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Hauling up Cedar out of Little Italy, past the Pioneer Hook and Ladder – hey, didn’t that use to be the firehouse museum? - and crossing Columbia when whack!

Thar she blows! Former assemblywoman Lori Saldaña’s old HQ. Nice old house. They've been refurbishing it. Dust and dirt for months.

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But now, lookee here! This is six at night, and the newly planted garden is bustling with people, sitting at tables, eating, drinking…an old-old washing machine is stacked with coals and burning like a tableside fire pit.

Up along the porch, people stand, laugh, shout, chow, like , wassat famous French painting, oh yeah. Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party.

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That’s what it feels like.

“Queenstown,” says the gold lettering on the window.

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“Community,” says another window. We’re at 1557 Columbia Street, where it meets Cedar (619-546-0444). I head up the front stairs...

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...and into this crowded room with a bar on the left with a backboard that goes right up to the second level. An Indian-style canoe hangs down the wall. So cool.

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Manage to grasp the last available stool. Gal named Angeline comes to take my order.

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Gosh. Just missed happy hour. But I get a nice dark beer, a Port Brown, for $6, and check the menu.

First thing I think is: these people are going for the Craft and Commerce crowd. Same vibe, same simple-but-not-that-cheap fare. Oh, I’m seeing what looks like New Zealand Maori words etched on the backboard mirrors. I knew these guys renovating this house were part of the Bare Back Grill gang. So bottom line, you know they’re going to deliver Kiwi-style grass-fed beef, and organic everything, because that’s what their rep. is based on. Nice to know. But it costs. Like, a kinda lamburger goes for $13. The “Sheila’s Cracked” burger with fried egg is eleven.

But eating light tonight anyway. Check the apps. Hmm. Veggie skillet, $8, chicken on a stick, $9, soup and sammie (“tomato basil soup served witrh pine nut and cream garnish, mozzarella and American grilled cheese”), $9…

D’ah… Talk to Todd and Jennifer, on stools next door.

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He’s just getting his “Queenstown Favorite” burger ($10), and it does look wicked. Big patty with edam cheese all crumbled on top. She just has the mixed greens salad, with strawbs and pine nuts ($8). Looks great. Plus they have a bowl of sweet potato fries with blue cheese crumbles on top ($3.50 for the small, $6 for the large)

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Chris, one of the rushed-off-feet waiters, brings out a giant pretzel on a plate with jalapeño cheese and mustard for somebody nearby.

But that’s $9. Think I’ll get more with the soup and sammie.

I order that...

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...and it slurps down great, sour cream in the middle, with plenty of liquid to dunk the crustless cheese sammies in.

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Love the atmos. Turns out the house has been here since 1905.

“Any stories about it?” I ask Angeline.

“Well, there’s the ghost, named Wanda…” she says confidentially, just before she whips off to a crowd of new customers.

Man. A ghost named Wanda.

Now I’ve gotta come back. With Carla. She’s the Ghostbuster around our house.

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