Team Bios

Team Biographies

Jonah Buffa
Owner, Fellow Barber
President, 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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Lawrence Lai
Owner, Craftsman & Wolves
Director, VCMA

Lawrence opened Craftsman and Wolves with Chef William Werner in 2012. Originally from Taiwan, Lawrence has been a San Francisco and Bay Area resident for over 30 years. He enjoys the diversity and vibrancy of the Mission district and looks forward to serving on the Board.

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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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bio-pic-laika-jpJonathan Plotzker-Kelly
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
Vice-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
Secretary, 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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Manny Yekutiel
Owner, Manny’s
Director, VCMA

Manny Yekutiel is originally from Los Angeles and first moved to San Francisco in 2010, where he spent a summer raising money on street corners as a canvasser for Equality California. Manny has been a White House Intern in the Office of Public Engagement, a Thomas Watson Fellow studying the LGBT rights movements underway around the world, a field organizer in New Hampshire for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, the chief of staff of, an immigrant reform advocacy group, and was on the finance team for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign.

In December 2016 Manny decided to build a civic gathering space which combined a restaurant, bar, coffee shop, political bookstore, and civic events space. The purpose of the space is to create a physical place to go to become a better informed and more involved citizen. In its first year Manny’s was awarded Small Business of the Year by the California State Senate and has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Rolling Stone magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle. It has served over 55,000 cups of coffee and tea, hosted over 400 civic events for the community, including for over 100 local non-profits and advocacy groups, and has had 16 formerly homeless or incarcerated individuals graduated from the training kitchen run by Farming Hope who now have full time jobs.

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