Reports this fall that swanky private club Soho House was plotting to buy the San Francisco Armory appear to be true. The SF Business Times reports that an LLC with ties to the hotel operator has officially bought the historic landmark building from its owner Kink.com, a BDSM porn studio that has since moved most of its production elsewhere. The price was reportedly $65 million — Kink bought it for $14.5 million in 2006 and has spent millions on renovations since.
While the headline “kinky porn studio replaced by private club” has a very current San Francisco ring to it, the ramifications of the private club’s presence on the San Francisco dining scene could be less than tragic. Soho Club operates 14 restaurants at its clubs and in cities where it’s got them. When Chicago’s Soho House arrived in 2014, for example, it came with three restaurants in tow, open to members and nonmembers alike.
Soho House was founded by restaurateur Nick Jones in 1995, located in a vacant space above his London restaurant Café Boheme. Now it operates in 18 locations, and its US clubs in New York and West Hollywood charge annual memberships of $2,100 to join a single club — more to have access to them all. Locally, its closest equivalent is the Battery Club, an SF members-only society known for its tech-focused clientele. Perhaps Soho House San Francisco will be able to lure Battery members into the switch by accepting dues in the form of bitcoin.
When the Armory’s sale was first rumored in November, Armory Events, which has worked to convert the building’s massive drill court into an events space, vociferously denied the reports. One upcoming event there is a ticketed “brunch festival” in March, called BrunchCon. That event, armed with an open mimosa bar, was deemed a “drunken hellscape” in its original Brooklyn incarnation by NY food blog Grub Street. Soho House had better hope the Moorish-style fortress survives the attack from the brunching hordes — stay tuned.