Do you guys remember this little coffee place at 457 Hyde called Cafe Hurghada? I don’t remember it with any fondness, although that might have just been me. It didn’t seem that anyone in the neighborhood was particularly heart-broken when it closed a couple of months ago (if you were in fact heart-broken and you are reading this, speak up!). Apparently the owner had stopped paying rent a few months back and was forcibly evicted, which explains the big lock and the chain on the door for the past two months.
Thanks to our gossiping inclination every time we drop by Hooker’s (which is right across the street from it), we discovered awhile back that the defunct location was taken over by a new venture, Hyde Away Blues BBQ, a restaurant serving, that thing known as tasty tasty murder: barbecued meat! Not just any barbecue, but “a Memphis-style barbecue with a San Francisco twist, transformed to a new level of wood perfection” as the owners describe it. The menu will feature other delicious
Cajun Southern favorites such as gumbo, jambalaya, biscuits, and sweet potato pie.
We met Mosh, also known as Lil May, a couple of weeks ago at Hooker’s. We hadn’t seen much action on the space until today, though. Lil May, in coveralls, informed us that their tentative opening date is December 1st. This is going to be a family affair comprised of the “Mays”: Big May, Mama May, Sister May, and of course, “Lil May”. The family fixation on meat started with her grandfather, who had a barbecue business for many years in LA called Grand Central BBQ.
Lottie and Tom (before becoming Mama May & Big May), met while studying at SF State in 1968. Shortly after they started a catering company supplying hot lunches to parochial schools. Later, when Lil May was only 6 and her sister was 11, they started a smoke house business in Oakland. She was then “forced” (Lil May always said this with her broad, enveloping smile) into cooking and learning all about the different types of woods for smoking and the meats.
Since 1997 the May family had been running the Celebrity Ballroom in Daly City, where they organized bbq and blues events on Sundays while renting out the space the rest of the week. Big May’s barbecues have apparently won many awards (which will be decorating the Hyde Away along with some blues album covers), but last year he decided to retire. Naturally, you can’t keep a good cook down, so a few months ago he then decided to open another business in Hayward called Big May’s Blues City BBQ. It’s been running as a catering company for the last 5 months, which will soon be a full-fledged restaurant. It will also play in to the cooking plans for the Hyde Away depending on how the almighty permits go.
Lil May also told has that she had been scouting locations for a restaurant in San Francisco for months, and it became clear to her that she wanted to bring the joy and harmony of down-home comfort food to the Tenderloin. For her, food is about getting people together, no matter their background or upbringing. We surely can’t wait for her to spread the good vibes on Hyde street. In the meantime, we’re following the family business on Twitter.
> Update 11/02
We bumped into Lil May today and she was extremely happy with the writeup and thanked all of you Tender readers who are excited about her upcoming BBQ restaurant. As you can see, she was very happy for other reasons, too.