Congratulations to the 2023 Gellert Family Business Award Winners, Ace Mailing, Cumaica Café, and Sweet Joanna’s Café for exemplifying the best of San Francisco family business.
Ace Mailing, a San Francisco-based third-generation business, has been offering full-service direct marketing solutions since its inception in 1977. Owner Gwen Kaplan, with her mother and husband’s support, established the company with a mission to provide exceptional direct marketing services—passionate advocates for economic development programs. Gwen Kaplan’s sons, Miles, and Mathew Kaplan are carrying the family legacy forward and also adapting to the evolving needs of the mailing and advertising industry.
Quote from the owner: “Be willing to learn from your failures and strive for excellence.”
Roberto Guerrero, a native of Nicaragua, founded Cumaica’s Coffee House to bring Latin American family-style service to San Francisco. Guerrero’s passion for coffee began with his grandfather’s coffee plantation, where he learned the art of coffee. Guerrero has transformed Cumaica into a beloved neighborhood destination. The business is also an advocate for people with Down’s syndrome and employs them to help change public perceptions about the capacity within the physically challenged community.
Quote from the owner: “Leadership is about discipline, accountability, and not just authority.”
Sweet Joanna’s Cafe is a beloved downtown San Francisco Cafe famous for its breakfast, lunch, salad bar, and catering. It’s a popular spot for USF graduate students and was founded by Joseph Abughosh in 1992. Abughosh holds the conviction that Sweet Joanna transcends mere business; instead, it stands as a familial establishment crafted upon aspirations and enjoyment.
Quote from the owner. “Thank you, USF Gellert, Family Business Center, for empowering us.”
Congratulations to the 2022 Gellert Family Business Award winners, Beck’s Motor Lodge and Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory for exemplifying the best of San Francisco family business.
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is the 2022 Gellert Family Business Awardee in the hospitality category. Founded in 1962, Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory is one of the last remaining fortune cookie manufacturers specializing in hand folding techniques. The company is currently managed by Kevin Chan, whose mother and uncle opened it more than fifty years ago. In 2016, the firm was recognized with the official status of a “San Francisco Legacy Business”.
Beck’s Motor Lodge is the 2022 Gellert Family Business Awardee in the general category. Beck’s Motor Lodge has been a fixture in San Francisco’s Castro District since 1958, providing a safe place for repeat and first-time guests, combining an inviting atmosphere with reasonable prices. What impressed USF students who researched this business during the fall 2021 semester was the company’s routine support of families, whose loved ones are visiting UC Medical Center’s Davies campus hospital and clinic. Students noted that Beck’s ongoing community engagement was key in distinguishing family-owned from non-family owned hotels.
Congratulations to the 2021 Gellert Family Business Award winners, Miyako Old Fashion Ice Cream and Mendel’s for exemplifying the best of San Francisco family business.
As the owner of Miyako Old Fashion Ice Cream, Tom Bennett has spent the last 30 years, offering his own rendition of ice creams from around the world. Blending traditional fruits with all natural products, Miyako’s, authentic ice cream is a major draw to Fillmore Street. What particularly impressed the USF students who studied this business during the fall 2020 semester was the company’s longevity and pride in retaining its small business customer service attitude.
Since its 1960’s inception, Mendel’s has been a Haight neighborhood anchor. Established by husband and wife duo, Mendel and Sarah Herscowitz, under the direction of its third generation owner, Naomi Silverman, Mendel’s focusses selling art and craft supplies. Naomi hopes that her son will be interested in taking the firm over some day. Mandel’s prides itself on its proactive approach toward generating job opportunities for local residents as well as its values-driven commitment to community empowerment.
Congratulations to the 2019 Gellert Family Business Award winners, Fresca and Jones Protective Services for exemplifying the best of San Francisco family business.
Fresca owners Julio, Jose, and Ivan Calvo Perez have been offering visitors their own take on Peruvian cuisine for 32 years.
Each dish is steeped in rich history and made with authentic ingredients. Their blend of traditional style with a lively gastronomic approach has ignited a passion in diners that paved the way for San Francisco’s Peruvian restaurant boom. Customers rave about Fresca’s bottomless mimosas, fantastic customer service and amazing food.
But what truly impressed the USF students who spent time working with this business in the Fall 2018 semester was the company’s regular provision of food and services to local shelters. Their outstanding community engagement truly sets them apart. Congratulations Julio, Jose, and Ivan!
Nominated by Multiforum Advocacy Solutions business owner, Lucy Quancinella. The motto of Jones Protective Services is “SPIRIT”—Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork. They’ve embodied these values since their establishment in 2004. Since then, the firm has partnered with local clients to provide safe and secure environments for events, retail centers, and more.
Their proactive approach to generating job opportunities and community engagement sets them apart. Owner Herman Jones is an active member of his local Rotary Club. He enthusiastically supports his employees’ involvement in neighborhood cleanups and other service projects.
Thank you to Herman and Jones Protective Services for their work empowering and protecting our community. Congratulations!
Congratulations to the 2018 Gellert Family Business Award recipients, The Good Life Grocery and Micro-Tracers, who were presented with their awards in May at the annual Gellert Award Reception at USF.
In 1974, a group of Potrero Hill friends opened The Good Life Grocery on a shoe-string budget and a dream. The store operated out of a small storefront on 18th Street during its first 12 years. When a 1,000 percent rent increase threatened its future, the Potero Hill community rallied to save it. While the grocery was still evicted in 1985, it found a new home and re-opened on 20th Street in 1986, where it has been ever since. In 2000, owners, Kayren Hudiburgh and Lester Zeidman purchased the building, securing The Good Life Grocery’s place in the neighborhood for years to come. Today, The Good Life Grocery is an employee-owned company with over 70 employees, proudly serving both the Potrero Hill and Bernal Heights communities.
Micro-Tracers was founded in 1961 by Dr. Sylvan Eisenberg, a PhD chemist out of Stanford University. Company governance has now transitioned to the second generation under Dr. Eisenberg’s son, David. Micro-Tracers, Inc. is the only company in the world that focuses on manufacturing quality assurance analytical tracers, primarily used in the animal feed industry. The firm also produces colored corn cob grits for coding commercial and research feeds as well as selenium sources for use in the manufacture of animal feed premixes. The company is part of a group including Anresco, Inc., a commercial analytical laboratory that provides analytical, consulting, and research services to the food industry.
Congratulations! Twilight Café and Mix’Coatl are honored for exemplifying the best in San Francisco family business.
Mix’Coatl a Mexican handmade art and craft store, located at the corner of 24th Street and South Van Ness, in the heart of the Mission District. The owners, Connie Rivera and Ricardo Pena, established the business 20 years ago to support their family. As immigrants, the Riveras keep their culture alive by selling seasonal Mexican arts and crafts products, with a special focus on face masks. As owners, they intentionally incorporate family values of integrity, honesty and healthy human relations in their business. With a customer base primarily comprised of parents and area youth, Mix’Coatl’s custom masks are a hit with everyone.
Yes, Virginia, you can still get a meal in San Francisco for under $15! Twilight Café has long been a prime hangout for USF students and the adjacent Lone Mountain/Laurel Heights community. Its informal atmosphere and availability for breakfast, lunch, and dinner have made it a popular neighborhood-serving (and USF faculty- and student-friendly) establishment. In the mid-2000s, daughter Joanna Fox assumed the reins of this mid-1970s establishment from her parents. Born in Aleppo, Antoinette and Pierre assured that Joanna and her brothers, Joe and George, could carry on the family’s Syrian traditions. Their family-oriented menu offers tasty, light Mediterranean fare, including gluten-free options.
Cumaica Café and Sweet Joanna’s Café
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Becks Motor Lodge
|2021||Miyako Old Fashion Ice Cream||Mendel's|
|2019||Fresca Restaurant||Jones Protective Services|
|2018||Good Life Grocery||Micro-Tracers Inc.|
|2017||Twilight Café & Deli||Mix’Coatl Arts & Crafts|
|2016||ChaChaCha-Haight||Navarro’s Martial Arts Academy|
|2015||Henry’s House of Coffee||Aunt Ann’s Staffing|
|2014||Java Beach Café||Harrington Galleries|
|2013||Kathy’s California Chinese Cuisine||Kel-Toy Inc.|
|2012||Casa Sanchez||Diamonds in the Rough|
|2011||Belvedere House||MOET Institute|
|2010||Bi-Rite Foodservices Distributors||Marcus Books|