Six days ago, an SFist reader named Katy emailed me about the closing of Dave's, the much-loved downtown-area bar that will die on December 31.
"Can anything be done about Dave's?" she asked. "Or is it really a done deal?"
The reason she emailed me, as opposed to my esteemed colleague Caleb Pershan (who wrote about the closure), is because I had threatened this summer to riot if "SFist ever has to write a 'landlord troubles drives out Dave's' story."
Since my threat in May, people would occasionally mention to me that Dave's was in jeopardy, but my repeated efforts to contact thier management on the record were unsuccessful. Caleb did a better job than I, confirming on October 5 that the bar was, indeed, closing.
However, it wasn't until yesterday that the San Francisco Chronicle admitted what anyone familiar with the name of the building that houses Dave's might have suspected: The landlord in question, the one that is driving Dave's out, is the Chron's owner, the Hearst Corporation.
Here's the Chron's confession:
Dave’s general manager, Joanne Traynor, said the landlord — Hearst Corp., which also owns The Chronicle — declined to renew the lease after getting a better offer.
“Our lease was up and they did a thing where they said others had interest in the bar,” Traynor said. “So they had us submit a proposal about what our plans were for the future, but didn’t accept it.”
Instead, the lease went to Future Bars, the team behind popular cocktail destinations like Local Edition, Rickhouse and Bourbon & Branch. Traynor said Dave’s was allowed to remain an extra 18 months so the owners could look for a new location.
So far, they haven’t found one.
Look, let's be clear: The hard-working people of the San Francisco Chronicle (you should know that I worked there from 2006-2008, and count many staffers there as friends) don't have a godamned thing to do with the real estate dealings of the Hearst Corporation, so I certainly don't blame the Chron's Amanda Gold from burying the detail that the folks who sign her paychecks are killing off Dave's in the 14th paragraph of her "S.F. dive bars make way for tony watering holes" report. I honestly don't.
That said, it's also a little hard to swallow Chron hand-wringing like "San Franciscans have long worried that the future is bleak, that the 'real' city is in danger of disappearing forever. But these days, it’s hard not to look around and wonder if the nostalgic cynics and apocalyptic doomsayers might finally be right," when one of the forces responsible for the "real" city's disappearance is the name on your pay stub.
So, Katy, in answer to your question, I don't know what can be done about Dave's, and I don't know if it's an irreparably done deal. But I know who did it. And now you do, too.
Previously: Dave's, Beloved Downtown Dive, Loses Lease After 26 Years