The Australian team behind Hotel San Francisco — a one-year-old Financial District bar named in reference to the Eagles song Hotel California — has expanded downstairs, opening a second space underground beneath the first. It’s called, appropriately enough, Downunder, and the goal of the new spot is to keep the energy of the upstairs bar going later into the evening with more drinks plus dance parties and events.
“We’ve had a great year,” says Hotel San Francisco co-owner Priscilla Dosiou, who relocated to the Bay Area from Sydney. Mani Mondays — free manicures with a drink purchase from 5 to 8 p.m. — have ben a particular hit.
“We were received very well, especially by the Financial District and the companies around here,” says Dosiou.
But, in the FiDi, evenings out on the town can start to lag after a few hours. Downunder could address that: “We’ve always been raring to go to open the downstairs area, to create that full night experience... somewhere the night can continue,” says Dosiou.
Dosiou and Sydney-based partners Thomas Glenwright and Paul Schulte designed Hotel San Francisco’s splashy upstairs space with L.A.-based branding firm The Imagists. Neon signs (with Eagles lyrics), lush murals and wallpaper, and velvet bar stools set the scene.
At Downunder, the group aimed for a similar design as upstairs, but with a darker color scheme more appropriate to its subterranean environs. The vibe starts in the stairwell, where a portrait of Bay Area native Tupac invites visitors downstairs. Dominant colors are black and gold, and as upstairs, there’s art by SF’s Grammy-nominated art director, painter, and illustrator, Serge Gay Jr. There’s also funky wallpaper form Zoe Pocock and lounge seating from the Australian firm B Seated.
Downunder is relatively intimate, with capacity for about 50 people. While waiting to expand, the Hotel San Francisco team has used the space for storage. DJs and new cocktails at downstairs bar will keep the crowd moving: Customers will find a range of barrel-aged, bottled cocktails in custom-made flasks — already popular upstairs — including new ones like the Ace (with Empress Gin, lavender, honey, and lemon).
For a bite to eat, guests needn’t leave Downunder: Hotel San Francisco’s food is available downstairs, too. The menu includes prawns off the barbie (with salsa verde, chili and lemon), salads like burrata and asparagus, and pizzas with fancy toppings, such as duck confit and house-made ricotta, mostarda, and arugula.
Beyond DJ’s and dancing, other events are on the way, like comedy shows, karaoke, and rave bingo (when someone gets bingo, everybody starts dancing).
“We’re just trying to break the norm,” says co-owner Paul Schulte. “It’s about being unpredictable.”
Starting tonight, you can check out Hotel San Francisco’s new bar anytime you like from 5 p.m. until close.