Team Bios

Team Biographies



Jonah Buffa
Owner, Fellow Barber
Founder & Director, VCMA

A long time SF resident and Bay Area native, Jonah started Fellow Barber in 2010 with his brother. He’s lived on and off in the Mission, bartended at a number of bars in the neighborhood and played music, touring in a few bands. He’s happy to be a part of the VCMA Board and serve the community and neighborhood.

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Greg D’alesandre
Owner, Dandelion Chocolate
Founder & Director, VCMA

Greg has been working with chocolate for over 15 years, and making bean to bar chocolate for the last few. He started making liquid nitrogen truffles in college with “borrowed” equipment from the physics lab. He’s been with Dandelion Chocolate for over 4 years as partial owner and Chocolate Sourcerer, traveling the world to find great cacao to use to make great chocolate. He feels strongly about direct sourcing cacao and building strong relationships with the network of cacao producers and chocolate makers around the world.

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Benny Weiner
Owner, Benny Gold
Founder & Director, VCMA

Benny is an independent graphic designer and signature clothing brand. The brand started from just a simple sticker that was posted around town on his days off. Over the past decade it’s grown from a small side project into one of the industry’s most celebrated labels. As a brand, we emphasize the importance of staying true to your passions, growing up without growing old, and a strong DIY work ethic. He has lived in the Mission for over a decade and operated a retail store just a few block from his house for almost as long.

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Haley Lynn

Haley Lynn
Owner, Five and Diamond
Secretary, VCMA

Haley Lynn has lived in SF for over 10 years, in the Mission for over 5 years, has managed Five and Diamond for 6 years, and as of 2013 is the secretary of the VCMA.

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Tyler MacNiven
Owner, West of Pecos
Director, VCMA

Tyler started working in his parents’ restaurant, Buck’s in Woodside, when he was 13. He’s traveled the world making documentaries but has always come back to the restaurant business. Tyler and his brothers opened West of Pecos on Valencia in 2012, just two blocks from their home. The restaurant is an homage to their love for the southwest, particularly New Mexico, where they frequented on family road trips growing up.

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Jefferson McCarley
Manager, Mission Bicycle
Director, VCMA

Jefferson has managed Mission Bicycle Company since 2010 and has been actively involved with the VCMA since its inception. He’s a Mission resident for coming up on a decade and an advocate for the business community and the neighborhood.

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bio-pic-laika-jpJonathan Plotzker
Owner, Heliotrope Skin Care (available at Acacia)
Treasurer, VCMA

Nice Jewish Boy from The Bronx packs up his NY neuroses, moves to SF, and makes it big in The Mission. After 30+ years of retail – both big and small – JP co-founded Heliotrope San Francisco, an all-natural, locally made skincare line. After working for years at Williams-Sonoma, Bare Escentuals, Restoration Hardware and Good Vibrations (another local favorite on Valencia), it was time to start something from scratch, and source everything locally. All of Heliotrope’s products are made in the SF Bay Area. In 2012, we moved our Noe Valley shop to Valencia St, joining forces with another local brand, Acacia – which offers well-curated home decor and accessories. JP lives nearby in Kite Hill (which you”ve never heard of) with his dog Laika (no, she’s not named after the camera, but thanks for asking). Laika makes a particularly good shop dog, and will welcome your visit.

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Sean Quigley Sean P. Quigley
Founder, Paxton Gate & Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids
President, VCMA

If Paxton Gate owner Sean Quigley had his way, it would be 1880. Hop on a horse, find land, stake a claim, build a house, pan for gold, and voilà. This might have something to do with growing up in a Northern CA town named Happy Valley. Though it sounds like a name dreamt up by an ad man working on Madison Avenue, it is a place where his family raised its own food and livestock, built barns and where kids were free to roam through woods for fun, literally miles from home.

He moved to the Bay in ‘89 and after graduating from SF State in ‘92 started his businesses, the original retail store and his design/build company, that same year. He spent the next 14 years working as a bartender at a number of Mission bars including Dr. Bombay’s, Casa Nova and Kilowatt while patiently building his company which he moved to Valencia in 1999. In 2008 he opened his 3rd business, Paxton Gate’s Curiosities for Kids.

If you ask Quigley, he’ll say he was “strong-armed” into taking on the role of VCMA President in January 2012. In truth, founder Deena Davenport had dedicated over two years to the role and wanted to pass the torch to someone else. Seeing himself as more of a behind-the-scenes guy Quigley changed the organizational make-up of the VCMA and created the first board, distributing the duties previously held almost entirely by Davenport. Moving forward he endeavors to set up non-profit status for the organization, attain recognition city-wide for the VCMA’s merchant members, secure more exposure for the corridor, and continue to support the VCMA and its mission.

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eileenEileen Rinaldi
Founder, Ritual Coffee Roasters
Vice-President, VCMA

Eileen Rinaldi is the founder and owner of Ritual Coffee Roasters, a San Francisco-based coffee company with four retail coffee bars. Ritual at 1026 Valencia opened in 2005 and is responsible for putting San Francisco on the map for coffee. And as fanatical as she is about coffee, Eileen is just as passionate about small business.

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