Bar Bubble Goes Pop

Pop's New "Caretakers" Are Begging For Cash

When it was announced that Pop’s Bar had been sold to the owner of Madrone, we were hopeful the bar would maintain its cherished pisshole charm that made it the neighborhood institution it was. And for good reason: owner Michael Krouse gave good lip to the bar’s “authenticity” in interviews. He even went so far as to tell us that the bar would preserve its character:

The structural elements will remain in tact. There will be remodeling, and there will be changes to the look and feel. Much of that is still to be determined. However one of the main reasons for buying is POPS is that it has years of character already built in, and I feel thats important to maintain.

Seven months later, the bar has been gutted out and the owners are embarking on a quasi-Kickstarter. It seems the regrettable remodel of the Mission’s beloved Pop’s isn’t going to plan.

Krouse tells Uptown Almanac that renovations uncovered asbestos in the building, and that it forced construction costs to shoot up.

But the scope of the work we anticipated has increased, due to a few “surprises”. We had to remove all the asbestos, and completely redo all the plumbing and electrical work that was outdated and unsafe. The footprint of the old Pop’s has been retained exactly as it was before, and in the process of this all we have and continue to learn about the many different lives the bar has had. […]  The reason for the fundraising campaign was to help us get over the hump since the costs have risen substantially and to build a sense of ownership and family for anyone that wants to come in and hang out, have a beer, watch a game, or listen to music.

To raise the money, Pop’s new owners aren’t even using Kickerstart or Indiegogo. Instead, they are making their fundraising pitch on their own website with a prominent PayPal donate link. The accompanying fundraising video transcends simple secondhand mortification: it is straight-up painful to watch.

However, the campaign does come with some interesting rewards you can score for donating:

  • For $25, you can get high five (presumably in spirit only).
  • For $500, you get a Pop’s hoodie or t-shirt, your name on a donor plaque in the bar, a personalized mug kept at the Bar for your use, and a $150 bar spend.
  • For $2,500 (or more), they’ll name a bathroom after you.
  • For $5,000, they’ll hang your picture in the bar and “will toast you once a year during your very own Saints day.”

It’s hard to be bitter over Krouse and his partner buying the bar—Pop’s owners wanted to sell the place, and the building itself was clearly fucked. Having Krouse come in was about as good of an outcome as anyone could have wished for, particularly given the cocktail-shaker slant the neighborhood is adopting.

But the fundraiser campaign still gives us pause. Pop’s clientele has never been the types that have spare cash kicking around, just waiting to be tossed towards a for-profit business raising capital and drink prices. And then there’s the language: Pop’s owners refer to themselves as “caretakers” and talk about “[returning the bar] it to its former history.”

But Pop’s doesn’t need caretakers. What made the bar “iconic” was the fact there was absolutely nothing iconic about it. It was a piss-soaked hellhole of strong drink and flimsy flooring.  But it was our piss-soaked hellhole of strong drink and flimsy flooring.

It’s one of the least deserving spots in the city for a museum dedicated to itself. Its no Gold Dust Lounge—it’s just a place where people drank too much and crowdsurfed during DJ sets. It never came close to resembling a living museum.

We’ll hold our final judgment on the place until Pop’s re-opens their doors in late August/early September. But the fundraising video suggests it is turning into a Pop’s-themed bar, laced with a wall of photography reminiscent of Wise Sons Deli. And that would be a shame.

[Photo: Pop’s]

Comments (47)

I watched part of the video, they DO NOT NEED VIDEO EQUIPMENT.  Please do not do whatever it was you were planning to do with video equipment, whether it be some hideous light show, a giant pull down screen, something else tacky.  If you want bands or music, fine let them play in the back, deal with the acoustics and model the room appropriately.  But its just not necessary to turn this into something more. 

Unless you are going to go full bore and turn this into a much smaller version of werepad, then yes, please go ahead.  But let’s be honest, only the werepad / Vortex Room blokes had the vision to pull it off.

The added costs comment is also presumably in part to prepare us for the inevitable ‘hey remember when microbrews cost $3, well they’re now $7’ comment.

Why does all Mission bars have to be $3 beer-hawking, perenially-dingy and generally bleak and dark looking?

Why can’t we have nice bars like this one? Such immature dingbats who think 

they have to literally wear their agitprop on their sleeve, to affect change.

As long as this kind of thinking prevails, San Francisco will always be intellectually mild. 

Thank god the wastrels are on their way out. 

I assume that’s sarcasm, but if not there is no shortage of what you are requesting.

Because there are plenty of those bars already?

Where are they? I cant seem to find one brightly lit bar with non-Gulag colors on the walls.

The new ABV (that opened in the Tokyo Go Go space) has this for wall adornment :

 No sarcasm  online news aggregators have better art than that.

Lolo has drinks and should fit your requirements. 

Head to the Marina. Or Valencia Street. Some of us actually enjoy a cheap beer and a oddly currated jukebox. Let us have it. You don’t have to go there. And we won’t go to that abismal looking Midwest bar you posted a picture of.

The first thing I thought of when looking at those hands were the beginnings of goatse. Are those hands about to pull an asshole apart???

There’s a place that looks quite similar to your dream bar at the far end of the International Terminal at SFO.  They even serve pizzas!

You mean besides the fact that bars like that are soulless hellholes that are no fun to spend any time in?

Haha just because your outwardly straightlaced stepdad from Fort Collins, regularly subjected you to his advances and more, does not make anything remotely clean looking necessarily soulless. 

You are just cursed to a lower class spiral and the social maladies that come with it. That’s all.

We can all evidentally pity the unfortunate person who sits next to Make It a Clean Bar in any  location.

I’m probably a broken record on this, but isn’t the normal route to scare up investors? Even a bunch of them? I recall that securities laws aren’t an issue if you’re seeking under a million dollars for a local enterprise. Lots of bars have multiple owners. I remember hearing Hemlock was opened with over 10 people pitching in. Hard to imagine giving anyone $5,000 for a picture in the bar, but they might come up with more for a piece of the profits, or to loan for a reasonable rate. Also, those really are terrible “rewards.” Most you see on kickstarter have some sort of actual value - in the nature of preordering. 


This: “The reason for the fundraising campaign was … to build a sense of ownership and family for anyone that wants to come in and hang out, have a beer, watch a game, or listen to music.”

Only a “sense” of ownership, you won’t actually be an owner.  What you could get at Pop’s before for the price of a beer, now they want $500+ for?

It just occurred to me that this must be a joke, and SF in the TwentyTeens is so unreal and distorted that this seems possible.

$5k is a lot to pay to have yourself publicly jerked off on an annual basis. 

I’d do $5-10k for a non-voting piece of the bar, though.

Holy shit that video is cringe-worthy. 

I found the history of the bar to be interesting. I went to Pops a fair amount but was far from a regular. Didn’t know that much about it.

What continues to bother me about this and similar “campaigns” is that they should not be begging for money via Kickstarter at all. They should be taking out a business loan, secured by their assets (including their very valuable liquor license), just like businesses did in the many, many years before Kickstarter was a thing. They could even do what Cinnaholic did, which was to sell gift certificates at a discount to face value, usable after a certain date (in effect, asking patrons to give them a short-term loan). I’m happy to donate via Kickstarter to art and community projects, etc., but asking patrons to “donate” to a for-profit business seems over-the-top to me. 


This Video doesnt have any Doom Metal Playing or skate videos in it

That is the worst video I’ve ever seen in my life

So many non-profits would love to have you as an annual member for $25.

God , this article is similarly painful …. bi-polar rant it seems … In one sentance praise then the next rambling ……

Sort seems like Kevin is a bit challenged on how a business is run …. The new owners are not ‘caretakers’ they own the bar and what happens inside it (they bought it from Malia and Harmony)  …… and good for them in a city of slackers, entitled turds and internet carpet-baggers …. hope the beer and drinks are cheap but not cheap enough to have idiots piss on the floor ….. or wear Winnie the Pooh costumes come to think of it asshats who wear shitty pussy costumes are what make this city a shithole….

HeySFO its okay if you don’t like pussy.   Besos. 

Hell yes they need video equipment. They also need an asbestos-free space to be an awesome neighborhood bar made and operated by people who love this city. It is going to be a work of art and love. Here’s that link in case you want to donate:

Haha I didn’t actually look at that page prior to just now.  $25 gets you a high five, I mean are you fucking kidding me?  I already get hit up for change on my daily walk from Hampshire to Mission, and now I have to get hit up for a cool 25 bucks?  Jesus christ, they literally just want a handout.

Why do they need video equipment?

Jesus tits that video was awful. Seriously, this trend of crowd sourced fundraising to benefit for-profit businesses needs to fucking stop. People that can afford to drop $2500 to get a sign (that will get crushed with graffiti the first day it is up) on a goddamn bathroom should just drink at any of the DOZENS of bars that cater to them already. Maybe they could even donate to a worthy cause instead of two nerds that would rather spend their time making a kickstarter than acting like they know how to run a business and finding investors or loans. If this is their business platform how do you think they’ll run the bar once they have it going?

Terrible. Way to white-wash the history of the bar. They might as well just change the name to Applebee’s. I saw Tuff at Jay n bee during world cup and he said he had just made the decision to not go back. I wonder how much this influenced his decision?

Where do I start. First off, I’d like to start a kickstarter so that we can yank it away from these bad taste d-bags and return the bar back to normal. Second, Yo, this new logo is AWFUL. The designer should be taken out the back side door, shot and fired. Third, a fundraiser for your FOR PROFIT business is the lamest, poorest marketing and business decision in the history of decsions. Welcome to beginning of the end ASS CLOWNS.

Its amazing that you very angry “people” believe anyone cares what you think.  Truely Amazing….

If you’re going to comment, learn how to spell *truly* …

I don’t care if anybody cares what I think!

You obviously do care…. You posted you opinion. Its clear you want to be heard.  It’s true of all of us, even you!  dont worry… That doesn’t make you a bad person.  Just admit that you have issues with people not respecting your point of view.  Let it go, you will be a lot happier.  Release the hate!

Isn’t that the logo that Tuff found on an original Pop’s matchbook from the sixties? 

That is the original logo from a matchbook in the 40s I believe    Do some research  

Point taken on the old matchbook, I forgot about that.

I still think it looks like shit posted up there with the white background. Or perhaps it needs to be updated, refreshed, or oh yeah, wait, I COULD CARE LESS.

As long as we’re correcting people on the Internet, I think you meant “I COULDN’T CARE LESS” or “I COULD NOT CARE LESS.”  

@ 2:49 - so they’re trying to turn it into MissionMission: The Bar? 

All of you are jealous assholes.  Here’s a suggestion:  get a job, work hard, save your money and open your own piss-soaked bar where all you haters can hang out and hate each other.  Better yet, just stay home on your piss-soaked sofas and your jizz-stained whinie-the-pooh costumes and leave the rest of us alone.

“get a job, work hard, save your money and open your own piss-soaked bar” EXACTLY! Instead of asking people on the internet to pay for you to open your piss-soaked bar, Madrone guy.

*tom and mike have obviously never been to pops and possibly live in marin

I wouldn’t give you kooks NOTHIN! tough luck, entre-manures! You are pathetic - wolves in sheep’s Smeduims.

I find the rewards really terrible. That’s probably the worst thing about this. You don’t even get a beer after donating $25? They can’t spare a single high life? Especially given that the actual history of the bar is cheap drinks for broke working class people, very few of whom would/could pay $25 to a for profit business to get absolutely nothing in return.