Street performances, patio service, and creative use of masks are bringing a little drip of revenue toward the thirsty taverns that serve up SF music and live sports.
Live event venues and sports bars are analogous in that even if they were allowed to operate normally under still-Phase 2 shelter-in-place, they can’t really deliver their specialized form of entertainment that brought customers in. The next phase begins when restaurants and bars (those that serve food, that is) can seat customers (outdoors) again June 15, but there will not be significant sports for people to watch, and live music venues will face attendance limits where the band performing might take up a third or so of the allowed capacity. Yet there are very meager means under which some can currently operate, and a couple different local news outlets have profiled the COVID-19 creativity of a few venues that can currently only serve to-go alcohol.
Hoodline brings us the story of a retro country music duo called Nashville Honeymoon, but it's more of a story about how the bars who’ve booked them allowed them to perform the last two weekends. And that is outdoors. The band has jammed outdoors the past two weekends, right outside Amado’s on Valencia Street, and the way-out Taraval Street bar the Riptide. You can only buy carry-out alcohol at these venues, and per current ABC rules, you have to buy food with any order of booze. Outside the Riptide the duo played from the back of a truck, at Amado’s they played behind a metal barricade.
“I’m still experimenting with face coverings that I can sing through," said guitarist Lynne Maes.
Eater SF, meanwhile, has a roundup of sports bars and how they’re coping with the loss of business at what would have been a peak time of year. “March Madness, the NBA Playoffs, the start of the Giants’ season — those really drive our revenues for the year, and that’s never coming back,” Underdogs Too owner Doug Marschke told Eater SF.
Some have attempted patio and outdoor service, but that requires a Conditional Use permit that is really arduous and demanding to acquire. They do have hope for the expedited permit process for sidewalk and parking space seating that City Hall introduced last week.
But sports bars are also subject to the “food with your booze” requirement. Marina/Cow Hollow bar Final Final teamed up with the take-and-bake pizza company Papa Murphy’s to meet the minimum requirement, though that’s got to be awkward, as your pizza is uncooked. So you’re probably only going to eat and drink once you take the haul home.
The most prominent sports bar Eater SF spoke with was Kezar Pub at Stanyan and Waller Street, which has not even attempted to open. Even though that place has one of your better sports bar kitchens in town, they did not feel properly equipped to do carry-out and delivery, and owner Cyril Hackett has serious concerns that the “new normal” will be navigable.
“We’re hearing that there will be less capacity in bars and restaurants,” he told Eater SF. “So we’ll have 100 percent of the costs but only 30 percent of the revenue. That is gonna make it hard to balance the budget. I will weather this as the owner, but I get concerned about my staff, both mentally and financially.”
Image: The Riptide via Facebook