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Storied: San Francisco

May 7, 2024

In this episode, meet and get to know Danny Montoya, who owns and operates Butterfly Joint and Café in the Outer Richmond.
Danny starts his story by letting us know that, growing up, he had family in The City and visited a lot from his various homes in Southern California. He was born in Burbank and grew up in Santa Clarita Valley, where some of his friends still live. He was immersed in punk and skate cultures from a young age, and once he had friends who were old enough to do so, they drove "everywhere" to skate.
His parents, both of whom are from Colombia and met in LA, divorced when Danny was 5. He and his older brother went to live most of the time with their mom in a trailer park. This was Danny's primary residence from age 5 to the beginning of ninth grade, and he says it shaped him deeply.
He started skating at the trailer park when he was 8. At this point, Danny and I go on a sidebar about what skating and skate culture did for us as people. He did a lot of street skating and was one of the younger kids in his crew. He's quick to point out that he was also way into basketball. He skated until he was 10 and didn't pick it up again until high school.
Thanks to a friend, he got into music when he was in junior high. His step dad and mom got married before Danny started high school, and he moved with them to Valencia, California. In his sophomore year, he started skating again and was going to hardcore shows in Hollywood and San Diego.
Danny was the first person in his family to go to college. He says it wasn't a question of whether he'd go, but more of where. It boiled down to SD State vs. SF State, and he chose (wisely, I might add) to come up to The Bay.
Danny's mom gave him and his brother lots of freedom, he says. They went on road trips up here unsupervised several times to visit a friend who lived in the dorms at SF State. And so by the time he entered college, at age 17, he already had friends here. He spent five years at SF State and graduated in 1994.
After earning his bachelor's in Education, Danny worked on getting his teaching credentials. He taught for a couple years at public schools in The City. After that, he did preschool observation at Tule Elk Park Early Education School. The young woman he was dating at the time worked at Live Oak, a private school, and got Danny an after-school job there. Soon, he started subbing at Live Oak while also doing work-study at SF State. He got his credentials and ended up teaching for about a decade.
Check back next week for Part 2 and Danny's story of leaving teaching to start his own woodworking and design studio for children grades kindergarten and up—The Butterfly Joint.
We recorded this podcast at The Butterfly Joint and Café in the Outer Richmond in March 2024.
Photography by Jeff Hunt