The former home of downtown nightlife venue Ruby Skye and downstairs lounge Slide is now under construction to become a new duo of venues: August Hall, a concert space for live bands, electronic acts, comedy performances, and more, and Fifth Arrow, a downstairs bar with food, tabletop games, and three bowling alley lanes. They’ll open together this spring, and the timeline is non-negotiable, since August Hall has already begun booking shows in a partnership with Live Nation.
That global entertainment company operates other San Francisco venues The Fillmore and The Masonic, but August Hall’s size — capacity is for 750 to 1,000 people — fills a booking need for smaller live and electronic shows. August Hall could also fill a need for San Francisco, where performance venues are more often subtracted than added.
The goal, per partner Nate Valentine: “Taking a space that once was a music venue and bringing it back to that, making it the best sound quality and music venue with sight lines that we possibly can, and downstairs, having a great standalone experience [with Fifth Arrow].” The space at 420 Mason was originally an auditorium and meeting hall, and later used as a USO performance venue, a theater, and a movie theater.
Valentine is involved in restaurants and bars including Mamacita, The Tipsy Pig, Padrecito, Harper & Rye, Ambassador, and Double Dutch. His partners are Justin Roja of Redford Bar and Rambler at the Hotel Zeppelin, Scott Murphy, who brings experience from Deckstar and Eventbrite, and Chad Donnelly, who along with Murphy puts on the Snowglobe Music Festival in Tahoe.
Designers Britt Hull of the Tide Design Co. and Parisa O’Connell Interior conceived of the space, both upstairs and down. The venue’s new name, however, is a nod to the building’s first architect, August Headman, who built 420 Mason Street in 1890 for the California historical preservation society the Native Sons of the Golden West.
“It was built by an organization whose entire charter was to preserve history for California,” explains Valentine. “There’s stained glass with figures like Jack London, significant California milestones depicted in sculpture, and golden bears adorning the whole building. Our goal was to highlight that and bring it to the forefront as opposed to modernizing the building.” The fact that Valentine, Roja, Donnelly, and Murphy are themselves native sons of San Francisco isn’t lost on the group.
August Hall will have bars including a craft cocktail den called The Green Room for patrons to take a respite from the action of a show. But it will have a complement, Valentine and team hope, in the kitchen at Fifth Arrow downstairs. A chef hasn’t been finalized, but Valentine envisions a cocktail and a culinary program “that we can be really proud of.”
Named for a target used by bowlers, Fifth Arrow will provide a new spin on the Slide space, which might have been redundant with its neighbor Ruby Skye. “In the past, it was a nightclub underneath a nightclub,” says Valentine. “We wanted different things people could do.” Now that Valentine has children, he says, he’s more inclined to think of the activities that can activate a space for a broad group of people.
Stay tuned for more, like news on that chef, as August Hall and Fifth Arrow draw near.