Pandemic closures threaten to fray the entire fabric of San Francisco dive bars, which in some cases are surviving month to month on the kindness of patrons and crowdfunding efforts.
There was no well-publicized GoFundMe for The Summer Place that SFist saw, and now, as Hoodline reports, the cash-only spot where people were smoking indoors long after California made that illegal is gone for good. At least its owner of 23 years, Suzy Gordon, is letting it go — and it seems unlikely that a new owner would maintain it in its current, 1970s-era state.
The bar is far more than 23 years old — Gordon bought it from a friend in the late 1990s, and prior to her there had been a Filipino owner for some period of time. We know that the bar name comes from a 1959 movie, and chances are strong that it was a bar before it even had that name. Another bar in the neighborhood that had a similar pedigree, The Owl Tree, underwent a wholesale remodel about a decade back that stripped it of most of its dive-y charms. But the Summer Place has lived on, mostly untouched, with cheap drinks, torn leatherette stools, and the faint, lingering odor of the decades of smoke that filled the place.
The Examiner profiled Gordon back in 2015, calling her the Queen Bee of Nob Hill, and indeed she likely made the place what it was for many years — a quiet, unpretentious, old-school neighborhood watering hole with a great jukebox.
A few places, like Aunt Charlie's in the Tenderloin and Specs' in North Beach, are hanging on with donation campaigns for now. Benders in the Mission just launched another campaign and has almost reached its $50,000 goal. But it's hard to know how long this go on for some of these owners and their landlords.
Will SF have any bars left when bars are allowed to reopen, let alone any of these dive bars that never made a huge amount of money to begin with?