Since I've lived in SF (more than 10 years by now), the restaurant located in the corner space at 9th and Folsom has been ill-fated. I don't remember all the past incarnations, but the most recent one was an Asian-fusion place called Lisa's.
Lisa's specialized in drinks made with fruit-infused vodka (lychee, pineapple, strawberry, to name a few), and they displayed their vodka in beautiful glass jars along the window. Alas, the food was insipid, and the drinks were over-priced and watered-down, so I was happy when Lisa's finally closed.
Recently, a place called "Ninth and Folsom" opened in the corner space. Although I work just a few doors down, I have been reluctant to try this place because they also have jars of infused vodka along the window. These jars are identical in shape and content to those previously owned by the failed Lisa's, and I can't help suspecting that the new owners simply bought the leftovers.
Yesterday, however, I went there for lunch and was pleasantly surprised. The place was nearly empty, the service was slow, but the food was pretty good. I ordered the chicken salad sandwich with watercress. The chicken salad was made from fresh chicken, not canned (I don't mean to imply that chicken salad should be made only from fresh chicken - that's just how it was made), and it was mostly dark meat, briney and a bit on the oily side. It had some gristle that really should have been removed, but overall it was tasty, and I would like to eat it again. The watercress was a nice counterpoint, and the whole thing was served on a fresh panini roll.
Best of all were the yam fries that came with my sandwich (most of the lunches come with your choice of salad or fries). The fries were cut thin, perfectly cooked, and topped with sea salt; they were great by themselves and didn't require any ketchup. My sandwich with fries was $7.
My friend ordered the burger, and thought that it was a bit dry. But he ordered it well-done, so I can't help thinking that the dryness was his own fault.
I haven't tried any of the infused vodka drinks, but the yam fries alone are worth a second trip.
Does anyone have any thoughts on why certain spaces are so prone to attracting failed restaurants and businesses?