As the Mission District dive bar Doc’s Clock prepares to change locations, its owner and landlord are locked in a custody battle over its recognizable neon sign, which proudly declares “Cocktail Time” at all hours. If she loses the battle, Doc’s owner vows to rebuild the sign that regulars count on above the establishment’s new location down the street.
The future of Doc’s Clock looked bleak last year when its lease wasn’t renewed. The bar applied for legacy business status, a program offering financial incentives to landlords for extending the leases on businesses deemed historic. Doc’s was first opened in 1951 as The Clock Tavern, and a decade later, a dentist who bought the bar added himself, as “Doc,” to its name, creating the light-up marquee that’s now the subject of dispute.
Doc’s was recently granted legacy status, but the bar’s landlord, Leticia Luna, still declined to renew its lease. Nevertheless, Carey Suckow, who has owned Doc’s since 2005, says the designation helped her find a new location for the bar, and it also entitles the bar to annual grants for employees.
After a big blowout on Saturday, June 3, Doc’s will leave its 2575 Mission Street location, moving a block over to 2417 Mission Street. It will bring as much of its former self as possible along with it, shuffleboard table included, but the marquee has become a sticking point.
“We just learned that the sign will not be coming with us,” Suckow recently wrote, although she’s since walked back that statement, adding that she now has “no idea” what’s to become of the sign.
Suckow says she could recreate the marquee at the new location — which could have patrons seeing double before they even get to the bar. Eater has reached out for the latest: Stay tuned.
UPDATED 5/30/17 6:30 p.m.: Just as we feared. “We are not able to take our sign and we plan to rebuild one,” Suckow tells Eater. “We have the city guidelines and will create a new sign. It won't be the same, but we are staying upbeat about this whole move. Change can be very positive.”
Cheers to that, Doc’s!