Another Dive Bites the Dust

The Hot Spot, Mid-Market's Underappreciated Treasure, Is Kaput

The Hot Spot was always the kind of place that every dive-themed bar aspires to be: filled with folks from every walk of life, all stuffed between delightfully downtrodden walls, and with Hungry Man dinners on the menu.  It remains the only bar on the planet I’ve walked out of with more money than I walked in with, only because every round came with a free scratcher and occasionally those fuckers choose to pay out.  Undoubtably The Hot Spot should have been a local’s haunt in some Red State backwater yet, miraculously, it was spitting distance from San Francisco’s City Hall.

Despite its perfection, The Hot Spot closed in January for a few weeks worth for renovations.  But then the bar found itself completely gutted, the weeks became months, and then the staff dropped this bomb on Facebook:

To our Hotspot patrons, our reopening date is now cancelled due to legal action that we have with our slumlord. The bar is not functional and we will not know when or how long before we can reopen.

With that, yet another one of SF’s prized dives has gone under the knife, never to return.  But fortunately for us, the ever-funny Ivy McNally shares with us this piece remembering her preferred neighborhood haunt:

San Francisco remains chockablock full of dive bars, but nuh-uh, not anywhere near my neck of the woods — the desolate, windswept no man’s land between Civic Center and Hayes Valley. You know what I’m talking about: Mid-Market. The “Twitterverse.” My home stretch for nigh on five years now, all that time dangerously nearing the precipice of becoming an uncool place to live.

(Is it becoming uncool specifically because I live there? Possibly! I once wore a construction paper mustache to the premiere of Anchorman and NOW LOOK WHERE WE ARE.)

Well guess what dummies, it finally happened. Venerable despite being virtually unknown, The Hot Spot has disappeared from those lonely blocks in between the Sort of OK Walgreens and Pretty Scary Walgreens. It follows Marlena’s’ and the Buck Tavern’s departure, leaving me bereft of establishments within stumbling distance from my apartment where I can read and drink alone surrounded by men over age 45.

Where am I supposed to go now? The library??

What initially attracted me to this otherwise intimidating dive was a very poorly attended Thursday night karaoke party. Is there anything better on this earth than a poorly attended karaoke party? Not if you’re as arrogant and anti-social as my friends are! If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing your voice mingle with those of the Honda dealership car wash crew to create soothing background music for lonely old people to get drunk to, then frankly I just feel sorry for you.

It should also be said that in a city so reverential of karaoke jockeys, KJ Eve is criminally underrated. In addition to absolutely nailing Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” every single week, KJ Eve is also a paralegal and a medical illustrator, with a robust crochet bikini business on the side. I do miss her so.

Also missed and worthy of mention: Adorable bartenders Michelle and Amanda, who always remembered my name even though I was usually far too drunk to remember theirs. Over the years, I saw a lot of cute girls crack under the pressure of daily 86ing dentally-disadvantaged patrons who reminded them perhaps a bit too much of their folks back home — but never those two. Those gals are tough and they taught me things about Jello shots I never even dreamed I wanted know.

If you never had a chance to visit the Hot Spot, I think you should know — although I almost hesitate to tell you because it’s so depressing now knowing its fate — but Hot Spot was home to the only Drinko game I’ve ever seen off the Isle of Alameda. If you are unfamiliar with Drinko, it’s simply Plinko, but with shots in place of cash prizes. If you are unfamiliar with Plinko, you have way bigger problems than the Hot Spot having closed.

Being somewhat isolated, the Hot Spot’s clientele were mostly regulars and the whole place had a rec room vibe, if for some reason your parents had painted the rec room to match the hue of a prostitute’s favorite eyeshadow. It had MegaTouch. It had three TVs, two of which were typically airing UFC press conferences. It had a pool table upstairs that I actually only saw twice; one of those times I was just up there making out with a guy from OkCupid. Days later, I realized there was a small closed circuit television behind the bar playing the whole mess, but I guess it probably wasn’t that big of deal because what do Amanda and Michelle care? THEY’VE SEEN WORSE AND MUCH WORSE!

As an institution, the bar served as an excellent barometer of character. If a boyfriend didn’t like the Hot Spot, it probably meant he was too good for me. And if a boyfriend loved the Hot Spot, it probably meant he was going to fuck a stripper while we were dating. Why do I choose to love things I know will hurt me, such as deserted dive bars that are destined to shutter? Probably because it took me 18 minutes to write an obituary for my mother, but this one has taken two hours.

To conclude, while we can never know exactly why The Hot Spot closed its doors, we do know it will be missed by many. And what we will miss most of all is…

The Hot Spot Special: Any well shot, any bottled domestic beer, and a lotto scratcher for $5.

FIVE DOLLARS. That my friends was the last great deal this city will ever see, and I seriously doubt Alta CA has plans to replicate it despite me tweeting it at them repeatedly.

[Photo: Dennis Brumm]

WHERE'S THE HELLA BUFF DANCING WASHING MACHINE???

Mr. Bubbles Mural, Reborn

Mr. Bubbles’ famed GIANT LOADS mural had long been a 24th Street icon.  But after years of persistent vandalism, the owners covered up the mural will dull, tan paint in 2012 and left the corner of 24th and Florida looking drab.

Finally, after the two year dry spell, a new mural has gone up on their wall.  It’s no dancing washing machine (how could you replace such a thing?), but the new work from Jonathan Matas is rad in its own right.

DP FanFic

Dolores Park Gazette: A Chronicle of Changing Times

826 Valencia is currently running a Dolores Park history piece from the Your Store project in the form of historical covers from the fictional Dolores Park Gazette.  Your Store writes:

These days, especially on the weekends,  Dolores Park is a very happening spot in San Francisco.  So it was no surprise that when we asked people to tell us stories about the Mission District many people mentioned the park.  In the Dolores Park Gazette, now displayed in the window of 826 Valencia, we offer a short timeline of the park history.

The display will be up until June 1st, but you can see the whole series on their website.  A few of our favorites, after the jump:

Thank You, LA!

Shotwell's, Bender's and Lucky 13 All Need Remodeling, According to Bar Rescue

A few weeks back, noted Mission beer outpost Shotwell’s tweeted out that the folks behind Bar Rescue had been repeatedly calling the bar and breathing talking into their answering machine.  It seemed like a weird pick for a make-over show—Shotwell’s is a fine bar, regularly is packed with customers, and has the distinction of being one of the few in the Mission with usable bathroom.

However, since Shotwell’s tweet, we’ve since heard that the Bar Rescue crew has been on a tear, cluelessly hitting up multiple SF dives for an on-air renovation, including local stalwarts Doc’s Clock, Bender’s, Lucky 13, Emperor Norton’s Boozeland, Molotov’s, and Whiskey Thieves. [Update: And The Peaks, Uptown, 500 Club, and Mission Hill Saloon, too.] (We even heard Zeitgeist was on their list, but couldn’t get a confirmation.)

Tom from Shotwell’s fills us in on their experience:

I checked the bar’s old fashion answering machine the other week. Bar Rescue had left three messages, stating that Jon Taffer will be in town and he’s looking to make over a bar in San Francisco. I deleted the messages and started my usual pre-opening cleaning routine, scratching my head thinking they picked the wrong town. Then the bar phone rang, “Yes this is a producer from Bar Rescue on Spike. We noticed your Yelp reviews aren’t very good and was wondering if you’d like Jon Taffer to come in and redo your bar.” [Editor’s note: Shotwell’s current Yelp rating is 4.5 out of 5.]

I was immediately offended… thinking this bar doesn’t need a make over, or does it?  Just the thought that we were singled out for a Bar Rescue made me second guess myself.

But I quickly got my confidence back and politely rejected his offer. Then he asked, “can you recommend a bar in San Francisco that needs a rescue?” That made me laugh at the possibility of an amazing practical joke. God I wish I knew the guys over at Southern Pacific.  Wouldn’t that be funny? “Yeah Shotwell’s said you need a make over.” (Of course they don’t.)  I didn’t give the producer a name [of a bar], but I’m very curious who said yes to Spike.

Hopefully whoever said yes fares better than the Rocky Point Cantina, a bar that was forced closed after officials discovered all of Bar Rescue’s work was done without proper permits.

[Photo: Tobin Jones]

The NSA For Coffee

Philz Coffee is Scanning and Tracking Customer's Cell Phones

Philz has long been a neighborhood favorite thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and no bullshit staff.  But despite its neighborhoody feel, the burgeoning coffee chain founded on 24th and Folsom has been seeing itself as a start-up in recent years, raising buckets of venture capital (valuing the company between $40 and $70 million) and partnering with Facebook to test a “check-in for wifi” scheme.  Now, according to the SF Appeal, Philz has graduated to spying on customers and passersby:

Beginning in 2012 the coffee company partnered with retail analytic firm Euclid, installing devices in their stores that detect the “pings” Wi-Fi enabled devices send out while searching for networks to connect to. The “pings” include what’s called a device’s Media Access Control (MAC) address (which is kind of like a unique device serial number) that’s used by Euclid in aggregate to provide business intelligence, in order to, they say, to improve operations.

It’s not just a business’s customers that are tracked, however: Euclid’s technology also scans devices of those passing by.

Philz’ CEO told the Appeal that the tracking tech is “a useful way for us to help deliver a better customer experience” and they’re “particularly interested in is dwell time [so] we can restructure the furniture in various locations to accommodate commuters or customers who camp out.”  However, a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that there are “legal concerns” with location eavesdropping on US citizens.

UPDATE: Philz backed down and will disabled the tracking system, according to ABC 7.

[SF Appeal | Photo: Ed Schipul]

Support Local Arts!

Cease and Desist: A Benefit For the Beleaguered Dark Room Theater

Mission Street’s very own Dark Room Theater, long host to killer local comedy and incredibly fun theater productions, hit a bit of setback this month as Monty Python’s owners served the small stage a cease and desist and forced a month of shows to be canceled.  This put the space in a bit of a financial situation, so they’re throwing a big benefit tonight with one helluva line-up.  The Dark Room writes:

Unfortunately, The Dark Room’s planned May show, [REDACTED] has been cancelled, because the people who technically own the property it was loosely based on decided that our show was a threat to their image. Hey, it happens, but what doesn’t need to happen is an entire month going by without you coming to our silly little theater and seeing some LIVE PERFORMANCE! So in the grand tradition of artists helping other artists, we’re having a benefit night to help keep this theater open long enough to put on an 11th season of that silly summer festival of creepy, Not-Quite-Nighttime Zone original adaptations with original commercials and four individual weeks of exciting theater (coming to The Dark Room in June!)

A list of performers is still coming together, but so far on the bill we’ve got:

  • Improvisers The Pure Moxie Players
  • A short film, riffed by our very own Bad Movie Night!
  • Sketch from Hot Giggles, 2Good4U and Ham Pants!
  • Music from Jim Fourniadis and Princess Creampie!
  • Stand Ups include Laundry Basket and Spiegelman (!), Nicole Calasich, Jesse Fernandez, Misha Trubs, Natasha Muse, Eloisa Bravo and more!
  • And more acts to come!

As the brilliantly chaotic poster notes, the show kicks off at 8pm.  The suggested donation is $20, but do give what you can.

Bored Gastronauts

Foodies to Ruin Perfectly Good Mission Burritos With Mac 'n' Cheese

What the goddamn fuck is that?  Well, dearest readers, that is the “Soulrrito,” a would-be burrito jammed pack with a revolting medley of unrelated foodstuffs, including “salsa-infused macaroni and cheese, tri tip beef, collard greens, and yams.”  It will begin torturing Mission District digestive systems tomorrow.

According to The Bold Italic (who broke the news of this, because of course The Bold Italic broke the news of this):

[The] Soulrrito will be sold for one day only at the 24th Street location of Papalote Mexican Grill. The limited item is a collaboration between owner Miguel Escobedo (aka DJ Mr. E) and Pam the Funkstress, DJ for The Coup, afternoon mixer on KBLX, and owner of Piccadilly Catering and Restaurant in Foster City. […]

The Soulrrito will be available from 11 a.m. until they sell out and are priced at $11.25; Escobedo is also making a vegetarian version with Soyrizo for $9.10.

Our head is reeling with questions.  Why is this $11.25?  Will there be vomit buckets on site?  Will the collard greens be airlifted directly into the Mission from Louisiana much like our famed stock of day-old New York bagels?  Is this just some anti-capitalist prank from Boots Riley?

No matter.  Prank or not, the Sushiritto and the Soulrrito prove burrito hacking is clearly The Next Big Thing.  So be on the lookout for our forthcoming pop-up “Pizzawizritto”: a pizza-wrapped burrito covered in cheez-whiz, served on a caviar and bacon-rimmed plate, and delicately seasoned with the tears of the Local’s Corner guy.

The Heat is Too Damn High

Hackers Close City

Despite being a mild inconvenience for city workers and drivers with an irrational fear of Godzilla, someone with a sense of humor and the know-how to reprogram construction signage has been going around San Francisco doing just that.

Honestly, they’re doing everyone a favor.  The heat is too damn high—Godzilla might as well be torching the Marina in this weather.  City closed.

(And please do excluse the light post volume this week.  We’ll be back up to speed tomorrow.)

[Godzilla Photo: Zach Perkins]

Can It Be a Hamm's Brewery?

Iconic 18th and Mission Dump to Become a Brewery

This festering shithole of a structure has been made increasingly dilapidated with every preservation attempt (the last effort to convert the space into a grocery store was halted after construction crews were caught illegally demoing the quasi-historic facade).  But now it seems another attempt to revive the old 99 cent store is in the works, as the sleuths over at Eater report that “according to newly filed building permits, the property owners are aiming to make it a ‘full-service restaurant and brewery.’”

Who will be operating the brew pub remains unknown—and who knows if it’ll actually happen—but we’ll update you if we hear more.

Meows

An All-Day Cat Vid Festival, Tomorrow at the Roxie

Because if there’s one thing we don’t have enough of in our lives, it’s cat videos.  And the Roxie looks to fix that with a 12 hour cat vid festival designed to make you laugh, awwww, and want to become a dog owner afterwards:

The First Annual San Francisco Intergalactic Feline Film and Video Festival for Humans is proud to announce the first annual San Francisco Intergalactic Feline Film and Video Festival for Humans, a 2-week film festival in the span of 12 hours. Taking place May 10, 2014 at the Roxie Theatre—the birthplace of dozens of niche Bay Area film festivals—SFIFFAVFFH1 aims to celebrate the cinematic feline in all forms. From the microgenre’s racially-tinged beginnings (Birth of a Kitten Nation, The Jazz Purrer) to its contemporary cyberspace counterparts, SFIFFAVFFH1 promises to expand the scope of what a cat-themed film festival can—and should—be.

Their program (purrgram?) features a stunning array of kitten happenings—far more than we knew you could have with a cat film fest—including a opening party “featuring live DJs, drinks and some very special Japanese cat videos on the big screen,” an appearance by Lil’ Bub, the presentation of the “First Annual Colonel Meow In Memoriam Award for Exquisite Grooming and Style,” and, naturally, a closing night party.

The festival starts at noon tomorrow, and tickets are available now.