North Beach dive bar Columbus Cafe will reinstitute its free drink chip program
Columbus Cafe, a bar at 562 Green Street, isn’t a showy spot, nor is it a place laden with notable San Francisco history. Old timers do not tell tales of Beat-era authors who penned great works at its tables, nor of seminal punk bands that made early-days appearances on its boards. It’s just an unassuming dive bar with a loyal clientele, the kind of spot that seems to close all-too-often these days. But that’s not the story this time, Broke-Ass Stuart reports, as three longtime staffers of Columbus Cafe have banded together to buy the venue and keep it open.
This is the second time in recent days that we’ve heard of an employee coalition that has ensured the future of a neighborhood favorite. On January 15, three employees of beloved Cole Valley restaurant Zazie took ownership of the spot, purchasing it from Jennifer Bennett (Zazie’s former GM, who bought the restaurant from founder Catherine Opoix in 2005).
While Zazie is known for its brunch, Columbus Cafe was known for its beer chip happy hour, during which drinkers between 4 and 7 p.m. were awarded a token good for an additional drink at no cost. It was a practice that was “discontinued a few years back,” Broke-Ass reports, leaving the chips that were still in circulation without value. Columbus Cafe’s new owners, Beka Woods-Kennedy (11 years at Columbus Cafe), Will DeVault (12 years), and Ben Morrison (5 years) say that they’ll be bringing the drink chip system back, and “plan on honoring the old chips that are still out in circulation.”
The bar began as a spot for longshoremen back in 1936, and its new owners say that they want to hang on to the venue’s working class roots. “I’d be heartbroken to see someone come in and make [Columbus Cafe] another cocktail bar,” Woods-Kennedy says. “We’re gonna keep the same vibe and feel and legacy of Columbus Cafe, and part of that is making sure we take care of broke people. It’s hard enough out here.”
And in other news...
- A truck carrying 16,000 pounds of avocados wiped out in the Oakland Hills Sunday night, closing Highway 13 for about six hours. [NBC Bay Area]
- Board game cafes like Berkeley’s Victory Point Cafe and SF’s Game Parlour “are the new night clubs,” culture writer Jessica Yadegaran argues. [Bay Area News Group]
- Here’s a map of the Bay Area bars and restaurants from Netflix rom-com Always Be My Maybe. (That avant garde restaurant where they met up with Keanu is actually a utility room at the Contemporary Jewish Museum!) [Entertainment Weekly]
- The Lucky Penny, a classic SF diner that closed in 2015, is one step closer to destruction after the city’s Planning Commission approved plans for a 101-unit apartment complex where it now stands. [SF Business Times]
- Chron food critic Soleil Ho took a break last week, but says that in her downtime she caught up on Bon Appetit’s viral test kitchen videos, where she was disturbed to discover that “staffers of color are sidelined or relegated to cameos on their white colleagues’ shows.” [SF Chronicle]
- Barebottle Brewing Company, a Bernal Heights taproom, will soon open a second location in Santa Clara Square. [Barebottle/Instagram]