While SFist commenters this morning appeared to mourn the remodel of San Francisco's iconic Mr. Bing's into a "clean, normal bar," another reader was less pleased with our coverage of the changes that we noted were likely "necessary to keep the place up to code," and swiftly wrote to take us to task.
Please tell me you are not this fucking stupid. Bings was a FAILING bar. It was falling apart and on its way to financial ruin. Do you actually know just what the hell was wrong with the establishment? Why it was closed for a month? Repairs from the previous owner's neglect. God forbid, Peter Cooper cleaned HIS BAR up. And this is wrong? Your article is not original. You are jumping on the hate bandwagon and like those clowns, you are 100% wrong. One dickhead called him a techie. Others have put blame on him for the gentrification of The City. Unbelievable. In the future, before you start spouting off about the city I was born, raised and still reside, maybe give me shout and learn a thing or two. Then you'll be showing some responsibility in your writing, hack.
-- Kevin Wade
A quick Google search suggested that our correspondent was a former Ireland's 32 bouncer who in 2008 diffused a dangerous situation at the bar when he convinced an allegedly gun-wielding patron to leave the establishment. In a subsequent email exchange, the correspondent confirmed that he no longer works at that venue, which is owned by Mr. Bing's new owner, Pete Cooper.
"I no longer work for Cooper and I do not speak for him. Even if I did work for him, would that matter?" Wade wrote. "I am just speaking facts to your false story. Tell me, do you even know the process of ownership change in regards to an establishment such as Bings? Even if Cooper wanted to have it remain as the decrepit shit hole that it was, not possible due to city codes and permitting. Again, I speak for nobody but myself. I call out bullshit when I see it."
Wade raises some good points — while my esteemed colleague Caleb Pershan is not a hack, and it's unclear what is false in his report, as the bar was indeed renovated, what could we have expected Cooper to do?
Can we ask people who purchase bars that are, as anyone who's been to Bing's knows, pretty divey, to risk their investments by retaining their illicit state? Is there a way to renovate a beloved icon to safety and still keep its character? One might argue that Ken Friedman and April Bloomfield did exactly that when they revamped Bing's neighbor Tosca Cafe...but I've also gotten emails damning me for suggesting that the new Tosca is just as grand as the old one, so who knows.
If we, as intelligent people, agree that the old Mr. Bing's was likely in violation of health, safety, and various other codes, where does the bullshit Wade fears truly lie? With the renovator, who scrubs the patina and character from his new acquisition, or with those of us (like Bing's eulogizer Tony Bourdain, who's certainly had a hand in a renovation or two) mourning that patina's legally-required passage?
Previously: Mr. Bing's Destroyed Into Clean, Normal Bar