With astronomical rents and increasingly wealthy residents, San Francisco’s staple dive bars have become a dying breed. The city is losing another one this month: The Tenderloin’s Whiskey Thieves (839 Geary Street) will close on January 31.
Paul Bavaro owns whiskey-focused bar along with Mission bars Thieves Tavern and Blind Cat. He tells Hoodline that Whiskey Thieves has been losing money for the past three years — folks in the neighborhood just weren’t frequenting the dark, somewhat grungy bar, equipped with a juke box, pool table, and affordable drinks. “A dive-y bar might not be what people want anymore,” he says.
He might try to reopen Whiskey Thieves in a different location — perhaps in the Mission, since his other two bars are doing better there. Still, they aren’t exactly doing well. He says business is overall down 25 percent compared to when the bars first opened.
Long-running bars have had a tough time lately surviving in San Francisco. The Elbo Room, the 30-year-old dive and music venue in the Mission, closed January 1, with popular Bernal Heights hangout Iron & Gold shutting down just days earlier. Not to mention the city’s oldest gay bar, The Gangway, which closed last year, and Polk Street’s Hemlock Tavern, which had to clear out for new housing.