There are no rules or requirements for opening a country music bar like Westwood, coming to the Marina’s former Stock in Trade space later this month. It doesn’t have to be located in Dallas or Nashville, and customers don’t need to wear cowboy hats or leather boots, although they’re more than welcome to.
But “to do a country music bar right, you pretty much need to have a mechanical bull,” says Westwood owner Kingston Wu. “That’s kind of the big one.”
To make sure he could accommodate one at Westwood, Wu moved heaven and earth: Specifically, relocating beams to create the necessary 16-foot bull ring inside the 6,000-square-foot space at 2036 Lombard Street.
Worth it? Wu — who works in finance by day and is a restaurant investor with a hand in bars like Trademark & Copyright, Horsefeather, and Last Rites — says absolutely. “At the nine spaces I’ve been a part of, I’ve learned that San Francisco is pretty sophisticated. You can open with a hole-in-the wall concept — that’s worked — but for a concept like this, to generate that level of excitement, you have to put in the level of effort.”
Wu bought Stock in Trade, a hard-drinking sports bar, through his restaurant investment fund Proof Positive Partners about a year ago, and has been working on it ever since. Craft cocktails, with plenty of whiskey and a full kitchen serving Southern food with California ingredients are in the works, too.
Many of Wu’s past investments have been more or less passive — backing another person’s horse, with some coaching or guidance. Not so with Westwood, the fifth and last business to come out of the fund that he runs with partner Lily Peng. “Nobody was coming to me with this idea,” says Wu, so he decided to take the bull by the horns and develop it himself.
Will a country music bar feel out of place in San Francisco? Wu, who grew up listening to country radio in Burlingame, thinks not — and there’s even another country bar in the neighborhood, Jaxson (though it doesn’t have a mechanical bull).
“I think that you can be born in Burlingame and still embody country music, or born in Los Angeles or New York and still have a fascination for The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” says Wu. “Country is more of a spirit than a place.”