Sale is now pending on the Market Street property that includes longtime dive bar Lucky 13 and a neighboring parking lot, and permits for razing the building have been requested but not yet granted. Fans are using the news as a perfectly good excuse for a drink at the bar, but a Lucky 13 representative gives the institution at least a year before any changes occur, a serious improvement over the mere days or weeks that some had feared.
“As far as The 13 goes, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon,” says Craig Gray, who has tended the bar there for more than 15 years. “There’s no closing date, and you’re looking at at least a year still.”
An air of imperminence has been mingling with other bar fumes at the Lucky 13 for years now: In 2015, owner Martin Kraenkel wrote that “The possibility of the replacement of the bar with condos has been hanging over our heads since 2002.”
In the past two years, that specter has only grown. Designs have been drawn up and refined for 27 units of housing. The city approved them in April, but the owners opted to sell the property, permits, and all, delaying the timeline. Now, a buyer has emerged, and regulars have already begun to lament.
But the Lucky 13 isn’t alone in dive bar limbo: The Elbo Room, a Valencia Street bar marked for dead, has been slated for condos that have been repeatedly delayed. Doc’s Clock, once also doomed, beat the perceived odds to successfully navigate a move down the street. More drastic measures were taken to save the historic SoMa gay bar the Stud, where an 18-member nightlife collective stepped in to preserve the 50-year-old establishment.
As Gray puts it: “There are all these supposedly imminently closing bars, but here they all still are.”
He isn’t saying the bar won’t close: It will. But managing patrons’ expectations amid an uncertain timeline is a difficult balancing act. Headlines declaring its death don’t hurt merchandise sales, but there’s also the danger of crying wolf.
For its part, the Lucky 13’s official tone is one of a joyous living wake. “The end is near,” declare the bar’s Facebook page. “So get your degenerate asses down to the 13. Let's smoke em' while we got em'!”
With even a year left on the clock, the bar’s end, in the grander scheme of things, is near indeed. The Lucky 13 has been in business for more than 25 years, and its building is far older, a historic clubhouse for a fraternal order called the Woodmen of the World. Previous to Lucky 13, the space housed the gay bar Alfie’s, where Harvey Milk celebrated his election to the Board of Supervisors.
- Sale of Lucky 13 likely last call for neighborhood dive [Curbed SF]
- Redfin [official]
- Lucky 13 [Facebook]
- Beloved Dive Bar Lucky 13 Could Be Razed To Build Condos [ESF]