The Gold Dust Lounge’s lengthy fight for survival has ended, it seems. The longstanding dive bar, which has operated under that name since 1965, shuttered “indefinitely” last October — but a spokesperson for the spot’s landlord now says that the business has “definitely” closed, and that the search for a new tenant is afoot.
Longtime San Franciscans might recall that the Gold Dust began as a Union Square institution, and for decades had occupied a space at 247 Powell Street. (Per SF Gate, the address had hosted various bars going back to 1933, but it was in 1965 that the Bovis family opened the Gold Dust.) In 2012, its landlords moved to evict the bar, with columnist Chris Caen writing at the time that it would make way for an escalator to transport shoppers to a branch of the Limited clothing chain.
Efforts to prevent that eviction, including an abortive attempt to gain historic preservation status, failed. That’s when owner Nick Bovis moved the bar — including “everything they could from the original space,” the Chron reported at the time — to a 3,100-square-foot spot at 165 Jefferson Street, in Fisherman’s Wharf.
It officially reopened in 2013 to great fanfare, with then-Mayor Ed Lee cutting its ribbon, and then-Supervisors David Chiu, London Breed, Scott Wiener, and Jane Kim all in attendance to fete the new spot. Mark Leno, then the city’s representative in state Senate, proclaimed that the revived bar “is going to be a huge success,” and Lee said was “going to be a part of our great history.”
That history came to a quiet end last fall, when a since-deleted Facebook post from the bar said that it would be “closed until further notice” as a result of “an electrical problem that led to a flood.” Hope remained that it would reopen, and an employee who spoke with Hoodline said that “it’s all up to the owner at this point, so our fingers are quite crossed...I just hope something will be done, because I know what that place meant to people.”
An ad posted to Craigslist in recent days has dashed those hopes, however. According to a real estate listing from Monday, 165 Jefferson Street, the bar’s full liquor license — and, confoundingly, all of the Gold Dust’s artifacts and decor — are available for any publican who’s up for the challenge. (When contacted via a spokesperson, Bovis confirmed that he’d closed the bar. He has not responded to further requests for comment.)
Speaking with Eater SF, realtor David Blatteis, who represents the property, says that the spot is “in beautiful shape,” and that “someone could just walk in there and open back up today.” He confirmed that the spot “is full of all the Gold Dust decor, and you’d get that too.”
When asked why he believed the Gold Dust shuttered, Blatteis was circumspect, but said, “It’s my understanding that the rent was not the issue.” Yes, the rent. How much is the rent? While Blatteis declined to give an exact figure, he said that rent is “negotiable, depending on the financial strength of the tenant...one thing I can say is that whoever gets it will be paying less than the Gold Dust was paying.”