Long-standing Castro neighborhood watering hole Last Call Bar is back with new owners and the same well-loved jukebox blasting ‘70s and ‘80s-era bangers from the likes of Whitney Houston, Hall & Oats, and Donna Summer. The bar has been pouring beers in the Castro for more than half a decade under various names, though the small space has been dark since closing due to the pandemic in March 2020. Now, as of August 23, it’s reopened — operating from noon to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
New proprietors Kris Foster and Tammy Soo (along with their adorable dog Nom Chompsky) have never owned a bar before but say they’ve always wanted to have their ”own little place.” That’s why, when they saw the opportunity to purchase Last Call Bar from its previous owner in January 2021, they knew they wanted to be a part of protecting its future. “If there’s still a bar in this spot in 50 years, we did something right,” Foster says. “This is a part of San Francisco history, the story just hasn't fully been told yet.”
The bar operated for some 30 years — from 1977 until 2008 — as a gay bar called Men’s Room, Hoodline reports. That’s when former Men’s Room bartender Kevin Harrington purchased the business and renamed it Last Call Bar in an effort to make it more clear that the bar wasn’t, in fact, just for men. Foster says the current name references the fact that the bar sits right on the border of the Castro and Mission Dolores, making it a last stop before you leave the historic LGBTQ-friendly neighborhood.
The couple has spent the intervening months working hard to give the bar a little refresh — without obliterating its divey essence. “It’s like, this is a proper neighborhood dive bar,” Foster explains. “It’s one of those things where if you paint it you could do damage to the poor thing.” They made sure to retain the elements that give the bar character including the “old-school, Jeston’s”-inspired fireplace and, of course, the jukebox. Foster says the disco jams seemed to be what patrons enjoyed previously, so they’re still on rotation — though there may be some Easter eggs in the mix, he teased. The other notable change should be a welcome one in the world of COVD-19 and modern convenience: For the first time, Last Call Bar will be accepting cards.
As for the menu, they’re keeping it simple. You’ll be able to order all the basic cocktails and you can bet there will be some sort of special on a beer and whiskey. But the couple, who have lived in San Francisco since 2008 and are originally from Canada, say they’re trying to keep it simple. “We’re going to make sure everyone can get the drinks that they want,” Foster says. “But it’s not going to be a fancy cocktail place.”
“We hope it just feels like a place people can come and get what’s familiar to them,” Foster says — whether that be a cold beer or a dose of disco.
Last Call Bar is located at 3988 18th Street and is open seven days a week from noon to 2 a.m. For more information visit the Last Call Bar website.