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Step Inside the New (But Not-Too-Improved) Downtown Drinking Destination Lark Bar

The longtime downtown sports bar moved to a new space just around the corner on Market Street

Dianne de Guzman is a deputy editor at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, upcoming openings, and pop-ups.

The Lark Bar was always meant to be just that — a project done on a lark, for fun and adventure, as co-owner Brian Sheehy tells it. The space was never meant to last more than a year, he says, given that plans for the 170-room hotel at the Hearst Building were already in motion at the time Future Bars — the group known for bars like Bourbon and Branch, Local Edition, and Pagan Idol among others — took over the former Dave’s Bar space in 2016.

But somehow, seven years later, the neighborhood bar is still kicking, despite a global pandemic. Now, the Future Bars Group is moving the party around the corner into a new space on Market Street as of Monday, April 3. Sister liquor store Cask is also coming along for the ride, settling into a neighboring spot at 685 Market Street inside the Monadnock Building.

Patricia Chang

Dave’s was already a beloved bar for the downtown area, and in taking over the space Sheehy and fellow co-owner Doug Dalton made certain to respect the place as a neighborhood spot. Maintaining that watering hole vibe in a newer space takes some work, but Sheehy says they did what they could to evoke the former Lark Bar. The colors at the new Lark are the same, he says, including the wood. Meanwhile, the back bar is built with the same aesthetic as the original bar on Third Street.

And, of course, there’s all of the sports memorabilia and art: Everything was transported over to the Market Street location, including the 1961 orange-and-black Studebaker Lark, golf clubs, Warriors and Giants memorabilia — including some newly donated items from the teams — plus the McCovey Cove canoe.

The new-old bar is also a tribute to the longtime regulars. Sheehy says bar regular David Root contributed a number of his personal photographs, snapshots of the Lark on Third Street and its patrons, as well as of the neighborhood itself. They’re on display in the new Lark’s restrooms, giving the Market Street location yet another sentimental tie to its predecessor. As another treat for regulars, Sheehy says the Lark team has been continuously scouting antique baseball bats for another project: nestled inside the new Lark are these relics of baseball past, all engraved with the names of Lark regulars. It’s all in keeping with the original vibe, just ported around the corner. “It’s just a nod that we’ve made to them to thank them for their support,” Sheehy says. “Hopefully they’ll come once and they’ll see that, yes, this new Lark is new, it’s fresh, it’s brighter, it’s airier, everything works. But it’s the same beers, it’s the same cocktails, it’s the same prices, and it’s the same staff.”

For Cask, the Future Bars Group’s bottle shop, the most defining part of the new location is its improved functionality, Sheehy says. The new location contains just about the same number of liquor bottles, bitters, and bartending tools as the previous space, but now there are taller ceilings, more light from the windows, plus improved shelf lighting to better display the offerings. But an improvement from the previous location is the increased visibility for customers walking by, already leading to a drastic increase in customers coming into the shop, he says.

Still, in addition to this upgrades to a more foot traffic-heavy part of the Market Street drag, Sheehy says he wants the bar to continue its role as a neighborhood sports bar. “This is a bar for everybody,” Sheehy says. “You can come in here and be the hotel manager from the Palace Hotel and feel comfortable. You could be the beer delivery guy that just finished his shift. Or you could come off the Muni bus that has a stop right in front of us, and you’ll still feel comfortable inside of the Lark.”

Patricia Chang

The Lark Bar and Cask (685 Market Street) are open as of Monday, April 3. The Lark Bar is open 4 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 1:30 a.m. on Sunday. Cask (685 Market Street, Suite 140B) is open noon to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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