San Francisco flower shop a total loss after burglary, fire

Sona Pehlivanian picked forlornly Friday on a pile of debris outside the charred, boarded-up remains of her flower shop in San Francisco's Sunset District.

"Oh my gosh! My checkbook!" she exclaimed.

Her business of 35 years, Frank's Floral Shop at 19th and Irving, is a total loss after someone broke in late Sunday or early Monday with a crowbar and apparently set it on fire.

"This person - you did not have to burn it down," she said, struggling to control her emotion. 

Pehlivanian and her shop have been a San Francisco mainstay for decades. She's well-known for her personal touch, from thoughtful flower arrangements to home deliveries to making sure customers get parking.

"I took care of this place as if it was like my child. People know how much I love the place," she said.

Now, Pehlivanian is left with just memories of her work, helping customers through good times and bad.

"I did proms for young people, and then I did their weddings when they grew up. There's so much history," she said.

She got the call from SF Hole in the Wall Pizza next door. A worker told her, "I'm sorry Sona, I'm sorry Sona, your shop is on fire."

Pizza shop owner Awadalla Awadalla says he's stunned.

"It's a horrible thing to do to someone like that. She's never hurt anyone. She's never done anything bad to anyone," Awadalla said.

Aparna Venkatesan believes she was the shop's last customer. She needed flowers for her father's memorial service on Sunday, when the store was supposed to be closed.

"She drove in all the way to open up the shop so the flowers could be fresh that day and not beginning to wilt at home," Venkatesan said. "She'd been so kind during the pickup, and how could something so awful have been up around the corner for her?"