Tenderloin Tessie
Feeding the Hungry in San Francisco for Over 40 Years!

For over 40 years, Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, an all-volunteer organization, has fed the community of San Francisco on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. We work hard to prepare a bountiful meal, a smile and a gift to all of our patrons in a welcoming environment. Our dinners average a thousand people each holiday and take place at the First Unitarian Church at the corner of Franklin Street and Geary Boulevard. Everyone is welcome!


Tessie was the drag name of Perry Spink, a local performer/bartender who was very familiar with the people and character of the Tenderloin District in San Francisco during the 60’s and 70’s. Legend has it that on Thanksgiving in 1974, he received several turkeys and was inspired to cook and serve them to the local Tenderloin residents (with the help of less-than-sober bar buddies). It was a gesture that showed the San Francisco Community that no matter who you were; there was someone who cared.

The dinners continued on a monthly basis for a while. It was a Godsend for the little blue haired women of the neighborhood who were trying to live off meager social security checks. These dinners, served on the last Thursdays of the month, garnered Tessie many honors and she earned the title of Empress 15 in 1980.

Along with the dinners, Tessie started the tradition of giving gift bags along with the meals, a tradition that lives on today. These bags contain donated items such as toiletries, socks, gloves and an assortment of non-perishable food.

Sadly, Tessie died in 1984 but the meals continued on an uneven basis. Three years later, the name Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners was created and the meals became a holiday tradition on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. They were served at a church on the corner of Eddy and Gough and began focusing on the needs of those suffering form AID’s and the growing number of homeless throughout the city.

The meals were a very satisfying way to help the community, but were becoming very large and were a great deal of work and stress for the few volunteers who loosely made up the board at the time. The program suffered a severe blow when the church burned to the ground in 1995. With the board in limbo and no place to stage the meals, many members felt it was time to move on.

A new board came together and the meals were moved to the present location, the First Unitarian Universalist church on Franklin and Geary. Since that time, the organization has become a non-profit and is stronger than ever and always mindful of the original mission of Tenderloin Tessie to help anyone in need. Everyone is welcome at our meals!

Board Members

Michael Gagne


Anicia Leon-Weil

Vice President

David Tejeda


Martha Anne Vielle

Events Planner

Alex Upchurch

Recording Secretary

Bonnie Bibas

Partnership & Grants Coordinator

Marilyn Murrillo

Grants Administrator

Miki Mettinger

Member At Large

Jim Valent

Member At Large

Jim "Pushy Biesner"

Honorary Member

Linda Ostrom

Honorary Member

Chris Ostrom

Honorary Member

Denise Gindoy

Honorary Member

Robert Sparling (deceased)

Role of Honor

Non-Board Appointed Positions

Rex Clark

Volunteer Coordinator

Stephen Johnson



From Our 40th Anniversary Party

Platinum $1,000

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

Gold $500

Hot Cookie
SF Ducal Council
Olivia Travel
Ricky Padilla Graphic Design

Silver $250

Fitness SF
Bruce Agid

Bronze $100

Cruisin' The Castro Walking Tours
Cliff's Variety
Harvey Milk Club
Orphan Andy's
Seth Munter
Twin Peaks Tavern

Other Sponsors


Stephen Johnson

For Web Site, Computer Advice, Electrician, Handyman


Thursday Jan 3, 2019 Meeting At Miki's 7-8:00 PM 86 McAllister Street
Sunday Feb 10, 2019 Martuni's Show featuring Vanessa Bousay
Country Roads
7-8:30 PM Martuni's at 4 Valencia Street
Saturday Feb 23, 2019 Imperial Council - Coronation 54 6-8:30 PM SF Design Center Galleria 101 Henry Adams Street
Saturday Feb 23, 2019 Locker Inventory - Easter 10:00 AM-1:00 PM PM Extra Space Storage
Sunday March 10, 2019 ? SF Eagle Beverage Benefit/td> 3-6:00 PM 398 12th Street @ Harrison Street
Sunday March 10, 2019 Martuni's Show featuring Vanessa Bousay
Luck Be A Lady
7-8:30 PM Martuni's at 4 Valencia Street
Wednesday March 27, 2019 Stuffing Eggs For Easter Egg Pull 7-8:30 PM Michael's House
Friday March 29 to April 21, 2019 Easter Egg Pull In Bars The Cinch, Trax, Hobson's, and xxx
Sunday April 21, 2019 Easter Dinner 1-4 PM First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street
Sunday May 12, 2019 Martuni's Show featuring Vanessa Bousay
Come Ona My House
7-8:30 PM Martuni's at 4 Valencia Street
Sunday June 9, 2019 Martuni's Show featuring Vanessa Bousay
Blondes In A Bar
7-8:30 PM Martuni's at 4 Valencia Street
Sunday June 30, 2019 Collect Money At Gay Pride 10 AM-6 PM Gate On Hayes/Polk Street
Sunday June 30 or July 7, 2019 ? Red, White, & Blue Ducal Event 4-7 PM Aunt Charlie's Lounge
Saturday TBD 2019 ? Imperial Council of SF fundraiser 3-6 PM Beaux on Market Street
Saturday July 27, 2019 ? SF Eagle Beverage Benefit
Dorey Alley Weekend
3-6 PM SF Eagle Bar at 398 12th St
Sunday Aug 18, 2019 ? Ducals Checks
Red, White / Patrick
4-7 PM The Cafe on Market Street
Saturday Aug 24, 2019 ? Pick Up Pride Check 12-3 PM The Chapel - 777 Valencia Street
Sunday Sep 1, 2019 ? SF Eagle Beverage Benefit 3-6 PM SF Eagle Bar at 398 12th St
Saturday Sep 21 or Sep 28, 2019 ? SF Eagle Beverage Benefit 3-6 PM SF Eagle Bar at 398 12th St
Saturday Sep 19, 2019 ? Our Town SF Nonprofit Expo 12:30-4:30 PM Eurica Valley Rec Center
Thursday Oct 30, 2019 Stuffing Turkeys for Turkey Pluck 7 PM Michael's House
Fri-Thurs Nov 1-Nov 28, 2019 Turkey Pluck In Bars - The Cinch, OMG Bar, Trax, and Others
Saturday Nov 2, 2019 Locker Inventory - Thanksgiving 10 AM-1 PM Extra Space Storage
Thursday Nov 28, 2019 Thanksgiving Dinner 1-4 PM First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street
Saturday Nov 30, 2019 Unload The Truck - Thanksgiving
Locker Inventory - Christmas
10 AM-1 PM Extra Space Storage
Friday Dec 7, 2019 ? Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Cabaret Spectacular 5-10 PM TBD
Wednesday Dec 25, 2018 Christmas Dinner 1-4 PM First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street

NOTE: Dates with a Question Mark after them have not been confirmed yet. The Mark will be removed when they are confirmed.
Also, if you would like to volunteer for any of these events, please see our Volunteer Page or call or e-mail Michael.


Michael Gagne

Click Here to Volunteer for Christmas 2018

The Christmas Sign-up Page will be availabe 12/03/18

Dinners are held at:

First Unitarian Church
1187 Franklin St @ Geary

We are looking for some good and hard working Primary Volunteers

Contact Us

Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners
2261 Market St #494
San Francisco, CA 94114

Michael Gagne

All your donations are tax deductable. We are a 501(c)(3) organization.

Tax ID #94-3381288