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 Problems, Electrician and Handyman work


Sunday May 13, 2018 Martuni's Show featuring Vanessa Bousay 7-8:30 PM Martuni's at 4 Valencia Street
Sunday June 24, 2018 Collect Money At Gay Pride 10 AM-6 PM Gate On Hayes/Polk Street
Sunday July 1, 2018 Red, White, & Blue Ducal Event 4-7 PM Aunt Charlie's Lounge
Saturday July 14, 2018 Imperial Council of SF fundraiser 3-6 PM Beaux on Market Street
Sunday Aug 19, 2018 Ducals Check hand out party 4-8 PM The Cafe on Market Street
Sunday Sep 2, 2018 SF Eagle Beverage Benefit 3-6 PM SF Eagle Bar at 398 12th St
Sunday Sep 29, 2018 SF Eagle Beverage Benefit
Folsom Street Fair
3-6 PM SF Eagle Bar at 398 12th St
Saturday Oct 20, 2018 Locker Inventory - Thanksgiving 9 AM-12 Noon Affordable Self Storage
Thursday OCt 24, 2018 Stuffing Turkeys for Turkey Pluck 7 PM Michael's House
Fri-Thurs Oct 26-Nov 22, 2018 Turkey Pluck - The Cinch, OMG Bar, Trax, and Others
Saturday Nov 10, 2018 Imperial Council Fundraiser 4-7 PM Beaux on Market Street
Thursday Nov 22, 2018 Thanksgiving Dinner 1-4 PM First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street
Friday Nov 30, 2018 Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Cabaret Spectacular 6-9 PM First Congregational Church SF, 1300 Polk Street
Saturday Dec 1, 2018 Locker Inventory - Christmas 9 AM-12 Noon Affordable Self Storage
Tuesday Dec 25, 2018 Christmas Dinner 1-4 PM First Unitarian Church, 1187 Franklin Street



Click Here to Volunteer for Thanksgiving 2018

The Christmas 2018 Web Sign-up Form Will be Available after 12/01/2018

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