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Controversial Castro Gay Bar and 12-Year-Old SoMa Seafood Spot Both Close for Good

Badlands won’t reopen, and Anchor & Hope is permanently closed

A lobster roll at now-shuttered Anchor & Hope
Anchor & Hope

Add two more to the list of popular San Francisco spots that won’t reopen after the coronavirus crisis: Badlands, a Castro District gay bar that’s served sweaty crowds for decades, and Anchor & Hope, a SoMa seafood spot from the folks behind once-buzzy spots like Salt House and Town Hall.

Anchor & Hope opened to great excitement in 2008, with then-Eater SF editor Paolo Lucchesi writing that the 80-seat East Coast-style seafood shack was so in demand that reservations were impossible to come by between 5:30 and 10 p.m.

The high-ceilinged Minna Street space closed when the pandemic began — temporarily, owners (and brothers) Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal said at the time. The SF Chronicle notes that the building it occupied is now available for rent. According to the real estate listing, the 3,400-square-foot former home of Anchor & Hope, which was built in 1911, is available for $21,250 per month. The building’s broker tells the Chron that “multiple parties are already interested—and it’s ‘100% restaurants.’”

Meanwhile, in the Castro, 18th Street nightclub Badlands has announced that it will not reopen when bars without food are allowed to do so, SFist was the first to report. The bar, which began as a brunch and dinner spot in 1975, was transformed into a dance club in 2000 by new owner Les Natali, a prolific Castro property-and-business owner who, for decades, has faced allegations of racial intolerance and discrimination, the Bay Area Reporter reports.

Many of those claims focused on Badlands, which faced an investigation from San Francisco’s Human Rights Coalition in 2005 over allegations of racist business practice against Black patrons. (SF Weekly has an excellent, comprehensive report on that here.) According to Natali, the allegations “were found without merit and were dropped,” telling the Bay Area Reporter that Badlands “welcome(s) people of all races and all colors and we probably have the largest, most diverse clientele of any bar in the Castro.”

As Badlands does not serve food, it’s been closed since mid-March, when the city’s bars were shut down. According to an announcement on Badlands’ Facebook page posted Thursday, “later this fall a new bar, under new ownership, will open in the Badlands location. The name of the new bar and other details will be announced later, closer to the opening date.”

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