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San Francisco business owner says he was punched in face after confronting peeing man

Sandy’s Muffs' menu centers on the muffuletta, a New Orleans-style sandwich. | Source: Courtesy Peterson Harter/Sandy's

A Haight Street business owner took to Instagram to say he had been attacked outside his muffuletta shop on Wednesday night after confronting a man peeing on trash cans near the store.

Peterson Harter, co-owner of Sandy's Muffs sandwich shop, addressed the shop's Instagram followers in a post where he appeared to have a black eye.

"I can't believe I live in a city where people just pissin' the street and come and punch you in the face and get away with it," said Harter, whose forehead appeared to be cut open. "The guy just ran off. They're probably not gonna find him. I'm fucking fed up with this goddamn city. I can't just be outside and just running a fucking business without getting punched in the goddamn face.

"This isn't how our city should be," Harter said. "I hope they find the fucking guy."

On Thursday, Harter took a more optimistic tone, telling The Standard it is part of the risks of being a citizen and running a small business, but still unexpected given his familiarity with many homeless people, who never give him or his business any issues.

Harter said last week had been a success for the business after outreach to Grateful Dead fans attending the final Dead & Company shows paid off, making the attack feel more jarring.

"That's why this is so unfortunate, because it's like we had such an incredible week on the street and in the city, with all these people coming into town just having a great time. And then this happens, you know, it's just like a black eye on the weekend."

If police find the man who attacked him, Harter said he wants him to do community service cleaning up the street outside, rather than going to jail.

According to San Francisco police data, officers responded within seven minutes to a reported battery just after 5:30 p.m. at Haight and Ashbury streets, but police did not immediately to an email requesting confirmation that the attacks were one and the same. The video was posted to Instagram around 6 p.m. Wednesday evening. The store is located close to the Haight and Ashbury street intersection, at 1457 Haight St.

In a statement Thursday, police confirmed the attack, saying no arrests have been made.

Despite his visible frustrations, Harter told viewers he hoped they were doing well before tagging Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Dean Preston in his post. Newsom and Breed did not respond to requests for comment by publication time.

On Thursday, Preston told The Standard he spoke to Harter to learn more and offer assistance, and added that San Francisco police told him officers received a report and were working to obtain video.

"It’s completely unacceptable that a business owner would be attacked like this, and our office is committed to making residents, visitors and businesses as safe as possible," Preston said. "To that end, we have worked to expand community ambassador coverage in the neighborhood and get new businesses to fill empty storefronts, and Sandy’s has been a wonderful addition to the Haight. It’s heartbreaking that the owner would be attacked like this, and we will continue to make sure they get the support they need."

"They're in charge of the city," Harter said Thursday. "I think they should know us small-business owners are being assaulted on the streets. You know, I mean, they're not directly responsible, but if I was in charge, I would want to know. The only way to get change is to have these conversations, and unfortunately, sometimes getting punched in the face is the way to have that conversation."

From left, Moni Frailing and Ali Jenson make muffuletta sandwiches at Sandy's Muffulettas during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on Sept. 30, 2022. | Source: Brian Feulner for The Standard

The sandwich shop, which launched as a pop-up in the spring of 2021 selling New Orleans-style muffuletta sandwiches with delicious thinly sliced meats and savory cheeses, found a home last fall, steps from the iconic Haight-Ashbury intersection after an online fundraising campaign drew thousands of dollars from would-be customers, hungry to see Harter and fellow veteran restaurant worker and partner Moni Frailing succeed.

Its doors opened in April, two years after its first pop-up at a Laurel Heights market.