Elbo Room may or may not be turned into condos some day

Mission Local reported over the weekend that plans have been submitted to the city that involve destroying the building and replacing it with a big condo complex. And then in the comments section:

Matt Shapiro, co-owner of Elbo Room, here. We are not going anywhere anytime soon…the building owners (close fiends of ours), submitted a proposal (which has to be public), but are not acting on it….I find it funny that no one bothered to check with us before writing their articles. [link]

Soooo, what’s the deal? Nobody seems to have any ideas why a building owner would go through the process of submitting such a proposal and then decide not to act on it.

[Photos from "Hot Faces" shoot outside Elbo Room, 2010]


Bars on Mission Street at the turn of last century harbored even more mustaches than bars of today

As Patti Dillion explains to the Bernal Heights History Project:

This is a photo of the interior of Dolan’s Bar which was at 3311 Mission St from about 1897 to 1919.  The Dolan Bros were:

  • William T
  • John E – her great grandfather and member of the SFPD
  • Michael H – also of the SFPD
  • Lawrence J – plumber by trade and elected to the CA State Assembly & Sheriff of San Francisco, appointed Sealer of Weights and Measures (second from the left in the photo)

Says Patti: “I’m wondering if someone has a photo of the exterior of the building from about the same time. I would love to see what it looked like back then.”

Can anyone help her out?

The El Rio cat knows how to deal with this frigid weather


Sunny patio, heat lamp, and a Bloody Mary (not pictured) from what just might be the best bar in the city.

Ps. Don’t worry, Knockout! I still love you! I just wish you had a patio, too!

“Pop’s is not going away,” says new owner of Pop’s!

“Let it be known that Pop’s has been around since 1947, and I like old things,” says Michael “Spike” Krouse, the new owner of Pop’s, “Pop’s is not going away.”

Krouse is a longtime San Franciscan and a longtime SF bartender and bar owner, having worked at several bars all over town before taking over ownership of Madrone Lounge (and reinventing it as the now very acclaimed Madrone Art Bar) about 5 years back. It came to our attention today that he is the new owner of Pop’s right here in the Mission! So, we asked for a Q&A, and he was into it:

Mission Mission: In general, and specifically in San Francisco, what makes a bar a good one?

Spike: A good bar to me is all about AUTHENTICITY. I came to San Francisco because I wanted to be in a place that was unique to everywhere else. I expect the same things from the places I eat and drink at. That’s what makes them special. It can be divey or fancy as long as it’s authentic. And when it’s done right it becomes alive with energy, and you feel that energy the moment you walk in the room. Great bars can and will stand the test of time, they are not trendy, they move beyond what is artificial and become a fabric of the place and time that they exist in.

You’ve had Madrone for around 5 years now? How’s it been, owning your first bar and all?

It’s been an adventure, and one that I can’t wait to do again at Pop’s. Madrone is as much about me as it is the neighborhood and the location. The location dictates what the bar becomes. The customers define the bar. I just listen to them — and my staff. It’s kind of like throwing darts: sometimes you hit a bullseye and sometimes you miss the board. At Madrone I’ve done both, but I keep trying new things.

What do you like about Pop’s?

Besides the neon sign? The history: it was started in 1947 by World War II gunner Jack O’Connor returning home from the South Pacific. His dad helped him open the bar, hence the name Pop’s. (See the attached picture.) It became an instant SF institution that allowed him to foster both his innate man-of-the-hour persona, and his enduring affinity for fun. He was also a bartender at the Hungry I and 12 Adler (now Specs). He also opened up the New Hearth, known for “High Balls and High Times.” He was married five times and liked to gamble. (See attachment #2.) Over the years the Bar has had a few different owners (Bradley Fitzgerald, Francis Prieto, and currently Malia and Harmony). In the early ’80s Pop’s moved to the current location for whatever reason. Probably a rent hike. Nonetheless, the history of the bar has character and I love that aspect.

What do you like about 24th Street?

24th Street is still the heart of the Mission, it’s still Mom and Pop, it’s still authentic. I remember my first visit 20+ years ago, when I was a student at the art institute and I was turned on to Precita Eyes and Galeria de la Raza. I take my kids to St. Francis Fountain, and play in the mini park while we wait. I like La Victoria Bakery, and Roosevelt Tamale Parlor. I like all the murals, and I especially like that it still feels like the San Francisco I fell in love with.

Divisadero [where Madrone is located] and 24th are undergoing some similar changes, as many SF streets tend to do. As a business owner and longtime San Franciscan, what’s your take on watching these changes happen?

Change is inevitable. And these two streets are comparable. Over here, for the most part we have people who care about the neighborhood and how their business fit into the fabric of the community. I think that’s super important. You can’t be just a taker. Especially in areas like 24th and Divisadero. They are both small tight-knit communities. My take on the overall changes I see in the city is this: I came here 22 years ago, because I fell in love with San Francisco, I fell in love with the idea that no matter who you were or what you were into, this city would welcome you. I came here with a very little bit of $ in my pocket and found place to live, and a way to grow and experience the life I wanted. I may have grown up in Las Vegas, but I came home the moment I moved here. And now I’m raising my children in San Francisco. What concerns me now, and I hope the politicians can figure it out, but if I was 20 years old now, I don’t know how I would be able to move here and make a life. I think we need to maintain a place for the young dreamers; otherwise our great city will become less unique. We need different people.

Do you have any special plans for Pop’s?

Yes I do. It’s going to be a place where everyone is welcome and everyone feels at home. I’m so happy to have a bar with such a strong history in San Francisco. Any bar that has lasted 67 years has earned the right to continue and thrive. I can’t wait to push it forward with integrity.

[Photos by the San Francisco Public Library]

Bars with fireplaces

Just in time for winter, SFist has compiled a list of SF bars with fireplaces. The Mission’s own Homestead made the cut:

While the Homestead’s heat source is actually a cast iron stove, it’ll cure your winter chill just as effectively as anything else on the list. With free peanuts that you’re free to toss on the floor and buxom nude portraits adorning the walls, the place hasn’t changed much in more than 110 years of operation.

Read on for lots more fireplace.

Hausu V. House

Alex dropped us a line about his free cult movie night at The Knockout, Mutant Matinee. I haven’t seen House, but Hausu is a weirdo scary classic.

This weekend we’re doing a double feature of haunted house movies! Both called House! It’s free admission, free popcorn, some trivia, some tasty halloween candy and prizes, drink specials, and food available from my pal Kitchen Eclectic, who will be serving up vegetarian pumpkin chili with toppings and homemade blue corn chips.  The movies are both great – House (aka Hausu, Japan 1977) is a masterpiece of mind-warping psychedelic insanity, and House (USA 1986) is a weird mishmash of horror, slapstick humor, and really great 80′s special fx. and both movies will be shown on the big screen! This will be this Sunday evening from 5-9 PM, before Sweater Funk lights up the dance floor.



Facebook event page here.

Peek into the crazy fun Pride party that went down at El Rio (NSFW)

Everyone’s making a big deal about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs last night, but they probably would have completely lost their shit had they been at the El Rio Pride party last month. Luckily, Courtney Trouble has managed to capture all of the excitement from the party in one amazing (NSFW) video, so do yourself a favor and check it out!

Inside Boozeland

Emperor Norton’s Boozeland, the new Tenderloin bar from the boys behind Bender’s, is open for business! And it’s awesome! Lots of the architectural touches from the space’s previous incarnations are fully intact, it’s as spacious as ever, lots of light makes for great day drinking sessions, the bathrooms are waaaay nicer than ever, the back patio is open and lovely, and beers are real cheap at happy hour.

Plus it’s right around the corner from the AMC on Van Ness, so it’s an ideal spot to stop for drinks before (and after) a movie.

[Photos via Boozeland]

Fun police pops Pop’s, no more DJ’s allowed

It’s becoming more and more difficult to simply enjoy a fun DJ dance night at a dive bar these days, as the city has been been expanding their crackdown on spots that don’t happen to possess an official cabaret license.  The latest victim is everyone’s favorite crusty watering hole, Pop’s.  So R.I.P. Drop Out, although you can still catch Jackie Sugarlumps at the Makeout Room for her monthly school of soul, Web of Sound.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like this all started when some jerk NIMBY moved across the street from the Attic and started hating on all the fun that people were having dancing to the likes of 2MWMY and Indie Slash, forcing those acts to move on to Amnesia.  Said NIMBY did some research and found out he could stop the music by employing the cabaret license technicality, and it seems that the fun police picked up on that and used it against Cassanova, which now is unable to host DJ’s as well.

Hopefully this is the last dance night to go down, but I have the uneasy feeling that the city is just getting started.  As for Pop’s perhaps they’ll finally just have to finally go all-in on that sports bar concept!

[Photo by Erik Jutras]

Inside Urban Putt

On Tuesday evening Steve Fox opened up the doors to the space at 1096 South Van Ness, future home of his mini golf restaurant bar, Urban Putt, and let people wander inside and look around. The former mortuary was most recently renovated to be a bar and club, but retains a lot of the original flair and regality of a classy/cheesy 20th Century mortuary, including some creepy little brick chambers and a stairway to nowhere in the basement. I spoke with Steve and his designer Christopher Myers about their plans.

The plans for the holes are pretty ambitious and sound like they’re going to be a lot of fun to make. As someone who has also built an indoor park with building exteriors in this neighborhood, it’s right up my alley. Many of the holes are going to be locally themed, recreating monuments and places from San Francisco that go beyond the typical postcard locals, such as the spot where the 1906 Earthquake survivors meet every year. There will also be a private room to rent out, bars around the space and dining upstairs. We wrote about Urban Putt previously here.

Anyway, back to the holes, most of them will be on the main floor, but some will also lead the golfers into side rooms where they will step into a submarine environment. The fabrication will happen on site and Steve is looking to include local artists/designers to help create one or two of the holes. You can contact him if you’re interested.