Pacific Cocktail Haven, the nearly five-year-old Union Square bar from longtime SF bartender Kevin Diedrich, was seriously damaged in an early morning fire Monday, February 22. According to Diedrich, no one was injured, but the bar — which reopened for outdoor service earlier this month — was significantly damaged and lost all its inventory in the blaze.
According to San Francisco Fire Department Spokesperson Lt. Jonathan Baxter, the one-alarm blaze at 570 Sutter Street — a commercial building that houses PCH — was reported at around 3 a.m. on February 22. Forty-four firefighters responded to the scene and managed to control the fire by 4 a.m. No one was injured in the fire, Baxter tells Eater SF, and the cause of the blaze is currently under investigation.
Prior to the pandemic- PCH was a booze-only bar, known for its award-winning tiki-style drinks and its annual participation in Miracle, the spirited Christmas cocktail pop-up. Shortly after COVID-19 shut California bars down, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control allowed places like PCH to partner with nearby restaurants and food providers so that bars could reopen with takeout meals and drinks — and eventually, open with sit-down dining.
For PCH, their food provider was chef Francis Ang’s Pinoy Heritage, the kamayan pop-up that, in pre-COVID times, drew long lines and packed houses. In its partnership with PCH, Ang worked out of the kitchen at neighboring Hotel Emblem, bringing food over for takeout orders — and, when PCH resumed outdoor dining earlier this month, to folks seated on the sidewalk and parklet outside. The good news, Diedrich tells Eater SF, is that PCH’s parklet and sidewalk dining areas weren’t damaged in the fire, which left behind “a lot of smoke damage,” and destroyed “all our liquor, all our prep, all our refrigeration.”
The SFFD “drilled a lot of holes to fire the fire,” Diedrich says, which caused further damage to the bar. “And our basement is under about three-and-a-half-feet of water.”
The timing isn’t great, Diedrich says, as “we just brought everyone back on” when outdoor dining reopened. Now he’s trying to figure out how to keep all those recently-returned staffers on when the bar they worked at can’t be used for a while.
“I’m still sifting through a lot of things,” Diedrich says, a reasonable reaction for a man who heard his bar was on fire when “my phone blew up at 3 a.m. with calls from regulars who live in the area.” He says that there’s got to be a way to “keep the momentum” the business had built from outdoor dining’s return.
“I’m talking to a lot of our neighbors, trying to figure out what we can do to keep PCH alive,” Diedrich says, as he begins the long, slow process of inventory and insurance. “It’s been such a hard year for everyone who works for us,” he says, “we can’t let them down now.”