August 10th, 2022
#LikeALocal Featuring Khalil Sweidy
Each month we feature a local resident and share their favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out in San Francisco. In August we feature one of our neighbors, Khalil Sweidy, with the Masons of California, who host more than 70 LiveNation shows annually at the iconic Masonic Auditorium.
#LikeALocal Insider: Khalil Sweidy
Business/Organization: Masons of California
Title: Director of Financial Planning & Real Estate
Tell us about your business. Why should it be on a San Francisco visitor’s list?
For the past twenty-one years, I have worked for the Masons of California, a non-profit fraternal organization that supports charitable and public education programs throughout the state. Currently, I am the director of financial planning and real estate for the Freemasons of California, and the work I do for the organization is enjoyable and rewarding on so many levels.
The California Masonic Memorial Temple, also known as The Masonic, is an icon of mid-century modernist architecture, located at the top of Nob Hill across the street from grace Cathedral. The building was dedicated in 1958 and has since served as the headquarters for the Freemasons of California. It is also a 3,300-seat entertainment venue, making it the second largest concert hall in San Francisco, after Chase Center. Live Nation, a national concert promoter, operates the masonic auditorium and books up to 79 live music and comedy shows annually. The building, as its name suggests, is a war memorial, and its façade features a sculpture by artist Emile Norman, with the inscription ‘dedicated to our masonic brethren who died in the cause of freedom’.
How long have you lived in the city?
I have lived in the city for fifteen years, all of which have been in Nob Hill, two short blocks from my place of employment.
What do you love about San Francisco?
What I love most about San Francisco is its extreme tolerance to so much, its diversity, the great views, the cool weather year round, how everything is within proximity and the fact that you can walk everywhere (if you want to), the amazing culinary experience, the fun night life, and that you can have just about anything delivered to you in less than one hour, using one of hundreds of smartphone apps.
What makes Nob Hill special to you?
Not only do I live in Nob Hill, but, as I mentioned above, I also work in this district. Nob Hill is my adopted home. Being actively involved with the Nob Hill Association board of directors gives me a sense of community and service. Through the Nob Hill Association and its Foundation, I am fortunate to lead the Huntington Park Committee efforts where we have a long-standing partnership with the City’s Recreation and Park Department to provide grants and funding for various preservation projects to benefit Huntington Park, sponsor movie nights in the park, as well as sponsor the annual holiday tree lighting and other functions throughout the year.
What is something that locals know that visitors may not?
One thing that locals know that visitors may not know is that several movies filmed in the city were filmed in Nob Hill. Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, which is a classic, comes to mind. More recent movies filmed in the neighborhood include Hereafter, Venom 2, Ant Man and the Wasp, and San Andreas. Also, if you are a yoga fanatic, you should join the locals n Tuesday night for a free yoga class at Grace Cathedral. And if you are an ice cream fan, you must make that pilgrimage to Bi-Rite ice cream near Dolores Park. It is well worth it.
If you were helping a first-time visitor to SF plan a trip, what are the top 3 things they MUST do/see/experience?
If I was helping a first-time visitor to SF plan a trip, I would say that the top 3 things they must see, do, or experience besides taking a ride on a cable car or taking the ferry boat to Alcatraz or exploring the Golden Gate Park plaza, would be to walk the Golden Gate Bridge, tour the Ferry Building on a Saturday during Farmers Market hours, or watch a Giants baseball game at Oracle Park or a Warriors basketball game at Chase Center, depending on the season, even if sports is not your thing.
What is a lesser-known attraction that should be on the list?
I think a lesser-known attraction that should be on someone’s list is the newly opened Francisco Park in Russian Hill. It truly is glorious.
What are your favorite three restaurants in the city and why?
My favorite three restaurants in the city have to be Kuma Sushi on Polk Street, LoLinda (Argentinian steakhouse) in the Mission District, and Tacorea in lower nob hill, and all three have a friendly staff and a great vibe. Kuma has the best sushi in town, bar none. LoLinda serves amazing pork chops and beef empanadas.
If you could have dinner with four people of your choosing, who would they be?
The four people I would pick to have dinner with are Stephen Curry, Guy Fieri, Tony Fauci, and Jim Gaffigan.
What are your favorite three bars/nightlife in the city and why?
My favorite bars in the city are Stookey’s, Zeki’s Bar, and Peacemaker, all of which are within walking distance from Nob Hill. What they all have in common is that they serve great cocktails, beers and are lively places. I would be remiss if I did not mention the Tonga Room for its fun Pina Coladas and live music, Top of The Mark for its cocktails and the 360 degrees views of the city, and Buena Vista Cafe at Fisherman’s Warf for serving the best Irish coffee in town.
Favorite destination to travel to (not in San Francisco)?
My favorite destination to travel to is Hawaii, no doubt about it. To me Hawaii is the ultimate heaven on earth destination.
The next bucket list item I check off will be...to go on a long cruise to Alaska and explore the last frontier for a week or two.
Favorite shows you’ve seen at the Masonic Auditorium?
This is such an unfair question LOL, but I consider myself so lucky to have lived so close to the Masonic venue, and I have a passion for live music and comedy shows. I can say that I have seen well over 300 hundred live music and comedy shows during these past fifteen years and have never been disappointed with any of them. Now onto the favorites…! As far as comedy shows are concerned, Ali Wong, Trevor Noah, and Sebastian Maniscalco top that list. As far as music, I would have to say that Kacey Musgraves, Sarah Brightman, Lindsey Stirling, Hozier, Dido, Train, One Republic, First Aid Kit, Metallica, Yanni, Florence and the Machine, and IL Volo top that list.
Your mixtape playlist would include… ‘Take me Home country roads’ by John Denver, ‘Patience’ by Guns N Roses, ‘Living on a Prayer’ by Bon Jovi, ‘Wagon wheel’ by Darius Rucker, and ‘Wish You Were Here’ by Pink Floyd.