We at SFist and many others seriously lamented the potential imminent loss of The Gangway back in January, when a liquor license application showed that the place was in the process of being sold. Now, as SF Weekly is reporting, it looks like that deal fell through, and the very bro-sounding outfit called Breaking Chad LLC will most likely not be purchasing the bar and turning it into something called Daddy Bones after all. The Weekly's Pete Kane spoke to longtime owner Jung Lee, whose deceased wife actually ran the bar day to day until her death, and he said, "We had a contract. They had a partnership, but the one I would call the investor pulled out. They don't have the funds to purchase it."
There are, apparently, five other potential buyers lined up, including a gay couple who already own another bar and who wouldn't change a thing about the place, which is somewhat reassuring.
Given the bar's proximity to what is now a hopping, hetero nightlife scene on Polk Street catering to the post-college Marina crowd, it will most likely take gay owners committed to keeping the place gay and divey to prevent it from becoming the next pseudo-craft cocktail bar with a DJ stand in back.
The Gangway's place as one of the city's only remaining cheap gay dives that caters to a diverse, working class and elderly clientele should be preserved, not only because it's been a continually operating gay bar since at least 1961, if not earlier, but because the gay elders who live in the 'Loin don't have anywhere else to go besides Aunt Charlie's. And just get a load of Kane's charming portrait of the place as it is now:
The Gangway is old-school divey, too: You can't see in from the street. It opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 2 a.m., every day. You can watch Family Feud on closed-captioning while eating Saltines out of white plastic bowls, drinking very strong drinks priced for people on a very fixed income. There are a lot of handwritten notes, like "Chips $1" and "Edith 86'd for using the N-word." There's a fish tank, a phone number for sidewalk cleaning, a microwave, a table covered in parquet along one wall, and the requisite bowl of condoms. There are porthole-window mirrors and a wall of newspaper clippings featuring long-ago Empresses of the Imperial Court. People routinely call the bar: "Tracy! Did Charlemagne have her keys?"
I talked to 87-year-old patrons, people who were drunk off their asses at noon, people who could not remember my name after I repeated it five times, people who didn't want to talk to the media because 60 Minutes misquoted them in 1997, septuagenarian flirts who kept touching my friend's bushy beard even after he'd politely asked them not to, and heterosexual British millennials bar-hopping with 75 other hostel guests. The Gangway deserves a grad student compiling an oral history for his or her dissertation, but most of all, it deserves some more butts on its stools.