It's been ten days since a two-alarm fire gutted The Riptide, an Outer Sunset watering-holed loved by the locals who drank there, the musicians who played there, and the staff who worked there. We checked in with David Quinby, who co-owns the bar with Les James, who told us that everybody's pulling together and that they will rebuild.
The fire, which completely destroyed the interior of the building, was an electrical fire that started in a neighboring business. Amazingly, the old growth redwood studs in the walls and ceiling survived the flames, and Quinby is quick to thank the SFFD.
"If they'd showed up two minutes later, it would have been a vacant lot.
The brick floor and fireplace are also still there, but pretty much everything else, including all of the maritime antiques and treasures from Quinby's travels, were destroyed. Sadly, that also includes "Bou," the taxidermy Caribou head that watched over patrons as they drank beers and listened to music.
Though the owners and staff are devastated, Quinby says they're looking at this as a chance to make The Riptide even better, but without changing too much. "Because of the miracle that the studs in the walls and ceilings survived, we really feel like the soul of The Riptide is still there." They're going to recreate the shiplap knotty pine walls that had been there since 1941 with old growth redwood, slowly rebuild the antique collection, bring back the thick red velvet curtains that give the bar its "Twin Peaks" vibe, and yes, find a new antique taxidermy mascot to hang on the wall. "Maybe we'll get a yeti," Quinby joked. And though he's not making any promises, he hopes the honky tonk on the beach will be back in "four to six months." Not that there was ever any doubt about its future, he says.
"As Les and I watched the final flames burn out, we turned to each other and said, 'We have to rebuild.'"
The outpouring of love — Quinby says he's heard from 10,000 people from as far away as Dubai and Scotland — made him realize The Riptide is so much more than a bar. "It's really a community gathering place," he says chuckling about all of the "Riptide Babies" that resulted in people meeting there and falling in love; Babies that will now one day get to visit the bar where their parents met.
In the meantime, people who loved the bar and want to help the owners and staff have several options. Manager Jean Fontana started a GoFundMe page; there are also fundraisers planned, with raffles at Milk Bar, El Rio, the Make Out Room and more, where Quinby says people can "mourn the loss and celebrate the legacy continuing." Learn more about the fundraisers, including the one tonight at the Cat Club, on The Riptide's Facebook page.