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That Swanky Fintech-Backed Bar in Downtown San Francisco Is Already Closing

The Expensify Lounge is closing on Wednesday, November 1 after just six months. Here’s why the company CEO says it was a “wild success.”

Employees work at a table inside the Expensify Lounge in San Francisco. Expensify
Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

In April, Expensify — the tech company that creates expense tracking software — debuted a fancy new lounge at its San Francisco office, offering free cocktails and a daily Champagne sabering for employees and clients back in April, deeming the office addition “an experiment.” “It’s more like a social club mixed with a space where you can be super productive,” Expensify’s head of public relations James Dean told the San Francisco Chronicle when the bar opened.

Now, six months later, CEO David Barrett revealed in a blog post that not only will the Expensify Lounge close until further notice on Wednesday, November 1, but he also says there was a “secret experiment” afoot.

Basically, the question was: Can anything bring workers back to the office voluntarily?

Expensify’s conclusion: “Mostly no.”

According to the blog post, Expensify found workers would visit the lounge, work, and then take off; they would then encourage others to visit to work or for a happy hour cocktail, but those people would also leave and not return. Beyond the handful of employees who returned daily, most workers did not want to return to the physical office every day, Barrett writes. The office is dead, but “that doesn’t mean collaboration is dead, or that community is dead,” Barrett concludes.

And somehow, Expensify translated finding out that answer as the lounge being a “wild success.” Whether you buy into that or not, Barrett is conducting another experiment on his guinea pigs the public, this time in the form of Midtown Beer Garden, which reopened next to Expensify’s global headquarters in Portland, Oregon. “What is the secret question being tested by the MBG?” Barrett writes. “I can’t wait to share. But for now, I hope you will visit and experience it. There’s nothing else quite like it.”