Coronavirus Turning This Place Into a Bar Obit Page

Mission Dives Blind Cat & Thieves Tavern Close, and We’re Already Pouring One Out

Blind Cat, as seen in its former Dirty Thieves signage.

Blind Cat and Thieves Tavern, two of the Mission District’s finest dives for shooting pool and holding your nose in the bathroom, have become the latest victims of COVID-19.

Hoodline got the scoop. According to its report, the owner of the two establishments was unable to obtain rent relief for Blind Cat on 24th Street. As costs mounted, he was left with little choice but to close up:

Before laying off his entire staff, [owner Paul Bavaro] paid them all the money he had; his landlord at Thieves Tavern also forgave two months’ rent without his even asking, to help him stay afloat.

But paying rent for Blind Cat, on top of vendors and other expenses during the lockdown, has been impossible without an income. 

“I just don’t see how I can battle the next 12 months of rolling closures and capacity restrictions,” he said.

Bavaro is now experiencing an unceremonious end to his once thriving bar empire. His famed Tenderloin bar, Whiskey Thieves, closed last year after a 15-year run. And Dear Mom, the 16th Street bar that was the toast of the Tumblr-era community in 2012, shuttered in 2018.

Now our understandable health closures have finished off his last two bars. As Bavaro told Hoodline, “there’s no better goodbye than the Irish exit — by just sneaking out the back door.”

[Photo: Kevin Y. / Yelp]

Another One Bites The Dust

Mikkeller Bar Quietly Shutters Amid Pandemic-Driven Downturn

Mikkeller Bar, the Tenderloin beerhall that regularly found itself atop the city’s best bar lists, is no longer. According to a tipster, the famed Danish-style bar quietly broke the news to its staff earlier this week. Now its owner has put the business up on the market for just $390,000.

From the real estate listing:

The highly acclaimed Mikkeller Bar location is for sale.  This 40 Tap location created a beer lovers paradise, with the volume and profits to prove it. A unique Type 42 ABC license is in place, as a 21 and up establishment. A Type 47 license should be easy to obtain here. Mikkeller Bar created a gastropub style full menu from their fully equipped kitchen. The design of this two story ADA compliant space is top notch. All but the original raw brick walls and metal beams were upgraded and built out prior to opening in 2013. Featuring a stainless steel 40 tap system, amazing natural oak panel walling and banquets, custom lighting and more. This location offers late night dining and drinking options in this high traffic location. The location is loved by SF locals, tourists and tech workers alike. It also benefits from convention goers and the customers of the many neighboring hotels such as Park 55 Hilton. Additionally the famous Union Square is a short couple blocks away.

Despite turning a healthy six-figure profit with a reported $4 million in yearly revenue, months of mandatory closures for bars and restaurants proved too much for the business. Last month, Mikkeller found itself selling off its inventory of partially-filled kegs and canned beer. But it was not enough to stop the bleeding.

Now the bones of one of the most celebrated craft beer outputs are being sold off in a firesale.

[Photo: Tap Traveler/Flickr]

Soused Slacks

Doc's Clock Unveils "Drinking Pants" For When You Can Barely Drag Yourself Out of Bed to Get Drunk

Doc’s Clock, the Mission District’s premiere establishment for people who consider putting on pants “effort,” has released a new line of sweatpants for our quarantine-era in-house benders. Dubbed “Drinking Pants,” these fashionable athletic sweatpants are tailor-made for downward dogging your life straight into the gutter. And best of all? Should you find yourself too cocktail timed to function, you don’t even need to change before passing out.

A pair of these degenerate duds will set you back just $35. You can order online to have them shipped right to your door, or pick them up in-bar and pick up additional liquid supplies while there.


Bernal Rock Dons Face Mask For These Contagious Times

Just as our collective pandemic-induced boredom has spurred the city to rediscover its long-lost love of street art, we’re now seeing the Tumblr-era meme of yarn bombing begin flirting with a comeback. The Bernal art rock, which typically finds itself painted in the spirit of holidays or current events, now comes adorned with an enormous knitted mask. But someone should tell this rock that masks do very little in the outdoors—especially if you don’t have any lungs.

Five for The Five

Iconic Mission Dive The 500 Club Flips For $5 Million

The 500 Club, one of the Mission’s last remaining establishments for people who like drinking their drinks, not photographing them, has been sold.

According to several tipsters, the beloved bar’s aging owner has finally found a buyer after quietly trying to sell the venerable establishment since last summer. When SFist then broke the news of The Five hitting the market, it was reported that the owner was trying to fetch $1.25 million. But like much of San Francisco’s real estate, it ultimately sold for significantly more than its asking price. We’re being told its new owners paid a hefty $5,000,000 for both the bar and building that houses it.

Photo: Rich Bonney

According to a notice of business ownership change posted yesterday, the new owner is a recently-registered company called “Mission Rad.” None of the bartenders we spoke to knew the new owner’s name or contact information.

Multiple bartenders we talked to this week are optimistic about The Five’s future. The new owner has promised not to change anything—at least not yet. And he told one staffer that he purchased the bar because he’s “always wanted to own a dive bar.”

However, some change will be inevitable. We’re told the building is in need of some serious attention, including a pricey earthquake retrofit that could potentially close the bar for the duration of the construction. And we wouldn’t be surprised if drink prices creep up after the owner forked over $5 million.

But our worst fears of what would happen to The 500 Club seem to have not come true: the endless rattle of cocktail shakers and banality of The Bon Vivants won’t be invading 500 Guerrero Street anytime soon.

Active Shooter

Barricaded Gunman at Valencia and 16th Locks Down Mission District

SFPD has issued a shelter-in-place order for portions of the Mission District following reports of a barricaded gunman on Valencia Street. Currently, Valencia from 15th through 18th Streets, as well as parts of 16th, are closed with people told to stay inside.

According to two sources, the gunman is held up inside the apartments above Limon, across the street from Casanova on Valencia Street. In a tweet, customers at the cafe Muddy Waters are seeking cover:

Neighbors have told Uptown Almanac that police officers are breaking through neighboring apartments. The reason hasn’t be confirmed, but according to one neighbor, officers are gaining roof access in the surrounding area (as pictured at the top of the post).

According to one customer locked inside of Thanh Tam II, officers told patrons they were “in the line of fire” and had them flee the vicinity:

We will update as we learn more.

Update 5:04pm: Additional reports have come in from neighbors, which we have not been able to confirm with police officials. One tells Uptown Almanac, “A female resident at that SRO pulled a gun on the manager. Everyone knows who she is, but the cops are just being careful with the situation.”

Another officer told a neighbor that the suspect is in a stand-off with offices holding an automatic weapon.

SFPD spokespersons have been thus far unwilling to confirm details to the press.

Update 5:09pm: SFPD has resumed allowing pedestrians to travel along 16th Street.

Sad Hour

Speakeasy Shuts Down Brewery Due to Financial Woes

It’s last call in the Bayview: Speakeasy is calling it a night because it ran out of money. According to a statement released today by the brewery, the San Francisco mainstay will cease operations indefinitely:

Difficulty securing capital investment and outstanding debt obligations led to this difficult and painful decision. The company’s primary creditor will determine the future of the brewery and brand, and no decision or further information is available at this time.

According to Speakeasy founder and CEO, Forest Gray, “The brewery has worked with multiple investment banking groups and have had numerous meetings. One fact has become central to the process, and that is the company is financially insolvent and requires new capital to move forward. Whether that will happen is unclear, but I do hope the brewery and brand will persist.”

Rumors have been circling among brewers and bartenders for the past few weeks about the Bayview-based brewery’s future. One source told Uptown Almanac that layoffs occurred approximately two weeks ago because the company could not make payroll.

That didn’t stop Speakeasy from releasing a new brew just four days ago, tragically and appropriately named “Murky Business IPA.”

There’s still time for Speakeasy fans to grab a six-pack of their favorite beers. According to the brewery, “the remaining inventory of Speakeasy Ales & Lagers beer has been shipped to distributors and will be available in local and international markets while supplies last.”


Tacolicious Forks Over $900,000 Settlement for Screwing Over Workers

Tacolicious—the Mission restaurant that helps keep upper crust Tostitos fanboys out of Farolito—just coughed up a $900,000 settlement for not paying their workers proper wages. It turns out only charging $9.50 for a side of guacamole just isn’t enough to pay the bills.

According to Eater SF, the settlement worth 94,737 orders of guac stemmed from a 2015 lawsuit in which two line cooks alleged the restaurant burdened employees with “improper compensation, inaccurate wage statements, illegal deductions, and failure to pay out for overtime.”

“We love our people and take great care of our people,” Tacolicious’s owner, Joe Hargrave, told Eater in a Trumpian statement. “We chose to settle because if we chose to fight it, we’d go out of business.”

Thanks to the settlement keeping them in business, you can still grab a roasted butternut squash taco for $4.95.

[Photo: Adam O/Yelp]

Hold the Legal Bullshit

Rhea's Cafe Forced to Remove Bob's Burger-Honoring Mural

Four months after a mural honoring Bob’s Burgers’ Mission District roots was painted on the roll-up door of Rhea’s Cafe, the restaurant’s landlord ordered its cancellation. According to neighbors and SFist, the staff at Rhea’s “very reluctantly” removed the piece yesterday afternoon.

“Apparently [the landlords] are worried about copyright issues,” Sirron Norris, the artist behind the mural, told SFist. “The owner is not a fan.”

Norris, a San Francisco-based artist who served as show’s lead illustrator, painted the mural at the corner of 20th and Bryant because of the area’s influence on the Fox comedy. Via Hoodline:

“The show’s creator, Loren [Bouchard], lived on 20th,” Norris explains. “The house he used to live in, which is the model for the [Belchers’] restaurant, is also on 20th. [Character designer] Jay Howell worked at Atlas Cafe, and I lived at Bryant and 20th. That corner has a connection to the show.”

As one neighbor put it, the corner can now go back to its former “constant battle with graffiti.” No word if Norris plans on re-painting the mural elsewhere.

[SFist | Photos: ladymisskate/Instagram]

Who's My President?

San Franciscans Unaware of Everything Going on the World Decide to Protest Nothing

Not only is protest the new brunch, it’s also the new waste of time. At least, that’s the opinion of some San Franciscans. This Friday evening, a few local jackasses who are either completely oblivious to our national catastrophe or civically insatiable are holding a “fauxtest” in Dolores Park.

The organizers acknowledge this is a dada exhibition, meaning they are openly mocking the protests across the country. They encourage would-be attendees to show up with signs have slogans such as “read a damn coloring book,” which sure sounds like a dig at our bullet-point president.

Should you want to watch these folks paint the town red with rage, you can witness their flatulent indignity toward people giving a shit march down Valencia Street at 6:30pm Friday.