in San Francisco in 1996, received 13,000 entries for 2015 from all 50 U.S. states and more than 60 countries.  Only five nominees are selected for each category.  San Francisco Travel is nominated in the Associations category. 

Two honors - the Webby Award and The Webby People’s Voice Award - are presented in each category.  Members of the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) select the nominees for both awards in each category, and determine the winners of The Webby Awards. 

In the spirit of the open Web, The Webby People’s Voice is awarded by the voting public, garnering millions of votes from all over the world.   

Voting for the People's Voice Award is open at http://pv.webbyawards.com/2015/web/general-website/associations until 11:59 p.m. PST on April 23.

San Francisco Travel re-launched their website in October, 2014, after a complete redesign.  It provides a wealth of information and inspiration for visitors, meeting planners, travel professionals, media and San Francisco Travel partners, all in a format that is intuitive, objective and deeply curated.  Media contact: Laurie Armstrong, larmstrong@sanfrancisco.travel, 415-227-2615.

SPECIAL EVENTS 

World Series Champions San Francisco Giants Return to AT&T Park for 2015 Season

When the Giants begin their 16th season at AT&T Park on Monday, April 13, they will raise their third World Champions pennant in five years.  The first 40,000 fans will receive a replica pennant presented by Bank of America.  Opening Week will feature giveaways highlighting the 2014 Championship season.  This includes a Madison Bumgarner Postseason MVP Bobblehead presented by AAA to the first 40,000 fans on Tuesday, April 14; a Giants World Champions Snow Globe presented by Comcast SportsNet to the first 30,000 fans on Wednesday, April 15; a Giants World Champions Calendar presented by AT&T to the first 40,000 fans on Thursday, April 16; and Fireworks Night presented by Hanwha on Friday, April 17.  On Saturday, April 18, the 2014 team will receive their 2014 World Championship Rings during a pre-game ring ceremony presented by Tiffany & Co.  The first 40,000 fans receive a replica ring courtesy of AT&T.  On Sunday, April 19, the first 7,500 kids, 14 and under will receive a World Champions Drawstring Backpack presented by See’s Candies.  

The Giants will hold a number of special anniversary events including the celebration of Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday on May 7; Bruce Lee’s 75th Birthday on July 7; and Grateful Dead Tribute Night commemorating the group’s 50th Anniversary on August 13.  The Giants will hold their first LEGO® Day at AT&T Park on September 12 where a life-sized LEGO model of a Giants player will be constructed at the park.

Adjacent to and completing the recently opened Garden in centerfield, fans will find new, permanent concession stands, creating a lower centerfield food court and a mecca of ballpark favorites.  The concession stands include a second location for Tony’s Slice House featuring New York style cheese and pepperoni pizza from 11-time World Champion Pizza Champ Tony Gemignani, a new Doggie Diner Grill with display cooking and a Gilroy Garlic Fries stand.  In addition, the food stands in The Garden will offer foods made without gluten containing ingredients and fresh vegetarian choices. 

In-park, fans will notice a new centerfield LED display board located directly beneath the Mitsubishi DiamondVision scoreboard.  This 38’ wide x 13’ high board will display messages, birthday greetings, announcements, fan features and other game related content. 

The revamped MLB.com Ballpark app will make it easier than ever to access and manage tickets on a smart phone; upgrade seats; connect with the Giants social media accounts; and order in-seat food delivery, including whole pizzas from Tony’s Slice House.

New corporate partnerships, which will continue to enhance the fan experience, include CLEAR®, which will allow Fast Access members to bypass magnetometers and enter AT&T Park at the touch of a finger. Lyft, the official rideshare partner of the Giants will offer fans special rates and travel options to and from AT&T Park.  

For a complete listing of 2015 season highlights, visit sfgiants.com/2015highlights.  To connect with the Giants via social media go to www.sfgiants.com/connect. Media contact: Shana Daum, 415-972-2496, sdaum@sfgiants.com.

World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play, April 27-May 3, 2015

The top 64 golfers in the world will go head-to-head in competition at TPC Harding Park, April 27 through May 3 at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play.  In match play, the winner is the player who wins the most holes, rather than the player who takes the fewest strokes overall. It is one of golf’s most unique formats and intense challenges.

Among the excitement, fans can now enjoy a new format that shows three full days of competition play from the world’s most elite players like Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and 2015 champion Jason Day before single-elimination play on Saturday and Sunday.  For tickets and information, visit www.worldgolfchampionships.com.  Media contacts: Chris Reimer, PGA TOUR Director of Communications, 904-273-3286, Candace Reinheimer, PGA TOUR Manager of Communications, 904-280-4742.

SFMade Week Celebrates San Francisco’s Local Manufacturers, May 4-10, 2015

SFMade Week -  a weeklong celebration of locally made products and their makers - returns for its fourth year on May 4-10, 2015.  The festival features more than 60 events at San Francisco factories and retailers including sales and pop-ups, open factory tours, demos and workshops, “makerhoods” and Ramp it Up! - SFMade’s fifth anniversary party on May 7. 

SFMade Week is presented by SFMade, a non-profit founded in 2010 whose mission is to support a vibrant manufacturing sector in San Francisco. Since its founding, SFMade has helped local manufacturers to start, grow and stay in San Francisco, and supports a growing membership of more than 500 businesses who employ a diverse workforce of more than 4,000 people. 

For more information, visit www.sfmade.org.  Media contact: Janet Lees, 415-408-5605 x 2, janet@sfmade.org.

San Francisco Botanical Garden 75th Anniversary Celebration, May 31, 2015

San Francisco Botanical Garden marks the 75th anniversary of its opening to the public with a free, daylong celebration on Sunday, May 31, featuring family activities, special tours, performances and demonstrations that highlight the global nature of the collection, food, drink and more. Visitors can also enjoy a special online exhibit about the Garden’s history as well as read about its role in conservation at www.SFBotanicalGarden.org throughout the year.

 John McLaren, the engineer who turned barren sand dunes into San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, had always dreamed of planting a special arboretum and botanical garden within the Park to house exotic species from faraway lands. A prosperous widow named Helen Strybing made that dream come true when she left a sizable gift to the city for its development. Work began during the Great Depression with the help of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and in 1940, the 55-acre San Francisco Botanical Garden opened to a public eager to see its unfamiliar and alluring collections. 

Today this living museum is home to more than 8,000 different kinds of plants from around the globe including many that are rare and no longer found in the wild. The Garden is a cherished oasis in the heart of the city and a vital resource for conservation and education.  For more information, visit www.SFBotanicalGarden.org or call 415-661-1316.  Media contact: Nina Sazevich, nina@sazevichpr.com, 415-752-2483.

ACTIVITIES, ATTRACTIONS & TOURS

“Whales: Giants of the Deep” at California Academy of Sciences

Mighty and mysterious, colossal and charismatic—whales have captured our minds and inspired our wonder for centuries, yet remain some of the most elusive creatures on the planet.  Through Nov. 29, 2015, visitors to the California Academy of Sciences can now explore “Whales: Giants of the Deep,” an interactive new exhibit featuring enormous whale skeletons, interactive media, and rarely seen cultural artifacts. Whales is developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, home to one of the largest marine mammal collections in the world. 

In this 4,100 sq. ft. exhibit, visitors will dive deep below the ocean’s surface to explore the fascinating evolutionary biology, adaptations, and diversity of whales. While gazing in awe at enormous whale skeletons and literally climbing through the inside of a life-sized blue whale heart model, adults and children alike will gain new perspectives of these majestic underwater giants. Through rich visual storytelling, the people of the South Pacific will come to life, including legendary whale riders, whale scientists, and former whaling families, whose traditions and livelihood have been inextricably linked with whales for generations. Rarely exhibited ancient whale artifacts and contemporary artwork from the Maori people of New Zealand illustrate the complex and compelling history between whales and human populations. Along the way, visitors will learn how Academy scientists are working to study and sustain whale populations in our own coastal backyard and bringing this research home to the museum through engaging exhibits and research programs.

At the center of the exhibit, two enormous articulated sperm whale skeletons—the largest of which measures more than 58 feet in length—will confirm this species’ place as the largest toothed predator on the planet while commanding the attention of visitors upon entrance.  For more information, visit www.calacademy.org. Media contact: Kelly Mendez, 415-379-5133, KMendez@calacademy.org.    

Alcatraz Island and Angel Island Combination Tour Returns for the Season

In collaboration with California State Parks and the National Park Service, Alcatraz Cruises offers a seasonal tour including both Angel Island State Park and Alcatraz Island. This combination tour runs during the spring and summer seasons and is available through Oct. 26, 2015.  Ticket prices are $63.50 per adult/junior (12-61); $42.75 for children (5-11); $61.75 for seniors (62+); and free for toddlers (0-4).

The combination tour is a five-and-a half-hour journey. Ticket prices include the ferry rides to both islands, a one-hour historic tram tour on Angel Island and the cell-house audio tour on Alcatraz. (Note: The tour of the Angel Island Immigration Station is not included in the Alcatraz & Angel Island Combination Tour).

Most people know that Alcatraz was once a world-famous federal penitentiary, but the island’s history before and after the penitentiary era is less well known. For example, few realize that it was also the site of the first American lighthouse on the West Coast and that the island served as a huge harbor defense fort during the Civil War. After the fort became obsolete, the U.S. Army turned the island into a military prison. Following the closing of the penitentiary in 1963, Alcatraz became the site of an American Indian protest movement that would change modern American history.

Angel Island is known as the “Ellis Island of the West.”  Between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, immigrants who came to America’s West Coast were processed at Angel Island. They were detained for days, sometimes months or years, while waiting to enter the country. The United States Immigration Station on Angel Island is now a newly renovated museum that offers visitors a chance to learn about this important part of U.S. history. The museum is open for self-guided tours between 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday-Sunday.  

Alcatraz Cruises is the National Park Service concessioner for ferry service to Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay.  Alcatraz Cruises hosts nearly 1.5 million visitors annually.  Alcatraz Cruises designed, built and operates the first hybrid ferry in the United States.  The Hornblower Hybrid’s revolutionary design has reduced fuel consumption by 75% and has already begun to be implemented in other parts of the country.  

For more information visit: www.alcatrazcruises.com.  Media contact: Molly Blaisdell, 925-300-7252, molly@hooklineandthinker.com

Muir Woods Shuttle – The Way to Go to the Redwoods

The easiest way to visit Muir Woods National Monument is also the most environmentally friendly. The Muir Woods Shuttle eliminates the hassles of parking and mountain driving, making the trip to this historic redwood grove even more enjoyable.  The convenient and low cost service ($5 for adults 16 and older) operates on weekends and holidays, April 4-Oct. 25, 2015.  For schedules, routes, locations and fees, visit www.marintransit.org/routes/66.html.  Media contact: info@marintransit.org

ARTS & CULTURE

58th San Francisco International Film Festival, April 23-May 7, 2015

The San Francisco Film Society has announced the highly anticipated Big Nights selections for the 58th San Francisco International Film Festival (April 23 - May 7), including its Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night programs. The two-week event kicks off with the Opening Night presentation of Alex Gibney's fascinating documentary “Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine” (USA 2015), about the tech icon. “The End of the Tour” (USA 2015), James Ponsoldt's acclaimed portrait of David Foster Wallace starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, is slated for the Festival's high-profile Centerpiece spot. Finally, the Festival will come to a close with celebrated veteran director Michael Almereyda's drama ”Experimenter” (USA 2015), starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder. Special guests are expected to attend and will participate in post-screening Q&As at each event, and all screenings will be followed by the Festival's signature celebratory parties. 

Browse the complete list of SFIFF58 press releases here, including the previously-announced Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night programs, the tribute to Irving M. Levin Directing Award recipient Guillermo del Toro, the Peter J. Owens Award tribute to Richard Gere, and more.

 By the numbers, the SFIFF is: 

  • 181 Films
  • 65 Narrative Features
  • 35 Documentary Features
  • 2 New Vision Features
  • 79 Shorts
  • 46 Countries Represented
  • 33 Languages
  • 2 World Premieres
  • 5 North American Premieres
  • 5 US Premieres
  • 59 Women Directors

For more information, visit www.sffs.org.  Media contact: Bill Proctor, 415-561-5024, bproctor@sffs.org

Museum of the African Diaspora Features “Portraits and Other Likenesses” from SFMOMA,
May 8-Oct. 11, 2015   

Organized in partnership with the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), “Portraits and Other Likenesses” explores how portraiture has evolved from a form of personal identification to a genre as invested in fiction, subversion, stereotype, and fantasy as it is in the description of physical traits.

Featuring more than 50 artworks ranging in date from the early 1930s to now, this exhibit from SFMOMA demonstrates how artists interested in issues of identity have negotiated a vast array of European, African and American visual-cultural forms to redefine what it means to make a portrait. The carefully selected artworks — many exhibited for the first time as part of SFMOMA's collection — encompass paintings, sculptures, photography, media art and installation, including key pieces by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Romare Bearden, David Hammons, Wifredo Lam, Glenn Ligon, Consuelo Kanaga, Nicole Miller, Chris Ofili, Lorna Simpson, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems and Fred Wilson, among others.  For more information, visit http://www.sfmoma.org/exhib_events/exhibitions/585.  Media contact: K.C. Price, 415-358-7200, kcprice@moadsf.org

Celebrity Fashion Photographer Roger Erickson Celebrates Local LGBTQ Public Figures in Major City Hall Exhibition  

On June 9 through Sept. 11, 2015, “OUTspoken: Portraits of LGBTQ Luminaries by Roger Erickson” will be featured in San Francisco City Hall’s Ground Floor and North Light Court and on 40 downtown JCDecaux kiosk posters.

Erickson, a Bay Area native, is considered one of the world’s foremost music, fashion and celebrity photographers with his work featured in publications such as  Vogue (Mexico & Latin America), Entertainment Weekly, Ebony, Esquire Magazine, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Source Magazine, The Advocate and Out Magazine. Over the past six years Erickson has created a substantial portfolio of prominent LGBTQ public figures including actors, dancers, writers, musicians, artists, athletes, activists and clergy. In time for the annual PRIDE celebration, the San Francisco Arts Commission Galleries’ will present the first-ever major exhibition of Erickson’s work, featuring newly-commissioned portraits of local LGBTQ luminaries. 

The exhibition features more than 80 luminous portraits of celebrities such as Wanda Sykes, Greg Louganis, Rachel Maddow, Edward Albee and Chris Colfer alongside 20 Bay Area LGBTQ notables. The exhibition will also include portraits of author Michelle Tea, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, punk-rockers Jon Ginoli and Lynnee Breedlove, playwright Jewelle Gomez, choreographer Sean Dorsey, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, drag legend Peaches Christ and many more.  In addition to artists, Erickson photographed LGBTQ San Francisco Supervisors Scott Wiener and David Campos in their offices at City Hall. 

For more information, visit www.sfartscommission.org/gallery/2015/outspoken-portraits-of-lgbtq-luminaries-by-roger-erickson. Media contact: Kate Patterson, 415-252-4638, Kate.Patterson@sfgov.org.

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary Season with100 Free Events, May 3-Oct. 31, 2015

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival (YBGF) has announced the programming for its 15th Anniversary Season at Yerba Buena Gardens in downtown San Francisco. The Festival kicks-off on Sunday, May 3 with 10-time Grammy winning Latin jazz pianist and NEA Jazz Master Eddie Palmieri and his Salsa Orchestra, the first of this year’s 100 admission-free events.

YBGF presents music, theater, circus, dance, poetry and children’s programs with artists from around the Bay Area and the world.  Named one of the Best Urban Green Spaces in North America by USA Today, Yerba Buena Gardens is a world-renowned cultural destination for Bay Area residents, families, workers and tourists alike. Yerba Buena Gardens is located between Mission Street and Howard Street and Third and Fourth streets in downtown San Francisco.   

Yerba Buena Gardens Festival highlights include the very popular Let’s Go Salsa@Jessie! series, the family friendly Children’s Garden Series, Poetry Tuesdays with Litquake and Thursday Lunchtime Concerts.  

The Yerba Buena Gardens Festival hosts annual cultural celebrations including the 18th Native Contemporary Arts Festival on June 21, 15th Annual AfroSolo in the Gardens on August 1, the 22nd Annual Pistahan on Aug. 8-9, the Third Annual SF Son Jarocho Concert in collaboration with Brava Theater Center and Round Whirled Records on August 13, and Brazil in the Gardens on August 16.  Each weekend, the festival has curated a lineup of musicians, dancers, poets and actors from around the world.

Visit www.ybgfestival.org or call 415-543-1718 for more detailed information.  Media contact: Marshall Lamm, 510-928-1410, marshalllamm@earthlink.net.

San Francisco Playhouse Announces 2015-2016 Mainstage Season

San Francisco Playhouse Artistic Director Bill English and Producing Director Susi Damilano have announced selections for the 2015-2016 Mainstage season. Three additional world premieres will be announced soon as part of their Sandbox Series of new plays.

Founded in 2003 and boasting 2,500 subscribers, the only mid-sized professional venue in downtown San Francisco, San Francisco Playhouse has quickly filled the need for a broad-based intimate, professional presenter of edgy premieres and re-invigorated classics.

San Francisco Playhouse September-to-September 2015-2016 Season includes two west coast premieres, two musical revivals, and one Bay Area premiere—as well as one play which will be announced soon. Kicking off the mainstage season is “Dogfight,” a musical comedy sensation and San Francisco premiere. Sarah Ruhl’s “Stage Kiss” follows, examining what happens when former lovers share a stage. The New Year will usher in “Colossal,”  Andrew Hinderaker’s genre-defying play about football and dance. The exploration of difficult truths will continue with another daring play in March, to be announced soon. Springtime will bring with it “Red Velvet,” a play that won the Most Promising Playwright London Critics Circle Award for playwright Lolita Chakrabarti, followed by the crime noir musical “City of Angels,” winner of six Tony Awards. 

Continuing to build on the momentum of the Award-Winning Sandbox Series, a third show will be added to the lineup, soon to be announced. 

For information and tickets, visit www.sfplayhouse.org or call 415-677-9596.  Media contact: Anne Abrams, goanne@comcast.net

New Conservatory Theatre Center Announces 2015-2016 Season

The New Conservatory Theater Center (NCTC) has announced the line-up for the 2015-16 subscription season. Regarded nationally and internationally as San Francisco’s Premier LGBQI and Allied Theatre Company, NCTC builds on this rich tradition with its 2015-16 Season, featuring exhilarating U.S., regional and world premieres, as well as two extraordinary musicals.  

Season highlights include:

  • The U.S. premiere of “For the Love of Comrades”
  • The regional premiere of Douglas Carter Beane’s “The Nance”
  • The Bay Area debut of award-winning playwright Sarah Gubbins’ “The Kid Thing”
  • The “Furwell Tour” of the holiday hit, “Avenue Q”
  • The world premiere of M.J. Kaufman’s poetic and profound “Sagittarius Ponderosa”
  • The regional premier of Terrence McNally’s “Mothers and Sons,” fresh from Broadway
  • The hit off-Broadway Barbra Streisand comedy, “Buyer & Cellar”
  • The West Coast premiere of a reimagined “On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever” 

For more information, visit www.nctcsf.org. Media contact: Ben Randle, 415-694-6156, ben@nctcsf.org.

American Conservatory Theatre Gives Strand Theatre an Exciting Next Life

In the spring of 2012, the American Conservatory Theatre (A.C.T.) was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a second home: The Strand Theater in San Francisco's Central Market neighborhood, directly across from UN Plaza. The Strand, which opened in 1917, had lived through various incarnations before being shuttered in 2003. When its doors open in May 2015, The Strand will attract a dazzling array of new and established talent, serve as a home for productions from A.C.T.’s acclaimed Master of Fine Arts and Young Conservatory programs and a permanent facility for A.C.T.’s Education and Community programs to explore creative opportunities, and give A.C.T. even more freedom to produce a broad variety of theatrical work and boundary-pushing projects that span artistic disciplines. The first performance in the new venue, Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information,” will open on June 3, 2015.  For more information, visit www.act-sf.org/home/about/the_strand.html.  Media contact: Kevin Kopjak, kevink@charleszukow.com, 415-296-0677.

Walt Disney Family Museum Presents Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination

From an intangible dream to a phantasmagorical reality, The Walt Disney Family Museum has announced a new exhibition, “Disney and Dalí: Architects of the Imagination,” on view July 10, 2015 through Jan. 3, 2016.  Guest-curated by filmmaker Ted Nicolaou, this extraordinary, immersive and enriching experience tells the story of the unlikely alliance between two of the most renowned artists of the 20th century: brilliantly eccentric Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí and American entertainment innovator Walt Disney. Presented through a multimedia wonderland of original paintings, story sketches, conceptual artwork, objects, correspondences, archival film, photographs and audio - many of which highlight work from Disney studio artists Mary Blair, Eyvind Earle, John Hench, Kay Nielsen and more - this comprehensive exhibition showcases two vastly different icons who were drawn to each other through their unique personalities, their mutual admiration, and their collaboration on the animated short Destino - which, regrettably to both Disney and Dalí, was never completed during their lifetimes - and their playful friendship that lasted until Disney's passing in 1966.  For more information, visit www.waltdisney.org.   Media contact:  Andi Wang, 415-345-6816, 650-714-5699, awang@wdfmuseum.org

U.S. Premiere of “Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait,” at Contemporary Jewish Museum, July 23-Nov. 1, 2015

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) presents the U.S. premiere of “Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait,” a personal and intimate exhibition about Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse (1983-2011). Co-curated by the Jewish Museum, London and Winehouse's brother Alex and sister-in-law Riva, the family gave the Jewish Museum unprecedented access to Winehouse's belongings, including her guitar, record collection  and iconic outfits, which will be on view July 23-Nov. 1, 2015.  The exhibition celebrates her passion for music, fashion, London and her family. Many unseen photographs of Winehouse's family life will also be on display, revealing her strong Jewish roots and heritage as well as her close family relationships.

Additionally, an exhibition of contemporary art organized by The CJM - titled “You Know I'm No Good” after a track on Winehouse's album Back to Black (2006) - created in response to the Winehouse phenomenon will be on view in an adjoining gallery. The exhibition includes work by Rachel Harrison and new commissions by Jennie Ottinger, and Jason Jägel. For more information, visit www.thecjm.org or call 415-655-7800.  Media contact: Nina Sazevich, nina@sazevichpr.com, 415-752-2483.

FOOD & DRINK

Off the Grid and the Presidio Trust Announce the Return of Twilight@The Presidio on Thursday Evenings

Off the Grid and the Presidio Trust have announced the return of Twilight @ the Presidio.  The 2015 season, beginning April 2, expands on an already winning formula that has become one of San Francisco’s marquee evening events.  The new Twilight doubles the fireside cabanas and provides a more extensive live music line up to go with delicious offerings from some of San Francisco’s favorite eateries and food trucks.

Twilight @ the Presidio, a truly unique evening picnic event, comes complete with lantern-lit dining cabanas, cabana-side cocktail service, Adirondack chairs, fire pits, live music and views of the sun setting over the Bay. Capitalizing on the iconic view of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the nostalgia of snacking and conversing next to an open fire, Twilight is a prime location for a family outing, a first date, or dinner with friends. 

Food and drinks will be served either fireside or in cabanas, and bar service will be onsite and available for delivery to cabanas and fire pits. The 2015 Twilight season will feature a bi-weekly rotating lineup of 10 food trucks including some favorites:  The Chairman, The Boneyard, Doc’s of the Bay, Korean Bobcha, Taco Guys, El Sur, Crab Lab, SAJJ, Cheese Gone Wild, Johnny Doughnuts, Pagan Fire Pizza, Lobsta Truck, Odang Udon, Kokio Republic, Bacon Bacon, KoJa Kitchen, Kenny’s Heart and Soul, An the Go, Fins of the Hoof, Garden Creamery. 

Off the Grid began in June 2010 with the simple idea that grouping Street Food vendors together would create an experience allowing neighbors to connect with friends, and families to reconnect with each other. Since then Off the Grid has worked hard to develop markets that are both located in urban cores of cities, and that utilize spaces that are not easily activated effectively throughout the day. Currently, Off the Grid operates 40 weekly markets in the greater Bay Area, and works with more than 175 vendors weekly. At its core, Off the Grid believes in the power of a shared food experience to connect communities.

The Presidio Trust is a distinctive federal agency created to save the Presidio of San Francisco, a historic Army base, and transform it for a new national purpose. Since 1998, the Trust has worked to catalyze ideas, partners, and resources from all sectors to protect the Presidio as a public place. In 2013, the Trust reached a key milestone established by Congress and now cares for the Presidio without annual taxpayer support. For more information, visit http://offthegridsf.com/.  Media contact:  Marla McLaughlin, 415-274-2510, marla@wagstaffworldwide.com

Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) Presents Grand Wine Tasting, April 26, 2015

The world’s most comprehensive tasting of American-produced Tempranillo celebrates its eighth year in 2015, when the Tempranillo Advocates, Producers and Amigos Society (TAPAS) conducts its annual Grand Wine Tasting at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio in San Francisco on Sunday, April 26, 2015. Nearly 30 TAPAS member vintners will showcase their top Tempranillo bottlings as well as other Iberian varietal wines.

Trade and curious consumers will have the opportunity to taste Tempranillo, Albariño, Garnacha, Verdelho, Touriga Naçional and several other Spanish and Portuguese varieties in a casual walk-around setting where they can chat with growers and vintners.  Attendees will be encouraged to explore the diversity of grapes and styles produced across the western United States – including a debut showing from Texas.  Many TAPAS members are limited-production, family-owned wineries and will be pouring small lot wines that are not widely available. Many of the wines will also be available for sale at the event.  

This year’s event will also feature a Tempranillo Shootout starting at noon - a blind tasting of four domestic Tempranillos versus four Spanish versions, moderated by Patrick Comiskey, senior correspondent for Wine & Spirits Magazine, regular contributor to the Los Angeles Times, wine judge, educator and writer for many other publications.

For more information, visit www.tapasociety.org.  Tickets to the Tempranillo Shootout and Consumer Tasting are now on sale at tapas15.eventbrite.com.   Media contact: Heidi Stine, heidi@tapasociety.orgwww.tapasociety.org/2015-Media-Registration

Game Restaurant Transformed to All Spice

Michelin-star Chef Sachin Chopra and wife Shoshana Wolff opened All Spice San Francisco, at 648 Bush Street, on March 13, 2015.  Formerly Game, the couple swapped the previous concept with their award-winning restaurant on the Peninsula, All Spice.  

All Spice on the Peninsula has earned a Michelin star for the past three years, one year after it opened.  Chopra’s richly flavored, highly complex sauces are based on traditional French technique, enriched by his training at Daniel in New York City and his combined experiences at a number of Indian restaurants in New York and California.  Chopra fine-tuned his style by incorporating key ingredients and flavors to develop recipes combining lots of spices with simple bases and developing flavor through long, slow cooking.  The balance he brings to his food is a testament to his palate and practiced hand, resulting in a style that is modern, elegant and expressive.  

For more information, visit www.allspicerestaurant.com.  Media contact: Susie Biehler, 415-987-7929, susie@biehler.com.  

Palace Hotel Reinvents Tradition with Tea Time and Saturday Signature Tea

In 1910, daily tea service was inaugurated at the Palace Hotel. The corridors of the Garden Court were crowded with guests who celebrated the first day of this innovation with great enthusiasm.  For 105 years, the tradition has continued. For the past few decades, tea has been served only on Saturdays with increased service over the holidays. This Saturday signature experience continues with a fresh new attitude. In addition, the Palace has improved on this long standing tradition by adding a more contemporary daily service in the GC Lounge, a newly opened evening venue for cocktails, food, and conversation in the dining room.   

Tea Time is offered in the GC Lounge on Sunday through Friday at 2-5 p.m.  Service is refined but is a little less formal. An a la carte menu showcases locally sourced items.  Reservations are not required.

Signature Tea, served exclusively on Saturdays at 2-5 p.m. in the Garden Court, is a one-of-a-kind experience.  Service is stylized, curated and elegant.  Fine china and silver are used to present delicate tea sandwiches, house made scones, Devonshire cream, lemon curd and fruited jam.  A variety of teas is offered from classic blends to creative infusions. Reservations preferred.  For reservations visit www.opentable.com or call 415-546-5089.  Menus and more information are available at www.sfpalace.com.   Media contact: Renée Roberts, 415-407-7424, renee@reneerobertspr.com.

Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory Reopens After Extensive Renovation 

The Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory at Ghirardelli Square, (900 North Point St.).   The Manufactory recently underwent an extensive two month renovation. The shop has reopened and offers guests the original Ghirardelli experience with a fresh new look while keeping the same heritage look and feel that families have come to know.

More than 160 years of Ghirardelli heritage is celebrated at the Original Ghirardelli Chocolate Manufactory. The location holds the original manufactory equipment, which first came to Ghirardelli Square in 1893. The walls inside the shop are now lined with artwork and artifacts direct from Ghirardelli’s vaults, including original packaging from the 1800s through the early 1900s and rare photos from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The displays have been carefully curated, telling the story of the Ghirardelli heritage and its impact in the city.    

Guests can enjoy the Ghirardelli World Famous Hot Fudge Sundae, shakes and hot cocoa, and a full line of espresso beverages at the Manufactory. In addition to a delicious assortment of chocolates and beautifully wrapped gifts, the store now carries a full, expanded selection of exclusive Ghirardelli Artisan Chocolatier products, made fresh daily in San Francisco at Ghirardelli Square. Even sweeter, each guest is greeted with a complimentary sample of their signature Ghirardelli SQUARES™ chocolate.  For more information, visit www.ghirardelli.com.  Media contact: Julie Richter, 415-296-0677, julier@charleszukow.com.     

Calistoga Winery JAX Vineyards Opens Urban Tasting Room in the Heart of SOMA, San Francisco

Cult winery JAX Vineyards has made a brazen move to 326 Brannan St. in the hot SOMA district of San Francisco. Contributing to the very neighborhood where their family had been entrepreneurs for four generations, sibling owners Kimberly and Trent Jackson tapped their childhood friend Brian Koch, founder of Terra Ferma Landscapes, to help execute their vision of an urban tasting room oasis.  Having transplanted an 18-foot olive tree and 50-year-old JAX estate vines around a sleek, sizzling fire pit, the new tasting room and event space offers the ultimate Napa Valley experience without the commute.

Opening their doors in September 2014, the JAX team has brought the tasting room to life. “We are an established Calistoga winery making serious wines.  The wine industry is very saturated so we decided to offer a completely new twist to the Napa Valley hospitality experience” explains co-founder Kimberly Jackson. 

Situated just two blocks from AT&T Ballpark, the new tasting room is one of the hottest up-and-coming destinations to grab a glass of wine, flight or bottle with friends during Wednesday through Friday Happy Hour. Pouring a wine portfolio crafted by globally renowned winemaker Kirk Venge and sourced from Napa Valley and Sonoma County, guests can taste through an array of varietals that tell the story of JAX.

Established in 1996, JAX Vineyards is a family owned, family run boutique winery in Calistoga.  Siblings Kimberly and Trent Jackson pay homage to their agricultural heritage by using premium grapes to create cult status wines, all while embracing a very chic, young, and urban image.  Total production is 9,000 cases distributed in more than 20 states.  For more information on the JAX Vineyards, visit jaxvineyards.com/jax-tasting-room/jax-vineyards-tasting-room.html. Media contact: Jamie Lynn Evans, jamie@jaxvineyards.com, 415-446-9505. 

Singing Chef Has a Green Thumb at Trattoria Pinocchio in North Beach

At Trattoria Pinocchio, 401 Columbus Ave. in North Beach, Giovanni Zocca is more than the singing Italian chef in the kitchen, coming out to serenade the guests.  He left Sicily when he was 17 years old and has worked in the fishing and restaurant industry all of his life in Italy, Monterey and San Francisco. In recent years, he has discovered the joys of being in his garden. He grows mint for mojitos, Sicilian garlic and rosemary for the potatoes, cases and cases of basil and plenty of tomatoes for sauces, arugula, lettuce, lemons, apples and more. The entire Zocca family (Giovanni, Maria, Sophia, Antonio, Fausto, Mariano, Catarino and the staff) welcome guests to enjoy house-made ravioli, gnocchi, lasagna, fettuccine, pappardelle and thin crust pizza.  The Sicilian marinated lemon-garlic crab is a family favorite.  Specialties also include house made Italian desserts and signature cocktails. For more information, visit www.trattoriapinocchio.com.   Media contact: Maria Zocca, maricaza@gmail.com.

HOTELS 

Hilton Worldwide Expands Portfolio in San Francisco with Acquisition of Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco – Union Square

On Feb. 18, 2015, Hilton Worldwide announced the closing of the acquisition of Parc 55 Wyndham San Francisco - Union Square. The property, which will be renamed Parc 55 San Francisco a Hilton Hotel, 55 Cyril Magnin St., adds 1,024 guest rooms, 54 suites and more than 30,000 square feet of meeting and function space to Hilton’s existing portfolio of San Francisco hotels. 

“Parc 55 complements its new sister hotel, Hilton San Francisco Union Square in one of the world’s most desirable gateway destinations,” said Keith Clampet, senior vice president of hotel operations at Hilton Worldwide. “With a contemporary design geared for both corporate and leisure guests, the hotel is an exceptional addition to our group of high-quality properties in the area.” 

Parc 55 will be managed by the existing general manager of the property, John LaFortune. Boasting 23 meeting rooms featuring dramatic views of the city, advanced audiovisual equipment and a business center with free Wi-Fi and fax, copy and printing services, the hotel is ideal for groups of 10-700. Coupled with Hilton San Francisco Union Square, the two properties will be able to attract and accommodate larger groups with nearly 3,000 rooms and 165,000 square feet of functional meeting space combined.   Featuring artwork throughout the hotel lobby created by artists Sydney Bridges and Alex Garcia, Parc 55 boasts 1,024 accommodating guest rooms and 54 expansive suites. A full-service 24-hour fitness center, 55 Fitness, offers high-tech cardio and weight equipment allowing guests on the road to stay on target with fitness routines. Additional amenities include a 135-space parking garage with a Juice Bar for automobile charging and an array of dining options including authentic Thai eatery, Kin Khao, Cable 55 Restaurant which features innovative American cuisine and grab-and-go style Barbary Coast. For more information, visit http://www.parc55hotel.com/.  Media contact:  Scott Baublitz, scott.baublitz@hilton.com, 415-923-5085.  Hilton Worldwide:  David Trumble, 602-870-2721, david.trumble@hilton.com or Jacqueline Toppings, 703-883-6587, jacqueline.toppings@hilton.com.  

New Park Central Hotel San Francisco Offers Luxury and Location  

Park Central Hotel San Francisco, 50 Third St., has officially debuted as the city’s newest hotel, taking over the former Westin Market Street at the confluence of Union Square and SOMA.  LaSalle Hotel Properties, which has officially purchased the AAA Four Diamond hotel, has announced plans for a seamless transition of the former Starwood property to an independent, distinctive, guest-centric hotel.  The property is one of the newest additions to the Highgate Hotels collection, a distinguished industry leader in hospitality management.  The design and hospitality concept of the new Park Central Hotel San Francisco will be modeled after its sister property, the historic Park Central Hotel in New York City, which recently completed renovations by the same owner.    

The 36-story Park Central Hotel San Francisco will attract discerning leisure and business travelers seeking a spirited and authentic San Francisco experience that centers on providing an elevated level of personalized service.  The hotel’s 681 spacious rooms boast sweeping views of downtown San Francisco, complemented by stylish, modern décor and well-appointed furnishings and amenities.  

Situated in the city’s epicenter just off bustling Market Street in the SOMA culture and arts district, and walking distance to Union Square and its many attractions, the Park Central Hotel San Francisco provides unrivaled access to some of the city’s best cultural attractions, entertainment, nightlife, dining and shopping, including Moscone Center, the Jewish Contemporary Museum, Yerba Buena Gardens, the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (closed until 2016), Union Square, Maiden Lane, Westfield San Francisco Centre and AT&T Park.

The hotel’s current amenities will remain in place, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, pet-friendly policy, The Murano Room for private dining, extensive meeting and event space and an expansive outdoor patio.  The hotel’s on-site restaurant, MaSo, will continue offering guests locally sourced California cuisine by Executive Chef John Hart.  

The hotel will remain open during the transition and upgrades and will honor all existing Westin Market Street reservations and event bookings.  For further information, visit www.parkcentralsf.com or call 888-627-8561.  Media contacts: Nicole Kraft, Allison Frazier and Evan Nicholson, Glodow Nead Communications, 415-394-6500 or NicoleK@glodownead.com.

Villa Florence Hotel Introduces Phased Multi-Million Dollar Makeover 

Located in downtown San Francisco in the heart of Union Square, Villa Florence, 225 Powell St., introduces a new multi-million dollar look featuring a contemporary Italian-inspired appearance and ambiance. The first phase unveils an extensive transformation of the hotel’s 182 guest rooms and corridors and adds seven new guest rooms, totalling 189 rooms. The second phase will include the lobby and meeting areas. 

Sporting its new look and product, Villa Florence will be the only contemporary Italian-inspired boutique hotel in San Francisco offering an authentic downtown San Francisco experience. Inspired by the concept of a modern day villa off a Florentine Palazzo, the design embraces a bold, distinct, and timeless infusion of elegance and sophistication. Building upon a legacy of evolving Italian design, the hotel’s new interiors draw from the high fashion inspiration of Florence showcasing a neutral color palette infused with texture and high contrast color accents. Each guestroom highlights the uniqueness of the building’s architecture, featuring one-off pieces in each room, while the portraits in the guestroom corridors are inspired by the Renaissance and evoke the spirit of art, literature, and learning.  Small touches accent the guest experience. Upon arrival, guests receive a custom check-in experience with authentic treats like Biscotti and Limoncello.

The hotel’s restaurant, Kuleto’s, is a well-known San Francisco institution featuring authentic Northern Italian cuisine, caters to Villa Florence’s private dining events and provides nightly room-service to its guests. Additional amenities include Bar Norcini, located at the hotel’s entrance, a business center, an exercise/fitness room and friendly staff. 

Originally erected for bridge-builders, the building has a rich history with a quirky personality. In 1909, the structure became Hotel Manx and during Prohibition was the location for a speakeasy.

For more information, visit www.villaflorence.com or call 415-397-7700.  Media contact:  Ruchika Jain, 415-986-7212, rjain@graham-associates.com

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (SFO)

Turkish Airlines Starts Nonstop Service to Istanbul                                                                                                 

Turkish Airlines plans to launch service from SFO to Istanbul on April 13, 2015, with flights operating five days per week to Istanbul using a Boeing 777 aircraft. The flag carrier of Turkey plans to increase service to daily flights on May 11, 2015.

Turkish Airlines, the national flag carrier of Turkey, is the fourth-largest carrier in the world by destinations served, with flights to more than 200 international locations. For the fourth year in a row, Turkish Airlines was named this year as the “Best Airline in Europe” by SkyTrax, an independent international agency that monitors the aviation industry and whose aviation benchmarking surveys are considered among the most reliable in the world.

Flights between SFO and Istanbul will be operated using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft seating a total of 337 passengers, made up of 28 business class and 309 economy class seats.

SFO Ranked #1 for “Best Airport Staff in North America” by SkyTrax

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been named the #1 airport in North America for customer service in the SkyTrax Passengers’ Choice Awards for 2015. SFO took the top spot in the “Best Airport Staff in North America” category, followed by Denver and Vancouver airports. SFO also ranked fourth in the “Best Airports Worldwide (40 million to 50 million passengers)” and “Best Airports in North America” categories.

The annual SkyTrax survey is regarded as the most respected study of airport quality around the world.  For the 2015 awards, SkyTrax compiled more than 13 million survey questionnaires completed by 112 different customer nationalities from May 2014 to January 2015. The survey covered 550 airports worldwide, evaluating the travel experience from a variety of factors, including check-in, arrivals, departures, transfers, shopping, security and immigration.

SFO Creates, Licenses Tracking System for App-Based Ground Transportation

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) announced the development and licensing of a system which tracks app-based forms of ground transportation in an airport environment.  The system, which tracks properly-equipped vehicles operating within a GPS “geo-fence” area, will be licensed through the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) for use at other airports around the United States.

“We are proud to be an industry leader, by creating a solution for tracking app-based airport ground transportation,” said Airport Director John L. Martin.  “We appreciate the partnership with the AAAE to make this system available to airports across the United States.”

“AAAE delivers service, innovation and results for our members,” AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli said.  “We congratulate San Francisco on its groundbreaking efforts with app-based transportation companies and we are proud to bring this elegant revenue tracking solution to airports all across the country.”

The tracking system developed by SFO allows airports with a GPS “geo-fence” to tabulate the amount of activity generated by app-based forms of ground transportation.  This data can be used for fee calculation, roadway planning and facility improvement efforts.

On March 10, 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the license and service agreement between SFO and the Airport Research and Development Foundation (ARDF), a non-profit corporation formed by the airport trade association American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). Under the proposed license and service agreement, the ARDF would be able to enter into agreements and implement the tracking system at other U.S. airports.

SFO Scores Multiple Awards for Concessions, Amenities

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has been honored with multiple awards for its concessions and amenities programs in the Airport Revenue News (ARN) 2015 Best Airport & Concession Awards program.  SFO was honored with the following awards:

  • Best Overall Concessions Program
  • Amenities Program – Large Airport
  • Best Concession Management Team

Airport Revenue News has been recognizing airport excellence since 1995.  Awards for 2015 were announced on the final night of the ARN Revenue Conference & Exhibition held in San Diego.  A record number of votes were cast for the awards.

In January 2014, SFO launched an innovative “pop-up” concession concept in its newly-renovated Terminal 3, Boarding Area E.  The concept allowed small businesses representing the San Francisco Bay Area to gain access to the Airport, with move-in ready facilities designed to reduce the initial start-up costs that challenge many small businesses.

Media contact: Doug Yakel, San Francisco International Airport, Doug.Yakel@flysfo.com, 650-821-4000.